Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Cold Water Bassin' Tactics

The ice is finally starting to melt in my neck of the woods, so that means only one water!!!  This will be my second year in a row to start fishing in March.  Many anglers shy away from starting earlier in the season because of the colder water temperatures and the less than stable weather conditions.  Does that mean you have to wait until May to catch quality fish and lots of them....nope!  There are several techniques early in the season that any skill level angler should be able to execute on their own with good results.   So here is a list of baits to have handy the next couple of months....

1) Jerkbait

Jerkbaits come in all shapes, sizes, and colors...and can get EXPENSIVE, so pick and choose what fits into your budget!  Each brand produces their own unique action...some float, some suspend, some quiver when you pause your retrieve, some dart erratically.  For this time of year a shallow suspending jerkbait can really get a ho-hum school of fish fired up.  A slow jerk-jerk...pause....jerk-jerk pause retrieve is most common for these lures.  The longer the pause sometimes the better, and most strikes do come on the pause.  Who better to learn how to fish a jerkbait than from the legend himself...KVD.

Three jerkbaits that would be worth its weight in gold, especially for the first timer would include the following...

- Smithwick Suspending Rogue
- Lucky Craft Pointer
- Luck-E-Strike RC STX

Look for baitfish colors or even bluegill colors....slow your retrieve down and hold on!  A rod with a nice soft tip will be necessary to keep those tiny treble hooks pinned.  Your standard MH Fast action rod won't cut it for this application.

2) Flat Sided Squarebill

Flat sided squarebills are important this time of year because of their lesser pronounced action in the water.  Flat squarebills don't have as wide of a wobble as normal squarebills, which more closely mimics the swimming style of baitfish in colder water.  Squarebills should be fished with the intention of hitting bottom and running into cover just like you would in the summer months...maybe use a slower gear ratio this time around to slow down your retrieve.  Switch things up a bit, and maybe add a couple pauses in your retrieve to get a bite going.

Here are my top three flat sided squarebills...

- Spro Little John
- Bomber Flat A
- Lucky Craft Flat CB

3) Jig

Jigs are big profile baits, and bass love nothing more than using the least amount of energy to get the biggest meal.  So crawling a jig and trailer this time of year can produce some big bass!  Craw patterns are key...bright colors in muddy water and more natural colors in clearer water.  Switch up your trailer choices and let the fish tell you what they want.  All it takes is one bite to build on a pattern.  3/8 and 1/2 oz jigs should be plenty to get you going.

My favorite jig to throw is Johnny C's California Reservoir Jigs...hand tied, made to order, and some awesome color combinations!

4) Spinnerbait

Slow rolling a spinnerbait around wood and rock will definitely get you bit in the early months.  You are essentially trying to draw a reaction bite, and what bass wouldn't mind eating a huge meal again with just a little bit of effort?  Spinnerbaits are great search baits and can cover a lot of water quickly.  So get a lighter 1/4 to 3/8 oz spinnerbait and slow it down....way down!

Some of my favorite spinnerbaits to throw include the following

- Revenge Spinnerbaits (Double willow or single colorado)
- Booyah Spinnerbaits (Same as above or double colorado)
- Mac's Tackle Spinnerbaits (Great local company with some great baits!!!)

5) Rat-L-Trap

Rat-L-Traps or lipless crankbaits again come in all shapes and sizes.  Save your money and stick to a couple brands that you will have confidence in.  Make long casts...yo yo the bait, slow roll it with intermittent pauses...let the fish tell you what they are looking for.  Baitfish colors as well as bright reds and oranges are hot come spring always have a couple of these handy.

My top three lipless crankbaits ....

- Strike King Red Eye Shad
- Bill Lewis Rat-L-Trap
- Rapala Clackin Rap

Hopefully these 5 tactics will help you put some nice fish on the board early this season.  All of these baits can be used year round as get some good practice in while the foot traffic is low on your home lakes.

Tight lines this year!



  1. Nice informative post on some early season favorites. I am anxiously awaiting ice out in the lakes up here. The rivers are mostly ice free but the pike and eyeballs have not even made a move yet and it needs to warm up just a bit to get em going. Hope that happens soon.

  2. Thanks Tom! Early season had always been a mystery to me, but hopefully this post gives some good direction on what to have handy.