Spring Bass Fishing 101

By Todd Reed

Each March and early April around the state of Iowa people start to focus their thoughts on catching that first bass of the year. Spring is an excellent time of year to target bass around Iowa and most likely you will catch your biggest bass of the whole year in one of these two months. This month we will focus on where to look when targeting early spring bass, the best baits to throw at them and how to make sure your tackle is ready for the upcoming season.

Largemouth bass are one of the most popular fish to catch here in Iowa, and for good reasons. They can grow to sizes of over five pounds in public waters and private ponds. They will attack artificial baits and make a bobber disappear faster than any other fish can. Another reason people love to chase the largemouth bass is because of the fact that once you catch one, more are sure to come. However, before you catch that first one, you have to really think about the season and where the fish should be living and feeding on a daily basis. In the early spring, weather is the biggest factor and with the fronts that move through Iowa in March and April; they will make a huge impact on bass fishing. To keep things simple, there are two kinds of weather patterns during the early spring in Iowa, good weather and bad weather. The bad weather would include those cloudy, cold-front days that seem to pop up frequently. The nicer weather in spring are the warm, sunny days with mild breezes. These weather patterns will determine where the bass are during the early spring.

Good weather: Spring is full of ups and downs, especially with the weather. When the weather is mild and temps are on the rise for a few days the bass take note. These types of days warm the lake/river waters and tell the bass to feed up. During these nicer days the shallow water will warm quickly and give a boost to that ecosystem. The micro-organisms, bugs, bait fish, and even crawdads when water temps reach into the fifties will come alive. This boost to the ecosystem gives life to river backwaters and shallow coves in our lakes. These days should tell you to focus your efforts on shallow water, as that is where the bass will be feeding. Another key area is around any rocky banks. The rocks will soak up that sunlight and warm the water near it, again boosting the ecosystem and letting the bass eat.

Bad weather: Cloudy, overcast cold-front days are part of spring too. These days when the water is cooling and you may never actually see the sun are the days when you must make adjustments to your locations to catch bass. Bass have a tendency to leave those shallow areas and swim to the nearest deep water, which will hold its temperature much longer. The bass is a cold-blooded creature and does not like a rapid change in water temperature, so it will swim in hopes of finding warmer water, thus the change to deeper areas. The areas you should look for should be close to those shallow coves and backwaters because the bass and all the bait do not want to travel long distances if they don’t have to. Deep banks, channel swings, and dams make for great areas to look for bass when the coldest of spring weather happens.

Now that we have some general locations to focus in on, what baits are the best? If you are a live bait angler then a nightcrawler or large minnow under a bobber can be very enticing in the spring. Artificial baits have countless looks and varieties to choose from. There are a few that I turn to in the early spring. To put it simply, a jig and plastic chunk will catch more bass time and time again than any other lure during this time of year. You must give it a try if you haven’t. The key to this bait, especially on those cold-front days is to work it slow, and then slow down some more. The slower you move this bait and any other slow moving bait the better the chance you have of catching bass in the early spring. Two other baits that work very well in the early spring are a spinnerbait and a jerkbait. These two baits can be worked very quickly on those warm sunny days to pick off bass chasing bait fish in the shallows. Some days the bass will practically rip the rod right out of your hand with their vicious strikes. Whether it is a warm spring day or a cold and miserable one, these three baits tend to catch the most bass every spring around this fine state.

Hopefully by the time you read this article you have already done the following spring chores with your rods and reels. If not, it isn’t too late, and might help you land that monster bass the next time out. Here are few things to get your equipment in top-notch shape for the early bass season:

• New line- every reel needs new line each year, a small investment for that catch of a lifetime.

• Rod Inspection- take cotton balls or Q-tips and run them around all the guides to see if there are any irregularities that could damage your line, fix any that you find.

• Reel Lubrication- there are countless moving parts on your reels, properly placed grease and reel oil will have you casting like you never have before (check manufactures website for proper lubrication or YouTube videos).

• Inventory- take a look over your tackle and artificial baits and restock anything that you might need for the season.

I hope you can apply a few of these tips and knowledge about spring time bass this coming month to land your share of fish. Remember, check your lakes/river laws about bass, as many lakes have special length limits on largemouth/smallmouth bass. If you do catch a giant please consider CPR…Catch…Photo…Release for the upcoming spawning season and for others to enjoy the fight of ferocious Iowa bass.