Catch Your Biggest Bass Right Now
By Todd Reed
Spring is probably the most anticipated season of the year here in Iowa. Flowers start popping up, the grass is bright green, wildlife is everywhere and the chill of winter has left for another year. As outdoors people, our anticipation turns to enjoying the trails, perhaps some spring hunting, mushrooms, and of course spring fishing. Each and every year anglers flood the rivers and lakes for their first chance to reel in a fish from that open water. I always look forward to this same opportunity as well, because I know this month will most likely be the month I catch my largest bass of the year.
This isn’t luck, there is no secret pond or lake, this is simply nature coming alive with the dawn of spring. Like no other time of the year, now is your best chance to catch your biggest largemouth bass of the season, and perhaps your life.
If you are looking to hook up with an Iowa giant, there are certain things to do to increase your chances of that picture of you holding the giant for all your jealous friends to see. Let’s break down some of the key items that will increase your chances of all your friends becoming envious of you.
Location: I have always said, “anyone can catch fish, the hard part is finding them”. Toddlers, first time anglers, they all seem to catch fish at times, but doing it consistently is another story. In late April and early May fishing, or should I say catching comes down to location. There are a few key factors that make some lakes better than others in the spring. Shallow water lakes, for Iowa I would consider lakes with less than twenty feet of water, will warm quickly and get the ecosystem of that lake started quickly. The less water, the faster the sun and wind can warm all of its depths. This doesn’t mean that deep lakes are not worth fishing in the spring, however those shallower lakes will have more active and hungry fish in them. This will get the bass feeding weeks ahead of other lakes and they will start to put on the pounds after those feedings. The most attractive areas on these lakes this time of year include the rocky shorelines. Whether you fish from a boat or from the shore, big bass will be around rocky structures looking for their favorite food to come out of dormancy; the crawfish. Keeping most of your casts near or around rocky points and shorelines will certainly increase your chances of an Iowa giant.
Equipment: As anglers we never know what might be on the end of the line, for me that is the mystic and the draw for me. The mystery, will the next bass be a twelve incher, or a twenty incher? With that being said, spring can result in the biggest bass of the year so your rods/reels need to be equipped for that battle. If you are hoping for that fish of a lifetime, your equipment choice needs to start at home. If I am using a slow presentation like a jig or Texas-rigged plastic I am only going to use a 7’6” QuantumPT Med/Heavy rod spooled up with at least 15 pound test line on a high speed QuantumPT reel. That long stout rod will help me set the hook on that monster bass and be able to control it once I have it hooked. Far too often anglers lose fish because of the wrong rod selection for the type of bait they are throwing. Big bass need baits, so longer, heavy action rods are the ones to be using if you are searching for the spring giants. Other popular rod choices for this time of year include a rod made for jerkbaits. Jerkbaits are an awesome tool for finding bass during cold weather times. Large swimbaits catch their fair share of big bass each year, a similar QuantumPT rod as mentioned for jigs will work great for these large baits. When fishing with a jerkbait you need a medium action rod, like the QuantumPT Smoke series. The seven-foot rod with a moderate tip will allow you to cast the light baits, set the hooks and keep them hooked up while fighting the fish. To get the greatest distance while casting a jerkbait, use ten-pound test line.
Lures: During the early spring months, giant bass will eat a variety of lures. As we all know there are hundreds of lures out there and you simply can’t try each one. I have narrowed down my early spring bass choices to 4 different baits. Each have their own use and triggering mechanism for that next giant largemouth. First, a jig and chunk combo. This is probably the most used bait in the springtime by all bass anglers. It is fairly simple to use and it catches big bass. Color should depend on water clarity, and if in doubt, go with black and blue, it is a tried and tested color that seems to work all around the country.
The second rig I always have tied on is a large Texas-rigged plastic. This could be a craw or creature bait, I keep this bait over 5 inches long when fishing in the early spring. The third bait is an Optimum Baits swimbait. There are many choices in this realm of fishing and all different colors. The main key and the most important one is a slow retrieve. Optimum Baits is the perfect choice for this as their baits are tuned to move slowly through the water with natural movements. Again, I keep these baits at minimum of 5 inches long, the bigger the bait, the bigger the bass. Lastly is the jerkbait. Jerkbaits are very popular baits but are often fished too fast. Many baits also are not made to suspend or float slowly to the top. A perfect selection for springtime is the IMA Lures Flit 120. This bait has excellent sound, vibration and goes to depths of 8 feet. It is fantastic for fishing shorelines with rock as it bounces off and slowly rises to tempt those big bass. Those are my 4 lure selections for early springtime bass. As you can tell by lure selection, slow, slow and slow seem to be key to catching big bass this time of year.
The equation sounds simple, find rocky points and shorelines, throw slow baits at them, rig up with the proper rods/reels and catch a giant largemouth. Well, we all know it isn’t quite that simple. However, each spring these techniques will bring you closer to the areas where those big girls are feeding, and hopefully by having the right tool for the job you will be able to hook into a giant and get a picture to last for all time.