Glenn: We have a customer.
Keri: Oh, there you go. We have another customer. That's a nice fish.
Glenn: Yeah. This one's a little fatty. Come here, you. Oh. Don't do that. Oh. Barely had him. He's got a little belly to him. He's...
Keri: He's been eating.
Glenn: Yeah. He's got some weight to him. He's... Yeah. He's stout.
Glenn: Thank you, buddy. Hey, folks. Glenn May here at BassResource.com. And today, I want to talk to you about fishing early spring. Early spring. Now, we're in early spring right now. I'm actually wearing short sleeves. It's nice. Had a couple of nice, warm days. It's been in the 50s and raining, but we now have a real nice day today. It's in the 60s. It's very comfortable out. Spring is like that. You have all this fluctuating temperature. So, let's talk about that. How do we catch fish when you got these fronts coming through and it's cold today, warm the next day? What are these fish doing? Where are they at? How do I catch them?
So, early spring fishing. Main thing to consider is that they're not going to be up shallow spawning. Spawning happens around when the water temperatures are in the low 60s. There are some fish that spawn a little before then, some that spawn after. But the target area is the low 60s for the water temperature. So, since the water temperature is colder than that — we're in the upper 40s right now, it's going to be in the low 50s here in the next couple days — that's when the fish are going to be out a lot deeper. And as we get closer and closer to that water temperature, that sweet spot for spawning, they're going to be shallower. So, it's real important, as a general rule of thumb, relatively speaking, they're going to be shallow or deeper. Now, as a front comes through, that's going to change a little bit.
Say we've had nice several warm days like we have today, it's stable weather, the fish are going to be moving up a little bit shallower. Say right now they're holding in 20 feet of water. Well, they might move up to 15, maybe even 10 feet of water. And you might even get some that are cruising up real shallow right now. You might get a handful of them that are going to be up in the shallows, checking things out, what's going on, even though all the water temperature is really cold.
Not unusual. And you'll get that throughout the spring, especially early spring. As water temperature is below the mid-50s, you'll get them coming up shallow when you have these long periods of stable weather. But when you get a front that comes through, that can push them out deeper. It can maybe even shut them off, depending on the severity of the front. The good news is as spring progresses, the severity of the fronts get less and less. So, it becomes less of an impact.
But they'll move off a little bit deeper. So, maybe they've moved up to 10 or 15 feet of water. Now, that big front came through them, they'll back out to 20 sometimes, 25 feet of water. And they'll get closer to cover. They'll hang real close. They're not going to be chasing baits. They're not going to be actively roaming. They're going to be instead waiting in an ambush. And something happens to come by within reach, they'll grab it.
It's kind of like when you're really tired at the end of the workday and you sit down on the couch with a beer in hand. You really don't want to get up and do anything. But if there's something within reach, ready to eat, great. But do you want to get up and go all the way into the kitchen to grab something? Probably not. Kind of feel the same way. It's kind of what the bass are. "Ah, I'll let that crankbait go by me." But you come by with a slow-moving jig or the slow-moving tube or something like that, you can catch fish that way.
So, there's a couple things you need to keep in consideration in finding these fish. There's really three main things. It's water temperature, it's depth, and it's also these fronts. So, let's talk about a little bit how those work together.
The temperature is real important because, like I said, today, temp's going to be on the low 60s. Really nice out. So, you might be tempted to go up and then pound the shallows, but you've got to pay attention to that water temperature because it's still right around 50 degrees. Maybe a little bit, you know, cooler than that in some...if you're in the northern climates. It can be really cool. And those fish aren't moving up that much even with the water...even though the daytime temperatures are really nice. So, the air temperature really doesn't have much to do with the water temperature.
Again, a nice, long, steady, you know, a front that comes through for, like, five, six days of steady, warm rain will warm up a lake faster than a sunny day like today.
So, you might think the fish may not be shallow, they may not be deep, whatever, because of the current situations when you're sitting out there in the...you know, on your boat because of the air temperatures. What you need to do is look at your water temperature because that's going to tell you a lot about what's going on in the water. So, pay attention to your temperature gauge.
Keri: We have another customer.
Keri: This one's my customer. He's just a little guy. But, hey, they're fun to catch, right?
Keri: He had to eat that jig. Had to eat that jig. Look at that jig. Jig’s bigger than you are. Yes, it is. The jig is just as big as you, you little heathen. He was like, "You ate it. Remember that." Bye-bye. Yikes. He was not playing around. He was gone.
Glenn: The depth also is...like I mentioned, those fish can be deep early on the spring. And as the spring progresses, they'll gradually move shallow. But it's not a linear move. They're going to move up-down, up-down, up-down. What you'll want to do is pay attention to the trends. Slowly over time, they're going to move shallower and shallower.
And so, you want to look at those...what's going to be the route they're going to take to get up to the spawning flats? I call that the bus route. They can be contour lines, could be weed lines. That's generally what they follow, maybe a creek channel. And then I'll look for bus stops. What kind of structure along the way are they going to stop along the way to hang out on until temperatures improve and they start to move up more. So, those can be points, secondary points, main lake points, humps, drop-offs, brush piles, rock piles, those type of things. Those are the things I look for, the bus stops.
Those are the things the fish are going to be using as the environment fluctuates, move in shallower or deeper as time progresses, according to those fronts, which I just mentioned to you. Long and stable, they're going to be up shallower. A little more active, you got a big front that comes through immediately thereafter, they're going to be a little bit deeper and inactive. So, if you've mapped out those trails, that's where these fish are going to be.
Here we go.
Keri: Ready to go?
Glenn: He just came shooting out. I didn't know he was going to react on that one. I saw him come flying out of that cover and hit it.
Keri: He's like, "Mine. Banzai."
Glenn: He's like, "Go!" Wow.
Keri: He was hungry.
Glenn: He took it. There we go.
Keri: He was hungry today.
Glenn: Yeah. Good, healthy fish. That works. All right, buddy. You can go back in there.
Keri: Go back in and go play.
Glenn: I didn't even have time to react. Plopped my jig and I just saw this torpedo come flying out.
Glenn: Yes, exactly. "That's a donut! Ahhh!"
Keri: "Big Mac! Big Mac! Big Mac!"
Glenn: Now, how do you go after him? There's a couple of main baits that I do. Really, what I'm doing is, the deeper water, I'm going after it with a heavier jig, like a half-ounce to three-quarter-ounce jig. Football head jig is what I really like to use. I like to crawl it really slow on the bottom, and just barely move it. Football head jig wobbles back and forth and looks like a little crawdad, just crawling on the bottom. So, jig works really well in those deeper waters.
As it gets shallower and the fish become, you know, a little more susceptible, a little more active to faster-moving baits, that's when I go to a three-eighth-ounce jig and I want it to fall right alongside those weed lines, right along those creek channels, those contour lines. Those rock piles fall right along there, around the side of those. And a lot of times, the fish will track it down and hit it before it even hits the bottom. So, a jig is very effective this time of year.
Another bait that works really well is crankbaits. I know. A lot of guys don't fish crankbaits till summer. But I catch fish in crankbaits even during the wintertime. And I live up north. I catch fish in crankbaits even though the water temperature is in the mid-40s. So, spring time, you're looking temperatures in the, you know, 50s. It's a bananza.
Deep-diving crankbaits are key at first when they're deep. You want to reach them. Ideally, you want to hit it, bounce it off something. Bounce it off rocks, you know...rip rap is really good during the spring because they get warm from the sun, and the algae grows there, and that brings in the bait fish. And so, that's where the fit bass are. So, fishing crankbaits along rip rap and bouncing it off the rip rap is a real effective way to catch fish in the early spring. Even if the water temperatures are in the low 50s, it can be very, very effective.
As time progresses and it's now in the mid-50s and warmer, bringing a lipless crankbait over the top of weed beds, emergent and submerged weeds, bringing that along those flats, bring it along next to docks when these fish are up shallow during those quick warming trends. Anytime the fish are shallow is where I break out a lipless crankbait and rip it across to all this type of cover. You can catch a lot of fish that way.
Crankbaits, don't overlook them, man. I've... I used to use a Heddon Sonar back before the, you know, other types of crankbaits became...lipless crankbaits became popular. I used to catch a lot of perch on them in the early spring because that's when the perch are spawning. And you'd be surprised how many perch you'll catch on a lipless crankbait when the temps are in the low 50s. And that's fine...if you're doing it, that's great. Because then you know fish are active, they're spawning, they're doing their thing, and the lipless crankbaits are a really good time to throw it. So, don't be afraid to throw it even when the temperatures are in the low 50s.
And finally, another bait that I really like to use is the tube. Tube works really well because of its versatility. You can fish in different depths. But also, it works great when the fish aren't as active, when those fronts have come through, or you've...it's just pouring down rain, it's cold. Here is, you know, 47 degrees out. Those fish are sitting in 20 feet of water, 30 feet of water. That's when I break out that tube and I drag it with a split shot rig, and just drag it on the bottom nice and slow. Because it collapses when the fish bites, it feels natural. They hang on to it a little bit longer. Sometimes, I'll inject some scent in there. So, when the fish bites it, they get a little bit of flavor and they hang onto it a little bit longer. Gives me more time to set the hook.
As spring progresses and the fish get a little bit shallower, then I'll rig it on an open tube jig, one that's got a 90-degree eye that's a little offset from the front of the jig. And I do that because when you cast it and you...on slack line, let it fall on slack line, it just spirals like that.
That's originally how everybody used to fish a tube, and they've gotten away from it. But it's still the most effective way, in my opinion, to fish a tube. That spiral action, there's no other lure that you can get that does that. And so, it's very unique, plus it looks like a dying bait fish which...it triggers that predatory nature on the bass, and they'll inhale that thing. So, it's great for fishing docks. When those fish start to move up shallow, I'll skip it under docks or throw it alongside docks and get that spiral action. You can catch a lot of bass that way. So, a tube is a great way to catch fish during this early spring period.
There we go.
Keri: Got me a tube fish.
Glenn: Yeah, he was in there somewhere.
Keri: Come here, little guy. Thank you so much for playing. He didn't want the...he didn't want that little... That was a decent little fish. Come here, you. Stop it. Got it right in the roof of the mouth.
Keri: Right where you're supposed to.
Glenn: Nicely done.
Keri: I knew you were in there. There you go. Look at that. He's got a little owie on him like a grebe or one of them birds almost got him.
Glenn: Yeah. Cormorant.
Keri: Cormorant. Bye-bye. Thank you.
Keri: Tube fishing. First cast.
Glenn: So, that's my approach. Those are the different baits that I use this time of year. I hope those tips help. For more tips and tricks like this, visit BassResource.com.