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Using Search Baits for Springtime Bass

crankbait jigsEarly in the spring can be the best time to fish for bass! Here in Washington State where I fish, the smaller lakes actually freeze over for 3 months. February is when they usually start to thaw out.

That’s when I fish for springtime bass with search baits!

Typically the bass will be in less than 10-feet of water around vegetation. As the lakes start to warm up the fish feel it and start to get a little more active. When the water temperature is the 30’s it is very slow fishing. I’ve caught bass in 33-degree water before, it can be done but it’s difficult. When the water warms up to the 40’s is when I really get excited! This is when the biggest fish in the lake will start eating! I try to focus on shallow vegetation at this time, with a large percentage of fish moving up into the 2-10-foot range. They will get around any healthy vegetation available and start to eat!

When the water is in the 40’s the lily pads will start to grow. Even if you can’t see them on the surface of the lake doesn’t mean they aren’t green and growing! When they start growing, they will be submerged for a bit until they grow up out of the water. This is the perfect cover for the bass to hide in and around during the springtime to ambush bait fish. Bluegill and sunfish are the perfect meal for the bass, so I try to use baits that mimic that food source.

crankbaits bass

I always have a couple of search baits tied on and ready to go in the springtime. A V&M Pacemaker Lighting Blade jig matched up with a V&M Thunder Shad Jr. as a trailer, and also a Spro Fat John 60 shallow running crankbait.

vm baits

I choose my jig size based on how deep I’m trying to fish the bait. If I think the bass are holding in that 2 to 5-foot zone I will use a 3/8-oz. Lighting Blade. If I feel that they are in the 5 to 10-foot depth, I will tie on a 1/2-oz. Lighting Blade.

bass fishingThe same goes for the Spro Fat John 60 crankbait, if I want to fish the bait in 2 to 5-feet, I will fish the bait on 20-pound Sunline line to keep the bait running shallower. If I want to fish the Fat John in the 5 to 10-foot range I will go down to 12 or 14-pound. The thinner diameter line will allow me to run the bait deeper. I always have two Fat John crankbaits rigged up on two of the exact same rods and reels but with different sized line. It all depends on where the fish are holding in any given lake.

You just have to let the fish tell you what they want.

bass lures

I have a box full of the different size V&M Pacemaker Lighting Blade jigs so that I can pick the right jig for the specific situation I am faced with. These bladed jigs come in a lot of different colors, so you can “match the hatch” and choose the right color.

lure trailerI keep it simple and use the V&M Thunder Shad Jr. as a trailer because it’s the perfect size and has a great swimming action.

It is the perfect combination when paired with the Pacemaker Lighting Blade!

I use a 7’6″ MH Lews composite glass and graphite rod, 6.4:1 Lews reel spooled up with 20-pound Sunline Super FC Sniper fluorocarbon.

bass crankbaits

By having a good selection of Spro crankbaits I am able pick the right color that I need to fish. In the springtime, I really like craw patters when I’m fishing crankbaits. It seems like the fish will always bite them! I fish the Fat John 60 on a 7′ MH Lews composite glass and graphite rod, 5.4:1 Lews reel with 12 to 20-pound Sunline Super FC Sniper fluorocarbon, depending on how deep I want the bait to run.

With both of these baits I purposefully try to get them down in and around the vegetation. After all, that’s where the big girls are! When I’m fishing the Lighting Blade or Fat John 60 around any vegetation, it’s so important to run the baits into the lily pad stems or clumps of weeds. When you run your baits into a pad stem or a clump of weeds, you want to give it a “pop” and make it dart and look like its hurt or injured. The bass will think it’s an easy meal and eat it!

springtime bass

The next time you have shallow vegetation in the springtime, pull out a V&M Pacemaker Lighting Blade or a Spro Fat John 60 and give them a try. They both flat-out catch them in the early springtime!

“Do Whatever It Takes”

Nik Autrey

Nik Autrey
"I grew up fishing with my grandpa in Port Angeles, Washington and by the age of 8 I knew making a career in this industry was what I wanted to do wit...