Winter or early spring is the most challenging time to fish. When the water temperature is in the 30s to low 40s, there are only a few lures in your box that will work.
One of my favorite baits is the suspending jerkbait. These lures can be fished extremely slow and suspended right in front of the fish enticing a bite. Suspending jerkbaits come in all sizes and colors. They can be effectively fished in many different depths of the water column.
The key to selecting a size and color boils down to two things.
One, what depth range do you anticipate the fish to be holding in? The size of the bill dictates the lure’s depth. The bigger the bill the deeper it will dive. Even in very cold water, bass will come up to the lure. I would rather have a jerkbait above the fish than have one that dives under the fish. For example, if the fish are sitting in 10 feet of water, I would select a jerkbait that dives 6 to 8 feet. You can really play with your line size to help you get the depth you want out of your lure. The lighter the line the deeper the bait will go, and the heavier the line the shallower it will run.
Two, what forage are the fish feeding on? I like a shad color in clear water for the majority of my fishing, but if the water has some stain to it I will go with a chartreuse color. If you are fishing in a natural lake with perch, then a perch color lure may be the ticket.
This time of year bites may be few and far between, so tie a lure on you have confidence in and stick with it. I think you may be surprised how many fish a suspending jerkbait can put in the boat for you when nothing else will seem to work. Go buy some of these lures and give them a shot.
Tube jigs are a great smallmouth and largemouth lure. They can be rigged several different ways, and fished anywhere from open water to thick vegetation. One big problem with the tube jig is they can be prone to losing fish when Texas rigged. The hook can have a hard time penetrating through the thick plastic.
Here is how I tweak my hook to ensure I catch every fish that bites.
I rig the tube like I would with any other Texas rigged lure. See how here. Make sure to leave the eye of the hook exposed. Do not pull the tube all the way over the eye. Doing this will lead to the tube balling up and not allowing the hook to come through the plastic.
Once you have the tube rigged and are ready to skin hook on the other side, slightly bend the hook outward. Do not over bend it! This will lead to weakening the hook. You just want to slightly open the hook more than it was originally. This is the key; the hook will now easily hook in the fish’s mouth without the worry of it going back through all the plastic.
This little modification will really help you hook up when fishing the tube Texas rigged. Try it and you won’t be disappointed.
There is a common thought in bass fishing, if you want to catch bigger fish, use bigger baits. I agree with this, but you typically don’t get as many bites using larger lures. I personally like catching all sizes of bass and hate to throw a bait that I know will only get a few bites.
One large lure that will catch big and small bass alike is a 10″ worm. This bait looks more like a snake in the water than a worm. Don’t let that bother you, it will catch all sizes of bass. I like to use the Berkley 10″ Power Worm. Black is my favorite color. That’s the only color you need. This bait works in clear and murky water.
Huge worms like this seems to work the best in very warm water. Bass get a little lethargic in hot water and like a slow moving meal. They normally will not pass up an opportunity at eating breakfast, lunch, and dinner all in one bite.
One misconception I have heard is you can only use big baits in big lakes and that you must use small baits in small bodies of water. I recently proved that theory wrong. I fished my pond using this lure and caught multiple small and large bass. Think about it, have you ever seen big snakes or bull frogs around small ponds? I know I have. Bass in all sizes of lakes and ponds are used to eating big things. Try this lure and see how it works for you.
By now almost everyone owns a Whopper Plopper. If you don’t own one, you need to. This is a fish catching machine. Bass, pike, and muskies love the sound and action of this bait. Check out my “Most Exciting way to Bass Fish” post here to learn more about this bait and others.
This bait comes with some sticky, sharp treble hooks. Hooking the fish is usually pretty easy on the Whopper Plopper, but we have all had those days when they just don’t hook up. If you encounter a day when the fish flash under it, swirl near it, or miss the bait entirely try this trick.
Take the back treble off the bait and change it to a feather or bucktail treble hook. This changes the look of the bait and gives the fish something extra to see. Often times by adding this style hook, the fish fully commit to striking the bait.
I think this will really help you on those days when the fish keep missing your Whopper Plopper. This also works very well on popping style topwater baits too!
This past Memorial Day was one of the hottest I can remember. While most Hoosiers were watching the Indy 500, my nephew and I were on the lake catching some crappies.
It was 90 degrees and super humid. This would have been a great day to relax in the water, like many others were doing. The water temperature actually rose 8 degrees during the time we were on the lake. It was 76 in the morning and 84 by the afternoon!
The crappies are pretty much done with the spawn and are transitioning to their deep water summer patterns. When the water temperatures get into the 80’s they are usually located in deep water. The pattern we found is almost done now for the summer. We caught our fish in shallow water around docks. The fish were located in the shadiest parts. Skipping plastic grubs worked the best. (Check out a previous post about my favorite crappie lures.)
Crappie fishing can be very difficult on hot, calm, sunny days. If you are faced with these conditions in late spring to early summer, it may be worth skipping some docks to see if you can get a few bites. I know we had a great Memorial Day on the water.
The first fish you probably ever caught was a bluegill. Bluegills have been hooking kids on fishing for years. These fish are notorious for being easy to catch, but what do you do when these fish won’t cooperate? Go weightless.
Bluegills go through times when they are very fickle and hard to catch. When I encounter this situation, I go very basic in my rigging and it almost always catches them.
The tackle I use is 6 pound Berkley XL line, a small bobber, and a #4 Aberdeen hook. Wax worms or crickets are my bait of choice when bluegill are in a negative mood and won’t bite anything else. The light line paired with this hook allows the bait to fall very slowly. Bluegill can not resist the slow fall of a wax worm or cricket.
This technique works the best when the fish are located in shallow clear water. The fish need to be able to see the slow fall of the bait in order for it to work. This is also ideal to use in the spring when the fish are spawning.
Bass fisherman talk about “finesse” fishing all the time. This is an ultra “finesse” way to catch bluegill, but I guarantee you it will produce fish when nothing else will.
Seeing a bass make a meal of your offering is rare. Visually seeing how a big bass will react to your lure is also very uncommon, but this is exactly what happens when fishing for bedded bass. Fishing for spawning bass presents a very unique challenge. When the water temperature reaches 55 to 65 degrees bass start seeking out spawning areas. This is also when you should start hunting the shallows for bass.
The tube bait comes in many different sizes and colors. The tube is very subtle which makes it a good choice on very finicky fish. This bait is a StrikeKing Bitsy Tube.
The craw is another great lure for bed fishing. Bass don’t like these guys hanging around and will usually eat this style of bait. This bait is a NetBait Paca Chunk.
Bass can be very finicky when they are on their beds. One color of bait I really like to use is white. I like to see exactly where the bait is in the bed and white allows this.
Last but not least is the Big Bite Baits 3.5 Warmouth. Big bass love eating bluegill, and this bait looks just like one. They also hate bluegill because they eat the eggs and their babies. Put this bait in front of the bass and it will either pick it up and move it, or swallow it. Either way, it works.
Try these few baits next time you encounter bass on their beds. Patience is key when fishing like this, but keep putting one of these lures in the bed and the bass will eventually eat it.