Early spring brings some of the best shallow crankbait fishing of the year to many rivers and lakes as bass move shallow to feed just prior to spawning. These tips can help you crank up more pre-spawn bass.
1. Start Near Spawning Areas – If you know creek sections where big numbers of bass normally spawn, trust that those same general areas will hold a lot of pre-spawn fish. Likewise, if a lake has defined spawning pockets, fish the banks that lead into those pockets. If you don’t know where fish historically spawn the most in a particular lake, study a lake map in consideration of where bass should spawn and pick starting areas accordingly.
2. Work Weed Edges – Various kinds of shallow vegetation hold plentiful crawfish and consequently bass early in the year. For fully submerged grass, swim a shallow crankbait over the top. For vegetation that reaches the top or very close, focus on inside and outside edges and gaps. Position the boat close to the vegetation and make short casts so you can really pick apart the cover.
3. Don’t Forget Docks – Bass commonly spawn around dock supports, and they’ll lurk beside the same supports and in the shade beneath docks to feed prior to the spawn. Swim your crankbaits past dock supports, and whenever possible, cast up under docks.
4. Use a 1-2 Punch – A Bandit 100 and 200 both offer a fairly tight action that’s well suited for fish that remain a bit chilled, and both are the right size to match prevalent forage. A 100 Series stays quite shallow, running to about 3 feet. A 200 Series will reach 7 or 8 feet. Together, these two crankbaits cover the prime zone for a lot of pre-spawn fishing. Keep both handy and throw the 100 to the bank and the 200 to the outside edges of weeds and around slightly deeper dock supports and other cover. For deeper highland lakes, where pre-spawn areas tend to be somewhat deeper, you might shift to a 1-2 punch of a Bandit 200 and 300.
5. Mix Craw Colors – Spring is prime time for craw patterns and other colors that features plenty of chartreuse, red, orange and yellow. Good examples include Bandit’s Mistake, Spring Craw Yellow and Chartreuse Black Stripe colors. The bass tend to be relate to craws this time of year, and waters are often more stained than normal from late winter and early spring rains. The preferred flavor can vary daily, though. Mix up bright colors and let the bass dictate their preferences.
6. Bump Stuff – We know. Bumping cover and the bottom with a crankbait isn’t distinctive to the pre-spawn. In fact, it’s the key to drawing more strikes in almost every cranking situation. It’s so important, though, that it just can’t be ignored. Kick grass, dock supports, stumps and any other cover you see and grind the bottom a bit when you can.
7. Cover Water – Finally, realize that pre-spawn cranking tends to be much more about working zones than hitting hotspots. Find a creek that has the kind of cover and depths you expect bass to be using and work the bank. If it doesn’t produce, move to another. That doesn’t mean cranking fast or even moving the boat quickly. It simply means not lingering in a spot, and continually seeking new casting targets. That said, when you do catch a fish, repeat the cast and blanket the area pretty heavily before moving again. Where you find one bass, you’ll often find more.