Spring bass fishing

April 19, 2024 by lbailey

Spring bass fishing, let’s talk about it for the Northeast and then we will cover the south.

Bass fishing the Northeast!

Spring bass fishing is the time of year that every Bass fisherman who is worth his salt looks forward to. The thought of Bass that haven’t seen a lure for at least 3 months is enough to stir any of us into a frenzy.

Spring has it’s advantages but it can have its own unique problems as well. Rising water temperatures can send Bass into flurries of activity that are a Bass fisherman’s dream come true. But, just as quickly, a stubborn early spring cold front can be a nightmare that puts the fish back into hibernation mode.

Can you feel it in the air? The bass can. Springtime ushers in changing air temperature, longer days and stronger sun angles, all of which trigger a fish’s instincts to move out of deep winter holes to search for food and the all-important spawning beds. Even right here in the Northeast, many of the biggest bass will be caught between mid-March and May.

Spring bass fishing diagram shows bass movements.

Typically, the areas that you will want to target will be in the 8- to 12-foot range. This will vary slightly on the overall depth of the lake, but generally speaking, this is a very realistic depth to find fish working toward their spawning grounds. In this instance try a small suspending crankbait. A bait that suspends in the strike zone and can remain very still is key this time of year and will entice even the most finicky fish.

Bass are most definitely creatures of habit. Their instincts—to hunt, take cover, and spawn— are primarily dictated by the temperature of the water in which they live. When the water is warm, between 55- and 65-degrees Fahrenheit, largemouth bass begin to spawn. Bass start to feed massively during pre-spawn, which generally occurs when the water is between 48 and 55 degrees.

Some anglers maintain that the moon cycle is almost as important as water temperature when you’re going after some giant bass pre-spawn. The new moon and full moon are times when bass are very active.

Fishing The South!

Some anglers live in warmer zones and may have been angling for bass for months already. Others have been patiently waiting for the lakes and rivers to thaw and the warm fronts start moving in.

Bass prefer to make nests in shallow water at the base of lilly pads near (relatively speaking) deeper water. Sand or hard clay may be used when bass do not have access to lilly pad bases. Male bass often build nests near structures such as submerged wood or weed beds. Bass stay near these quality spawning sites throughout the spring.

Spring bass fishing top lures of choice.

Larger bass are generally caught early in the fishing season. For smaller waters, anglers often catch the largest bass in late February and March. Fishing in the south anglers catch more large bass in March and April.

After the spawn the females can be found in deeper waters near the nest sites. They will suspend in deeper water as the males stay shallow to keep protecting their fry. The spawn is extremely stressful for bass and they need to feed like crazy to recover. That is why the pre-spawn, spawn, and post spawn are such an amazing time to go bass fishing.

Pay Attention and Catch More Fish

Pay attention to these details. You’ll increase your catch and unlock the secrets to early spring fishing.

“One thing to remember is that the real reason why we all enjoy fishing so much is the fun and camaraderie we experience with our friends and family. Some of the best fishing stories have nothing to do with how many fish we caught or what bait or technique we used. They are about the people we were with when we created those memories”.

March Madness for bass

March 21, 2024 by lbailey

You’ve made it through the winter although there were times when you doubted you would. March Madness for bass, has you forgetting about all the cold weather and subsequent falloff in your fishing activity.

March in the southern U.S. is different from March Madness for bass in the northern U. S. And, of course, it’s different all the way in between, as well as different in every other early-season month.

March Madness For Bass. What a great time to fish for bass.

So it’s hard to say what’s good for one person is also good for another. Especially when you consider that spring bass fishing takes place in many varied types of water.

Nonetheless, there are some things about where to fish that hold true for everyone. So here are eight March Madness for bass fishing tips.

Eight March Madness for bass fishing tips

  1. Be a temperature watcher. Some areas of a lake or pond warm up quicker than others. If you notice a difference of a few degrees in a particular spot, it may be the thing that attracts bass there to warm up and to feed.
  2. Fish late in the day in early spring when the main part of a lake or pond is still cold. Surface water warms up several degrees on a sunny day. Maybe more so in the back reaches where there’s a bay, inlet, marsh, or wetland.
  3. If you have options where to fish for bass, try shallow lakes and ponds first as the season progresses. They warm up quickly with warm and stable weather, more so than deeper bodies of water.
  4. If you have several rods to employ, always keep one rod rigged with a swimbait. There’s probably no lure type that is more universally successful in early to mid spring than a swimbait.
  5. Crankbaits are also staples for spring bass fishing. Try a super-shallow running version in extreme shallows. A slightly deeper running version in 3 to 6 feet of water.
  6. Crayfish populations in lakes warrant the use of crankbaits and jigs. Work them along rocky areas, including rip rap banks. If you can, fish parallel along the shoreline rather than perpendicular to it.
  7. With swimbaits and crankbaits, a sign that you’re fishing too fast is getting “bumped.” This is what happens when a bass nips half-heartedly at a lure.
  8. A lot of spring bass fishing involves searching and covering a good deal of water. That is not what a jig does best, yet jigs catch a lot of spring bass (and other species). First try small-profile jigs that can be worked either along the bottom or up in the water column. Then larger-bodied jigs along the bottom and around cover, such as bushes and stumps.
March Madness for bass basic lures for spring.

Six Additional Tips you can use during March.

Pairing the best early season bass lures with the best fishing techniques can hook a bass. But in the fickle March Madness for bass fishing season, a little extra help can never hurt. Here are a few more early spring bass fishing tips to set you up for success this season:

  • Cast for repeat results: One of the best tips for early spring bass fishing success is to pay close attention to what works for you and what does not. Because bass behavior will change frequently with the fluctuating weather and temperature in spring, each day on the water may call for a different approach. Once you find a technique that wins you a bite, repeat the same cast and retrieve to catch a few more.
  • Fish out the area: Bass will often congregate in the same areas in spring — meaning if you catch one, you may catch a dozen more in the same spot. After your first catch, continue to cast along the same ridge or point. If you do not get a second bite, try fishing the same area from different angles before moving to a new spot.
  • Pay attention to water conditions: Fickle spring weather can make it challenging to locate bass, but by paying attention to the water conditions, you can find bass more quickly on each subsequent spring fishing trip. Once you find an area where bass are congregating, take a mental note of the water color, depth, temperature and bottom conditions. Consider the location of the ridge or point relative to channels and flats. These details will help you track down bass more quickly next time.
  • Use the wind to your advantage: On spring days when the water is clear, bass may see your bait too clearly and be wary of biting. Wind can help to disturb the surface of the water to attract bass better. If you are not getting any bites on a clear lake, try casting when the wind picks up.
  • Fish the mudlines: If you are having trouble locating bass on a spring day, look for mudlines created by wind and waves. Bass will often hide along the edges of mudlines where they have the advantage over baitfish which are drawn there to feed on plankton.

Following ice-out, look for protected shallow coves or bays with dark bottoms, as these spots will be the first to warm up. If these areas contain rocks you’re in good shape, because in these areas insect activity will begin earlier, which will attract baitfish, which in turn, will attract the bass.

Find Early Prespawn Bass

December 26, 2023 by lbailey

Find Early prespawn bass fishing gives anglers an excellent opportunity to catch monster bass. As the bass emerge from their deeper wintertime haunts in preparation for the spawn. They are notoriously indiscriminate when it comes to their feeding behavior. The result is simply giant bass and lots of them.

Find Early prespawn bass fishing gives anglers an excellent opportunity to catch monster bass.

Although early prespawn bass can be quite predictable, it’s important to understand they’re like people in a sense each one exhibits unique behavior.
Whenever you approach the beginning stages of the prespawn, I suggest going through a thorough process of elimination.

While some folks like to start deep and work their way shallow, I am actually the polar opposite. I always target the backs of creeks and short pockets before I do anything else.

More importantly, however, I believe shallow water plays host to more bass than you might think.

It doesn’t matter where you go there are always going to be bass in shallow water. Will they be the ones to win a tournament? That really depends on the fishery, but shallow areas give me a complete overview of the water temperature which is a huge deal in the early prespawn.

Find Early Prespawn Bass with these important factors.

Every bass angler is guilty of it. After months of ridiculously frigid water temperatures, we become glued to our electronics, searching for the warmest water possible. This obsessive behavior isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but make sure to keep an open mind towards other important factors as well.

In my opinion, I think 50 degrees is the magic number for early prespawn movement. At that point, they are ready to move and make something happen. But there’s something much more important than water temperature. Their clock heavily correlates with the length of days and it’s an easy thing to overlook. You can have a brutal cold front come in and they will still be steadily moving up if the days are getting longer.

Now that you have a basic understanding of the various factors that influence the behavior of early prespawn bass, you’re ready to start catching. These are my hard to beat five areas.

  • Funnels
  • Primary points
  • Secondary points
  • Main lake flats
  • Backwater ponds

See You On The River

This CT River Fishing Guidebook is the most comprehensive compilation of maps, Lees Lures and river Fishing Factors I have ever put together.

Strategies For Bass

Strategies For Bass paperback has the most impressive collection of up-to-date information, anglers will learn everything they need to know to catch more bass.

Strategies for Bass a 228 page book by Lee Bailey Jr.

Lees Spring Seasonal Approach

December 6, 2023 by lbailey

Lees Spring Seasonal Approach Guide is a system I’ve adapted to help find bass on unfamiliar waters. With spring arriving in most of the northern waters. The spawn completing in the south. I thought a spring time article from my book (Strategies For Bass) would be appropriate. As a retired touring pro, I fished all kinds of lakes and rivers in many regions throughout the year.

Fishing Factors Lees Spring Seasonal Approach

Some diehard early season fishermen know to head for the waters with current. Rivers and river system lakes will most often offer you some of the best early season bass fishing (especially smallmouths) in your area.

Obviously, I didn’t have time to become intimately familiar with each of these venues prior to tournament competition. When you only have three practice days. Unlocking the secrets of a large river system. You need some guidance. Helping you to quickly get on a viable fish catching pattern. Lees Spring Seasonal Approach provides that information, regardless of where or what part of spring I’m fishing. It helps me make educated guesses about where bass are most likely to be. You need to understand all stages of spring bass migration. It’s a system that quickly eliminates unproductive water and helps me home in on areas holding the most bass.

Lees Spring Seasonal Approach Pre-spawn: (48 to 55 degrees)

Some diehard early season fishermen know to head for the waters with current. Rivers and river system lakes will most often offer you some of the best early season bass fishing (especially smallmouths). There are things that are beginning to happen on these bodies of water in the spring that trigger the fish to begin this early season feed. The water temperature and the water level in river systems are on the rise. And we can all feel the suns rays are becoming stronger and more direct. All this is leading to an increased activity level for bait and bass.

Temperatures reaching into the mid to upper 50 degree mark will begin to trigger bass activity. Few however, acknowledge the fact that river smallmouths thrive in SPRING cold water (low 40’s) and will begin the spawn ritual before the water reaches the low 50’s. As mentioned earlier, even a slight increase in temperature is all that is needed to trigger the bites in a river system. A temperature rise from 38-43 degrees is a great temperature change for an early season river basser, especially if it happens over a period of only a few days. Bass will become extremely active during the first water temperature increase they encounter after a long cold winter.

Mid to upper 50 degree mark will begin to trigger bass activity.

Some of my best smallmouth catches on the Connecticut River happen in the early season. “One trip in particular was with a great friend of mine Don Sanzo. We were fishing an early season tournament. The river water temperature was hovering at a whopping 46 degrees. I had found these really big smallmouths holding on a shallow ledge in some of the shallowest and fastest water in the river. We ran 40 plus miles to get to those fish through rapids and some pretty nasty ledge only 18” deep to get there. When we arrived at this ledge we preceded to catch smallmouths from 3-4 pounds. As a matter of fact we hooked up on big smallmouths on the first 12 consecutive casts”. Not only did we have a great day of fishing but we won the tournament and set a standing record for the Connecticut River. A record setting 10 fish limit of smallmouth bass that weighed in at 31.14 pounds.

During this real cold water I prefer to use jigs

Some of the greatest early season smallmouth locations are shallow ledges of shale, gravel or hard packed sand adjacent to drop-offs with scattered rocks, brush and weeds that might have survived the winter. The rocky shore adds warmth to the water and awakens food (crawfish, insects and minnows). This hard bottom also has acted as a current break for these fish to stage near all winter. One thing is for certain rock ledges and shelves stay the same for the bass through-out the winter and high water periods. It is this consistency that makes ledges and rocks the best choice in the spring.

I will usually begin my fishing on these current waters with the water temperature being as low as 42 degrees. During this real cold water I prefer to use jigs, and tubes to entice these early pre-spawn smallies. Fishing however, becomes far better as the water temperatures reaches the mid 40’s, with the action reaching phenomenal proportions when the water temperature reaches the low 50’s. The smallmouths will bunch up in the above mentioned areas; these places will give you action all day. Some of the biggest smallmouths of the year are caught during the rivers early pre-spawn period.

Fast Water Pre-Spawn Smallmouth

December 6, 2023 by lbailey

A trophy-sized Fast Water Pre-Spawn Smallmouth is what drives us to spend so much time, energy and money on our passion.

“I find that Fast Water Pre-Spawn Smallmouth always leads me to the upper part of rivers”.

Nearly 30 years ago, I was able to first connect the dots to my favorite river system and its tributaries. Without much known data to support my own theories, I sought out to understand why my favorite areas of the river system were loaded in May and June and mostly devoid of smallmouth thereafter. I struggled to understand why my river smallmouths were in abundance for 4 weeks out of the year, and then no longer present. For me I found the high water time in may and early June led me to the upper rive in the fastest water. It dwelled on me how highly migratory river smallmouth bass can be. If free to navigate without obstructions, they’ll migrate long-distance like all other river fish species are capable of.

I find that Fast Water Pre-Spawn Smallmouth always leads me to the upper part of rivers. I mean the fastest and shallowest water with deeper pools adjacent to them. In pres-pawn they will bunch up in the 2 to 4 foot range. In rivers they are primarily feeding on crawfish. This is because the crawfish at this time are very lethargic. They are actually being sucked out of their holes in the banks. I can duplicate this fast Water Pre-Spawn Smallmouth pattern on any headwaters

Fast Water Pre-Spawn Smallmouth

Without river rat intuition and an extensive history with the river system, I could have otherwise blown through the staging pools unbeknownst and without ever testing them. It’s easy to ignore staging sites on rivers. Most anglers wouldn’t know how to identify one. Good spots like this one get revisited and used annually by the same fish.

Learn more in my new book “Strategies for Bass“.

Water temperature must be optimal as well. It’ll single-handedly influence a river migration in spring. 40 degree range, it’s too cold. At 48 to 52, we’ll finally find some smallmouth success, but only from isolated staging sites. Good luck ever locating them as 99% of the river will be vacant. Middle 50’s and slowly climbing, we’re getting hot! River’s loaded, and we’ll have a bonanza through spawn’s conclusion in early June where 50 fish a trip is to be expected.

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