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@reelChris

Help picking baits for new area

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I'm pretty new to this bass thing, and am going to bank fish new water in a couple of weeks.  By that time, air temperature will have been between the 40's and 50's most days, dropping to the 30's at night, so I imagine the water will still be pretty cold.  So, I'm guessing, without much info to back it up, that bass will still be deep and lethargic. 

 

What baits would you use in such a situation?  I'm thinking of drop shotting a short senko, bottom fishing medium sized tubes, and maybe throwing some weightless flukes and small jigs.  What else would be appropriate?  Hard jerkbaits?  Wacky rigged worms?  Lipless cranks?  Not sure what fish want in this water or during transition weather pre-spawn.  Here's a map of the area if that would help:

 

 

Fishing area.jpg

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   How is the water clarity ? What type of bass are you targeting ?

 

   I plan on going this week for largemouth ,   the first trip this year and I'll most likely be throwing texas rigs ,jigs , crankbaits and spinnerbaits  and fish them s-l-o-w . Steep banks with the sun beating on  them are what I like to target , paying  special attention to any cover on said  banks.  Also like to hit the rip-rap dam with cranks . Wont ignore deep points down to about 20 foot either but usually , early like this , I do best by fishing shallow areas warmed by the sun .Theres an excellent  chance of landing    a big female fat with roe  .

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my go to arsenal in that situation would be:

1: lipless crankbaits.

2: suspending jerkbaits

3: spinnerbait that I could slow roll.

4: ned rig.

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It depends. If the water is dirty then the largemouth could be shallow because they like to have some sun on their backs. Just good all around baits that I have confidence in are wacky rigs and jigs. Also mix in a swimbait if the water is clear.

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These guys are giving you good advice.

 

For me, this is the toughest time of year.  Is the water clear or muddy?  Is the sun shining or is it cloudy?  Wind or no wind?  Any combination of these things will likely change what you need to do to find fish.  I went out last Thursday for 3 hours after pulling the boat out of storage just to sort it out and make sure everything worked.  I couldn't help but make some casts.  The water temp was 49 and the water was literally like chocolate milk from all the rain.  This is the kiss of death for me.  But it was bright, warm sun so I was throwing loud, vibrating, slow-moving stuff all the way up into a foot of water next to all the rock and wood I could find.  I saw several bass feeding in less than 2ft of water.  The only bite I got came in 1.5 feet on a black/blue @Siebert Outdoors Fogy (bladed jig) with a black twin trailer and I was bouncing it off anything hard and moving it very slow.  

 

Next week when I go out if the water has cleared up and it's 51 degree water temp on a clear day I will totally change where I search and what I use.  I'll be out on the points which lead to spawning shallows in 10-20ft of water.  

 

One day you're in a foot of muddy water with a moving bait and the next day you are in 20ft of water dragging a craw on the bottom.  Spring is so weather/water dependent it can drive you crazy (er).  

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Chris, I note that this is your second post so welcome to the Forum.

 

After a few years of bass fishing I want you to return to this post and read it again and then apply your new found knowledge and answer your questions for yourself. :D

 

Now, to basics. Please note my suggestions below and consider them and the posts above and below this one:

1.  Water Temperature - Forget the air temperature. You are trying to track down an animal in its own environment. Get a swimming pool thermometer, tie a long string onto it, and throw it into the water. Then check the temperature. This is the first clue as to the bass' behavior in your pond. Don't "guess" anything. Get to the bottom line as the water temperature is the most important factor in the bass' behavior. Read all you can about how water temperature impacts the bass population and at what temperature the bass will start to hit the beds, start feeding, etc.

 

2.  Be sure to have your needle nose pliers with you at all times. And don't lose them!!!!

 

3.  Water Clarity - There are three basic water clarities: clear, stained, dirty. Coupling the water temperature with water clarity gives you the type of bait to consider, such as a bait that makes noise, is silent, or has a high level of vibration.

 

4.  Forage - What is the forage in the pond? Bluegills? Minnows? Crawfish? This gives you guidance on the colors to throw and at what water column: top, middle or bottom.

 

5.  Location - I see you are from the USA. That's great, but it does nothing to help us help you. What we tell you will be different if you live in Florida or Rhode Island or Texas or Montana. Please add you physical location to your avatar and let us know where you live and where you will be fishing.

 

6.  Primary Plastics Colors - The three basic colors for plastics are watermelon, green pumpkin and June bug. Then there are the variations that will drive you nuts. Stay with the basic plastic colors and finesse and trick worms.

 

7.  Primary Moving Bait Colors - Spinnerbaits can do well in all waters if they are white and chartreuse. Sexy Shad colors are basic for crankbaits and lipless crankbaits. Try to match the baits' colors with the baitfish and crawfish in the pond. This time of year a red on a Rat-L-Trap can be great as can spinnerbaits.

 

8.  Presentations -  Depending on the above, you now have the basics to decide what to throw. There are so many presentations that it is impossible to tell you the one the bass want for that day and hour. Topwaters, moving baits, plastics all have their place in your presentation arsnel. Experiment until you find the pattern.

 

9.  Pattern - Learn what a "pattern" is and when you find it what to do. A pattern can last for 5 minutes or all day. It is basically what you throw; where you throw it; how you retrieve it; water depth; under docks; on wood; along the grass lines or banks; and the conditions surrounding your presentation. Once you find a pattern of catching the bass you stick with it until it goes away.

 

10.  Weather Conditions - Cold fronts kill the fishing for one or two days after they pass. Wind, rain, currents (yes, even ponds and lakes have currents), tidal forces, clouds, sun, naked girls on the docks, heat, cold, night or day fishing, and on and on can have an impact on the bass' behavior. Always check out the weather conditions and dress appropriately in addition to thinking how the bass will react to the weather.

 

11.  Read, Read, Read - You are new to this bass fishing thing and it is imperative you subscribe to magazines and read bass fishing books plus watch DVDs and the bass fishing programs on TV and YouTube. Subscribe to this Forum on Facebook for Glenn's videos.

 

12.  Gear - May I suggest you start with a spinning rig as follows: 7' medium heavy rod; a 2000 or 2500 size spool spinning reel; 8 pound test fluorocarbon; 1/0 to 2/0 size hooks; a jig head and hook for your flipping and pitching and casing trick and Swamp Crawler worms. Learn how to tie a Palomar knot, too. You will not have to worry about backlashes, only line twist. Read about how to prevent line twist while spooling the line and fishing.

 

13.  Logs - go to the top of this page and look under "Tools" and then down load the Free Fishing Log. Make about 30 copies and ever time you go fishing fill it in at the end of the day. Make more copies as needed. You will see patterns develop at specific fishing spots based on the weather, water clarity, presentations, baits used, those girls on the docks, etc. This will become very helpful to you after a year of fishing.

 

So with this new knowledge and the input from the other guys, what baits should you throw and how?

It is for you to figure out. But keep it simple. Texas rigged trick worm on a jig head with a 2/0 or 3/0 hook; a Senko in green pumpkin or a June Bug (purple) color fished wacky style on a 1/0 hook; a white and chartreuse spinnerbait; a lipless crankbait of your color choice; a square bill 1.5 KVD Strike King crankbait with rattles.

 

Use a clip if possible to change out your moving baits and if possible, your plastics hooks.

 

Check out if the bass are in the sun or under the docks and trees seeking areas without the sun.

 

Move around and test many presentations and baits. There are no rules in bass fishing other than to think like a bass.

 

Good luck. Read, read, read. Watch those DVDs, YouTube videos, TV shows, and keep asking your questions. But only after you add your location to your avatar.

 

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Thank you for the advice so far!  The pool thermometer idea is a great one.  I was planning on using a cooking thermometer, but they can't really submerge so I wasn't going to get anything other than surface temp.  Now I can check the whole column and further than just where I can reach.  The paper log idea is a good one also.  I mapped a bunch of spots on my phone last year then an app update wiped them out. 

 

Some clarifications:

 

I've been fishing mostly salt water for about 40 years, so I'm familiar with the basics (knots, casting, line, etc).  Starting last summer though, I've been giving fresh water fishing a serious try.  I'm still in the beginning stages of knowing what baits to use when and where.

 

Also, I should have noted that the water above is in southern Michigan and supposedly holds large mouth.  I've never been there before and I don't live nearby so I can't really get any sense of the forage available or water temp, clarity, depth or structure until I actually get there.  The only data I have is that I don't think Michigan has shad, so I'm not sure their behavior dictates bass behavior there.  Crayfish, bluegill and goby seem to be prevalent according to the internet.

 

I guess what I'm really looking for is some kind of basic if...then diagram for various water temps and water clarities.  I've read enough about the spawn to hit beds once the water gets in the mid-50's, but I don't think it's going to be that warm before I get to the water. So, are there definitive depths and places bass hang out when it's 30-40 degrees vs. 40-50 degrees and how does that affect bait choice?  

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I would probably start out fishing a texas rig or carolina rigged soft bait like a senko, tube, fluke or chuck a lipless crank like a red eye shad until finding the fish. Looks like a nice spot, nice weedlines, probably a bit cold for topwater but if the sun comes out, mid day, a soft bait over those weeds weightless and slowly falling might work, or swimbait slowly crawled on top/subsurface.

 

If all else fails, just use smaller baits like a grub which catches fish all year long.

 

I am sure many of the soft bait you use for saltwater, lures etc. would also work....Gamefish typically act similar, they like cover which is more than just weeds etc. any current, drop offs, those docks. Some bass are shallow all year in my opinion, just depends on the definition of "Shallow". If you find ambush points, you will find fish, and if you find one, it was not an accident. You can assume they are always down to eat anything that mimics a baitfish, smaller fish, crawfish....If you like using a casting spoon for saltwater, try using it for bass....Spoons, hair jigs, bucktails all work well in colder water, even warm water....Finding them is most of the puzzle.

 

When I was up north some of the biggest bass we would catch were through the Ice. It may be tough to get to the deeper water from shore, but you will have access to catchable fish somewhere for sure. Just start fishing it and you will do better and better as you figure out what works for you.

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Update:

 

I'm in the area this week and checked out the water mapped above - 

 

Temp approx 45-50 degrees

Visibility 2-2.5 feet

Stained color

Bottom appeared to be soft with a lot of stumps and lay downs

 

From the shore, I couldn't find any points, deep water or vegetation.  There was a "fishing area" that's basically a dock that does out 10 yards, 3 other docks for a kayak rental place that looked closed and a couple of bridges over the water.  One of the bridges was over a deeper area that appeared to be still.

 

I couldn't see any baitfish, beds or bass from the shore, I spoke to another angler in a kayak who had caught a 14" smallmouth, and as we were talking, another fish jumped right behind him.  Also, ducks and geese appeared to be feeding in the middle of the river.  So, fish are there somewhere.  

 

I'm going to try and fish it tomorrow.  Weather is going to be cloudy/rainy with air temp between 35 and 55 during the day.  That's about the same as today, so there shouldn't be too much of a weather shock.  I'm going to start with spinner baits, lipless cranks and flukes and target the four docks I saw.  If those don't work, I'll switch up to drop shot, tube and jig and see if I can't scare up a bite.  

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