Spring Jig Fishing: What You Need To Know

Spring Bass Fishing
Catch more and bigger bass with jigs when you follow these sensible tips. We take you from early spring through the spawn using pragmatic strategies to be more successful with jigs.

The Baits

BOOYAH Boo Jig https://bit.ly/2Of9ZV5 

RageTail Space Monkey https://bit.ly/3txmfAb

RageTail Rage Craw: https://bit.ly/3rsdtSs

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Glenn: Here we go.

Keri: Whoa, hello. Doorbell. Good fish.

Glenn: Come here, you. Come here, come here, come here, baby. Come here, baby, come here, baby, come here, baby.

Keri: That's a nice fish.

Glenn: Come here. There we go.

Keri: Big fatty.

Glenn: Got some grass on his face. Beautiful fish. Gonna let you go over on this side. There we go.

Hey folks, Glenn May here with BassResource.com, and today, I wanna talk to you about fishing jigs in the springtime and how to be successful with jigs. Now, jigs, they are so universal, they are extremely flexible, and they're versatile. You can use them in a variety of conditions, in a variety of depths, under, basically, any kind of lake or river system anywhere in the United States. And they work year-round.

So, they're one of the best lures to use during the spring, especially during the spring, because during the wintertime, crawdads typically hibernate or they burry into the mud and they're not very active. When the weather warms up and the water begins to warm up, that's when they start to come out and get active. And these are just little protein snacks and it's a main staple of the bass's diet. So, in the springtime, they're finally available and the bass just start to gorge on them. So, it's a great time to fish a jig, because a jig resembles a crawdad.

So, I wanna talk to you a little bit about how I fish a jig throughout the spring, starting in the early spring. What I mean by that is when the water temperatures have just peaked into the mid to upper 40s. So, real early...late winter, early spring, the bass are beginning to just begin the migration to the shallow areas where they're gonna spawn. So, in this time of year, I'm looking at still main lake or deeper water. Places I like to look at main lake points, some of them secondary points, ledges, drop-offs, humps, water that's around the 25, 20-foot zone on average. Now, my neck of the woods where the fish sit and they set up camp in the wintertime is around 45 to 55 feet deep. So, it's relative, get an idea of what I'm looking at, it's in the 20-foot zone area during this time of year. Maybe a little bit shallower in your lake.

What I'll do is I'd like to find points that have steep drops, or humps, or ridges that have steep drops on them. And I find those by looking at a lake map at home, break out a paper map, and I'm looking for those contour lines when they're really close together. That's what indicates a real sharp drop, those are the areas I want. I mark those and I find out what the GPS coordinates are on those and I put those into my GPS unit on my boat.

Then what I'll do is, when I'm on the lake, I go to those spots and I graph over the top of them, and I'm looking for any kind of cover that might hold fish. In this instance, it's usually, you know, rocks, like, chunk rock or boulders, looking for maybe some stumps down deep, some kind of woody structure, maybe some logs that are laying on the bottom or perhaps some deep weeds, something that the fish can relate to on that structure. If I don't find any of that cover then I usually move on till I find a point or a hump or something that has that on it. That's a good starting point.

Then what I do is fish the jig starting out deep and work shallow. So, I'll throw it out there, let it fall all the way to the bottom. Typically, what I'm doing is I'm using a heavier jig this time of year like a 3/4-ounce jig, not because of...you know, I'm not gonna be...I don't want fast action on it, not because I want a fast drop, but I'm gonna get it on the bottom, I want it to stay on the bottom. I wanna work these jigs just crawling it on the bottom, maybe a little bit down the incline, give it a little it of a hop here and there, small movements, mostly on the bottom. So, I'll use a heavier jig to get it down there and let it stay down there. A football-head jig is typically what I use, because it's not...usually too weedy down that deep.

Also, in the early part of the season, I'm using larger profile jigs. Yeah, it's a 3/4-ounce jig, but I want larger...maybe a 60-strand jig skirt, something that's got some bulk to it. The reason behind that is, a lot of the baitfish in the available forage is from last year's spawn, last year, last summer's growth and they've been growing this entire season. There hasn't been any recent spawns in the early part of the spring. So, all the forage that's available to the bass right now is at the largest they're gonna be all year long. So, I wanna match that size, so I size up and I'm using for something big, plus the bass are looking for a protein-rich meal. Instead of using a Rage Craw trailer on it, I'll size up to something a little bit bigger like a Space Monkey, something to give it a larger profile. That's what I want, and I want it moving slowly on the bottom so it looks like an easy target for those bass to snack on as they're feeding up, getting ready for that spawn.

But I'll throw it down there, let it sit, and crisscross that point in different angles and cover different water depths. And I'll gradually work myself shallower until I finally connect with the fish. When I do, I make note of where that is. Say, for example, the fish bit at 20 feet, then I know, "Okay, that's probably about the depth that the fish are holding at." So, I'll narrow my focus now plus or minus 5 feet, 15 to 25 feet in this instance. And I'll work that area and probably pick up a few more fish. Then I look at that paper graph that I brought with me now that I marked at home, and I look for those areas. Look for those points that have that 15 to 25-foot band on them, points, humps, ridges, whatever kind of structure I can find, and go find those. And again, cross over with the graph, I look for that cover in that zone, if it's there, then I fish it.

That can be productive, I can hit point, boom, boom, boom, boom, boom. Throughout the whole lake, I can hit all these areas that I've marked and I can be really productive that day rather than spending my time just going along the shoreline hoping I get bit. So, it's a lot quicker and easier way, especially, when it's colder out, you wanna catch fish.

Keri: There we go.

Glenn: Nice. All right. Get them, Keri, get them.

Keri: There's one particular spot out there and you have to be spot on it to do it. One spot.

Glenn: That's how you use deeper jigs for deeper fishing. That's a good healthy fish.

Keri: That's a healthy fish. Oh, wait, I had you that time, you weren't going nowhere. Look at that.

Glenn: Nicely done.

Keri: Jig fishing. Woo-hoo.

Glenn: So, that's how I approach it with early spring. Now, as spring progresses and the water temperature gets in the low to mid-50s, then I start moving out shallower. Now, I'm moving towards the 5 to 15-foot range, and I'm moving back closer towards those spawning areas where the fish are gonna end up later on the spring. They're gonna start migrating up there and I find those areas by looking at places where the bass are...basically what I call bus stops, structure, places where the bass are gonna stop on their way as they progress shallower to the spawning flats.

So here, I'm looking for creek channels and river channels, especially, where it swings up close to the bank as it works its way back into the back of coves and bays. I'm looking for secondary points, drop-offs, I'm looking for weeds that are in deeper water, looking for those outside weed lines. That's the kind of stuff you wanna hit and, basically, hit all of it as you're moving up back into the coves. They usually don't go super shallow, because the water temperature, again, isn't really above 55. I don't catch too many fish that are less than 10 feet deep during that time. Every once in a while, well, you know, there's exceptions, but as a general rule, they're in that, you know, 10 to 15, 10 to 20-foot range, somewhere in there.

And I'm looking for anything...any kind of cover that they can relate to. Sometimes, here you're looking at submerged bushes and submerged trees. And the jig I’ll work a little bit faster. I'll cast it out there. Now, I'm using, like, a 1/2-ounce to a 3/8-ounce jig, want a little bit slower fall. I'll put on a Rage Craw trailer on it that's got some more action to it that slows down the fall, because it has those ridges on it on the craws, so it falls a bit slower, has more action. Let it drop next to the cover, and let it sit for a couple of seconds, I lift it up about a foot and let it drop back down again. And work it a couple times then I reel back in and I throw again. Typically, if you've had stable weather or a general warming pattern, you're gonna get bit on that initial fall or that secondary fall when you lifted and dropped it again.

Glenn: Ahh, a little bit better. That's right. Here we go. Come here. There we go. Look at that. Do you think he wanted it? Look at that. He wanted it.

Glenn: Now, as we get to the spawn, and, really, you know, pre-spawn, spawn area, 55 degrees to low 60s. Now, the fish are up shallow, they're up on the flats, and they're...any kind of cover, you know, docks, skipping a jig under a dock, throwing it on, you know, bridge pilings, throwing it anywhere you can find weeds, little pockets of weeds, something that you submerge in weeds, lily pad fields, I'm looking for maybe a rock pile in the middle of cover. Like, you got a big flat with weeds on it and hydrilla or milfoil and then there's a rock pile in the middle of it or a stump, those are the target areas that I really focus with the jig. And, now, I'm flipping and pitching. And I'm hitting all the targets with flipping and pitching. I'm using a 3/8-ounce jig and, again, with that Rage Craw, and throwing it out there and just letting it fall. And almost always it's on the first drop. Occasionally, I'll pick it up again and try to get a secondary drop, but it's pretty fast fishing. Just flipping and pitching to every cover...you know, target I can find and it's a heck of a lot of fun to catch fish.

The key thing here is, during that fall, a lot of the time, that's when you get bit and it's on slack line, so you're not gonna feel it. So, this is not the time to be looking around, talking to your buddy, or looking on the shoreline, you got to be watching that line and seeing if it jumps, twitches, does any kind of movement, because that usually indicates if there's a fish on the other end. So, pay close attention to that line as it's dropping on slack line. A lot of times, you'll see that bump and just reel up and set the hook. And you've got yourself a good fish.

Then, during the spawn, what I do, I tend to downsize, oftentimes I'll use a finesse jig. I'm using a round head jig, finesse, and I'll take the trailer off and I cut the skirt, so it's right even with the back of the hook. Bass have an uncanny ability, when you put something on their bed, that they'll pick it up by the tail, and not get the hook in their mouth. And they'll carry it off the nest and drop it. It's maddening, because you can set the hook and you just pull it away from them, they don't actually have it. So, that's why I cut it so short, in the hopes that they will...and it's a small compact bait, so it's a lot more difficult for them to do that. But they still manage to do it sometimes, but often, I will do it that way and catch a lot of fish.

I just drag it across...I cast on the other side of the...opposite side of the bed from me and I just slowly drag it across there. And let it sit and get that fish's attention and when he looks down on it then I just give it a little twitch and sometimes I just pick it up just like that. A lot of times you have to make multiple casts in order to catch them, but that's an effective way to catch fish on beds.

Then, during the post-spawn, what I'll do is I'll go back to that 3/8-ounce jig with a Rage Claw trailer on it, and what I'm looking now, is for balls of fry. Because, often, there's a male guarding them. Sometimes you can't see him, a lot of times you can't see him. They're down in the depths or in a bush somewhere or under a dock, but you can see the fry. And so, I like to cast right into the fry or right next to them and a lot of times, that bass comes out from hiding and whacks it. It's a real fun and exciting way to catch fish that way. And it works for about the next, you know, couple three weeks after the spawn. It's a great way to go out there and you can find fish by finding those fry and casting out to them and watching those bass just dive bomb the jig.

The only thing I ask is, if you're fishing beds or if you're fishing fry, when you catch the fish, please, let them go right after you catch him so he can finish doing his job in ensuring a successful spawn for that year.

Boy, he came out and smacked it hard. Come here, you. Got you on a jig, buddy, that's a good one. Got a face full of jig right there. A good fish. You wanted it. Boy, you wanted it. That works. Well, let's go, little buddy. Here we go.

One other important thing to use a jig for during the spring is when those dreaded cold fronts come through. It always happens in the spring, there's lots of fronts and what that tends to do is slow the bite down. And that's when the jig really shines. What will happen, the bass...if you've had, you know, a warming trend or stable weather for a while, the fish will be up shallow, actively chasing baitfish, and feeding up on the flats. And when that front comes through...most fronts, now, I'm not talking severe fronts, but, typically, when a front comes through, what the bass do is one of two things. They'll either bury up in available cover right on that flat. If there's bushes, and weeds, and that sort of thing, they'll just bury right down into it, and, kind of, wait till conditions improve before they start feeding again, or they'll ease off a little bit to the next...you know, a little bit deeper right next to the flats to the next available piece of cover, whatever that may be.

But they're not gonna go far, they've been feeding, guys, they have been eating really well, they're successful, their food source is right there, they're not gonna abandon it. So, don't think they have suddenly disappeared and gone way down deep. They're right nearby, probably within 40, 50 yards from where you were catching them before. But you got to slow down and let the jig do its job.

And here's when I'm using a rubber skirted jig. And I use that because if...do this, find a jig that you've got with a rubber skirt, put it in a sink or your bathtub, don't let your wife know. And let it sit on the bottom and what you'll see is that skirt just slowly open like that, all by itself. And that's perfect, that's what you want. During this time, the fish are kind of reluctant to bite, they're not gonna move far, so what I do, is I throw it out there, let it fall right next to that cover that they may be in, like a deeper weed line and let it sit on a tight line. And just stand there and not move, and what will happen is that jig slowly opens up, and in the meantime, if you're in a boat, your boat's moving a little bit because of the breeze. Even if you're on the shoreline, you've got a little bit of waves on the water, it's lapping up and hitting your line. And you're holding the rod in your hand and you can try to hold it as still as possible, but you're not gonna be able to be...you're not a mannequin.

So, there's little bit of movements that are being transmitted down the line. All that just, kind of, makes it quiver in place while it's opening up. It's something that looks alive and it's not moving and it looks...it's a beefy because, usually, the rubber skirts make the jig look a larger profile. So, it's a big protein snack that's not moving very fast, it's really hard for the bass to resist even during cold front conditions. So, I just let it sit there and then move it a couple of inches and then rinse, lather, repeat, wait again. It's a real slow, sometimes boring way to fish, but it's very effective. You can catch a lot of fish even during tough cold front conditions.

As for colors, I keep it pretty simple. If it's dark outside, cloudy, or if the water is dingy to really muddy, I use black and blue straight up, or black and purple. I might put a little chartreuse dye on my trailer, but other than that, that's about all I use when it's dark. And then when the water's clear, that stained to real clear, and if it's sunny out, then I'll use natural colors like greens and browns and stick to that, those hues, green pumpkin and that kind of thing. Very simple, I don't get, like, all colors of the rainbow on my jig box. If you look at it, it's basically all browns and greens with a little bit of black and blue, because the lakes I fish in are mostly clear.

But that's essentially it, and that's a great way to use a jig during the springtime. I hope those tips help. For more tips and tricks like that, visit BassResource.com.