Love Is In the Air:
Understanding the movement of Spring Bass
By Bruce Callis
We have officially started spring on our calendars, but when do bass enter spring? Bass are driven by the moon and water temperatures that work on their body, setting in motion the biological clock and driving them to move into the shallows to breed and produce the young for the next year.
It is our job to decide in what phase they are in and where they are. The longer days and warmer weather mixed with the sunlight starts to warm the shallows. The cool nights bring the water temperatures back down. Once we start to get warmer overnight temperatures, the shallows don’t cool as much and with each passing day, the main lake water temperatures start to rise. Somewhere along the way, the internal clock starts going off and the bass start moving. Those deep water winter haunts may still hold some of the late spawners, but not for long.
As the bass get that love sick feeling and start their movement to the spawning areas, you need to look for the migration route of the river or creek channels. Look for key points alone the way, such as funnel areas along the route. These areas can be bridges and rip rap leading from the main lake to the backwaters. As bass move, they will seek areas they can settle on to find food and rest and funnel areas are prime areas for bass to congregate. They must past through the funnel to get to the spawning flats. Work the rip rap with a crankbait, making parallel casts. Also, don’t overlook the bigger bass that may be holding out just a little deeper with a jig or soft plastic.
The next area is the primary points along the route. These are points that come out into the main lake channel. They offer bass a great location for feeding up as they move along the channel. They also offer the safety of deeper water. If they have moved up on the point, a shallow running crankbait can be deadly. But remember to work the tops and all along the drop. Suspending jerkbaits, spinnerbaits and soft plastics or jigs can be some of the prime baits. A deeper diving crankbait can also be worked down the point for those holding out deeper or moving past.
As the bass continue to move back towards the flats and coves, look for those outstanding features along the channel that bass may stop and hold on. These can be stumps, rocks, and laydowns. These may be harder to find, but sometimes they will hold the bigger bass. These are the same stops they will make as they move off the spawning beds in the late spring and into their summer holding grounds. Work them with jigs, soft plastics and other baits like a crankbait. Secondary points are also key areas to look for bass as they make their journey to the back of the coves and feeder creeks.be from old stream beds or other natural depressions. There doesn’t have to be a huge drop, but often less than a foot can offer bass and easy means of traveling within the flat. A great way to cover these areas can be with search baits. One such baits is a lipless crankbait like the SPRO Aruku Shad. Make fan cast within the area looking for the bass holding off the shallows waiting to move up even shallower. Another good search bait is a crankbait, like a SPRO Little John.
While the first wave of bass move up into the shallows, remember, a lot of times the first wave usually doesn’t include the biggest bass. These bass will still be moving up as the urge becomes greater and the water warms more and more. But the first wave is even more susceptible to the effects of weather fronts. They may pull off the flats to deeper water, but they are not going to move back out into the main channel. They will seek the secondary points with deeper water. They will move deeper into the cover, but will still eat.
As the water temperature breeches the 50 degree mark and the shallows warm, look for bass to move up into the shallows along the route to feed on the baitfish warming there. As James “World Wide” Watson says, “once the water temperature hits 50 degrees, I have confidence that I can get them to hit my buzzbait.” And he has proven it on may occasions! Working the laydowns and points with his buzzbait and enticing some very impressive bass to attack his bait.
I personally will pay attention to lily pad fields that are still just beginning to sprout under the surface. On sunny days, baitfish will move up into these areas looking to feed. Bass will follow them, that is a given. Look for movement or baitfish hitting the surface. I love the SPRO E-Pop 80 for these areas. You can pop it or walk the dog with it. And the bass love it. The last time out, the water temperature was 52 degrees and I could see the bass up there. And I threw my popper in there, made 2 twitches and she exploded on it. After an awesome fight, I landed a sweet 6 pound 10 ounce bass that had been in water that had barely covered her back.
Understanding why bass move and where to start looking can make a day on the water more productive. It can help you eliminate areas that will be less productive a lot easier. And knowing what baits to throw in these areas will make it a lot easier too. The main thing to remember is that you aren’t going to hit the motherload of bass without doing your homework and without putting time on the water. But the the big bass dreams are made of are moving up to spawn and now is the time to find them. Go have fun and catch your new personal best!