Springtime… When the Old Can Still Become New
article by Kenny Covington
I have found Springtime to be complex when fishing for bass. Fish can still be in a pre-spawn mode, some will be in full spawn, while others will have already spawned and be in a total post spawn stage.
No matter what stage of the spawn the fish are in, remember one thing: they still have to eat and are still catchable. Spring time often brings diverse weather conditions, and our approach and techniques to catching bass can be as well.
Let’s discuss some forgotten spring time techniques that are still as effective now as they were when they first originated, they just aren’t the “in style” way of doing things now. All bass fishermen, me included, will sometimes turn a blind eye towards lures and techniques that used to work.
Here are some forgotten lures that will help you fill your livewell this spring:
THE FLOATING WORM
Rigged with a #5 barrel swivel and a 6 inch leader of 12 lb monofilament, the floating worm is one of the more effective spawning lures for bass. Using visible colors such as pink, white, or banana the key to this lure is the cadence used to retrieve it and the manner in which it is rigged.
Using a thin wire offset worm hook, you want to Texas rig the worm. However, what you want to try and do is allow the worm to have a bit of sag between the bottom curve of the hook and the turn of the offset. This will allow the worm to move erratically when twitched through the water.
I try to keep the worm high enough where I can see the action of the lure, and the clearer the water, the quicker I will move it through the water column. Strikes are easier to detect, and the catch ratio is very high. Only in stained water will I slow the movement down, but I still keep it in sight during the retrieve.
The original silver floating Rapala has caught more fish than any jerkbait in existence. When moved on top with a soft subtle twitch of your rod, the resulting strikes can be spectacular.
While the Smithwick Rattlin’ Rogue has long been a local favorite, I have found that the Rapala is a better choice when fishing for fish that are heavily pressured or those that have finished spawning and are in a post spawn situation.
The Rapala is lighter than most lures and requires a different rod and reel set up to use it properly. I will use a 6 ½ medium action spinning rod and match it with 10 lb. monofilament. The lighter rod and line allow for better cast control and lure action.
Before the Zoom Super Fluke became the soft plastic jerkbait of choice, the Slug-oh was the bass fishing standard. With its erratic movements and slim profile, the places to fish it and the ability to entice strikes from anywhere was the lure’s drawing power.
Usually two or three short quick twitches of your rod tip and a pause will allow the lure to move erratically and slowly dive like a wounded baitfish. Much like fishing a Texas rigged soft plastic, allow yourself to feel the fish load on your rod before setting the hook.
The Slug-oh is easy to use on standard bait casting equipment. It is made in a 4 ½ inch version, but I have always preferred the larger 6 inch version. As for colors, I have found Arkansas Shiner, Rainbow Trout and Black/Gold to be effective on most of our area lakes.
MINI CAROLINA RIG
A Carolina rig has been a bass fishing standard for years and is one of the few year round productive techniques. Using a “mini Carolina rig” after a nasty cold front during the spring of the year is a deadly technique, especially for fish that are dead set on spawning but have been affected by a major frontal passage.
Armed with a 6 ½ to 7 foot spinning rod, I will scale down my mini rig by using no more than a 3/8 ounce sinker, a small barrel swivel and a leader no more than a foot in length. I like using 6/20 braid for my main and will use 10 lb mono for my leader. This set up will allow me to fish the rig very slowly.
As far as lures go, I prefer small craw worms or 4 inch lizards, and I keep my color selections quite simple. Shades of watermelon or darker hues such as Junebug or Black/Blue are favorites.
In closing, I surely hope these techniques and ideas will help you put more fish in the boat for you. Remember, nothing is set in stone when it comes to this great sport, so don’t be afraid to experiment with lure choices, colors and retrieves. Let the fish tell you what they like. Please be careful on the water, catch one for me, and I will see you next month!