10 Tips on What to Use and Where to Fish for Bass in the Spring

By Ken Schultz

Mar 12, 2020

Wherever you fish, these tips about what lures to use, how to use them, and where to fish for bass in the spring, will help you get more strikes

March in the southern U.S. is different from March 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. So it’s hard to say what’s good for one person is also good for another in a different locale, 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, just maybe not in every place at the exact same time. So here are ten bass fishing tips to help you figure out what to use and where to fish for bass in the spring.

  1. Be a temperature watcher. Some areas of a lake or pond warm up quicker than others, and 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, and 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 spinnerbait. There’s probably no lure type that is more universally successful in early to mid spring than a spinnerbait. Start with a ¼-ounce tandem-blade model, perhaps with a smaller Colorado blade followed by a larger willowleaf blade.
  5. Crankbaits are also staples for spring bass fishing. Try a super-shallow running version in extreme shallows, and a slightly deep running version in 3 to 6 feet of water. Don’t burn the retrieve early in the season, and vary retrieve speeds. Pausing the lure occasionally is very effective.
  6. In lakes with crayfish populations, try crankbaits and jigs that are worked along rocky areas, including rip rap banks. If you can, fish parallel along the shoreline rather than perpendicular to it.
  7. With spinnerbaits and crankbaits, a sign that you’re fishing too fast is getting “bumped,” which is what happens when a bass nips half-heartedly at a lure, or swipes at it without getting impaled. You can sometimes see or feel this happen; when it does, fish slower, try a stop-and-go retrieve, and/or use a different type of lure, especially if its a hard plug that suspends.
  8. Try a hard or soft jerkbait in clear water, when it’s still cool, and where you’re fishing along a sloping bank or over submerged vegetation, and twitch it occasionally. As the water warms later in spring, you can fish a hard, suspending jerkbait more aggressively.
  9. 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, and then larger-bodied jigs along the bottom and around cover, such as bushes and stumps.
  10. If you can’t resist the temptation to use a surface plug, at least fish it slowly, with long pauses. A soft approach that imitates a stunned baitfish is about right. Also try a minnow-style plug as a surface lure by just crawling it slowly enough across the surface to create a wake.
Ken Schultz
Ken Schultz
Ken Schultz was a longtime staff writer for Field & Stream magazine and is the former Fishing Editor of ESPNoutdoors.com. He’s written and photographed nineteen books on sportfishing topics, plus an annual fishing tips calendar, and his writing has appeared on various websites for more than two decades. His author website is kenschultz.com