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Sinfully Simple

By Mark Romanack

In the spring bass can be sinfully simple to catch
by simply casting spinnerbaits from shore, piers,
while wading or from a boat cruising along the bank.
Few things associated with bass fishing are simple. Every popular fishing presentation seemingly has a dozen different lure brands, rods, reels and line combinations to consider. Digesting and applying all this information can literally take the fun out of fishing.

Fortunately, not all forms of fishing are complex or difficult to master. During May and June when the water is cool and fish favor the shallows, one simple lure and and even simpler presentation tops all other bass fishing techniques. This unique combination of lure and presentation is so deadly you can catch fish from a boat, casting from shore, wading the shallows or bobbing along in a float tube.

The common spinnerbait is not only an effective spring time lure, it’s about as easy to fish as anything equipped with a hook. Cast it to targets above and below the water and reel it back slowly. You can get fancy with the retrieve, but most of the time a slow and steady retrieve that brings the lure near good cover will trigger the most strikes.

Casting a spinnerbait is a contact sport. To really get the most from these lures you have to keep them in close contact with stumps, logs, sunken brush, decaying vegetation, rocks, dock legs or anything else in the water that allows bass a little cover to hide behind.

In the spring both smallmouth and largemouth bass are dependent upon shallow water for both spawning and feeding. It’s here that the ice melts first and it’s here that the chain of life awakens each spring. Warming water triggers an explosion of plankton, which in turn attracts minnows which in turn attract bass. It’s that simple. The best spring fishing spots for bass are shallow water areas, especially those that feature a dark, soft, organic bottom with plenty of dead and decaying vegetation. Dark bottom areas absorb solar radiation, warming the water quickly and literally jump starting the food chain into movement.

Back bays, coves, boat cuts and marinas are just some of the protected places that a dark bottom and shallow water spell out bass fishing heaven. Small ponds are also a great place to find bass action when the water is still cool.

Working emerging weed edges in the spring with
a spinnerbait is one of the best ways to cover water
and contact both largemouth and smallmouth bass.
Ironically, it’s the north shore of most lakes that awaken first. Sun exposure helps to warm up the water along the north shore days and even weeks before the south shore warms up. Prevailing winds from the north and west also work to prevent cold main lake water from mixing with the rapidly warming water on the north shore.

A spinnerbait can be fished with virtually any rod and reel combination, but a medium heavy spinning outfit loaded with 10-12 pound test monofilament line is ideal for casting small to medium sized spinnerbaits. Just about anyone can master a spinning outfit with minimal practice. Spinning outfits also allow for long casts that help to cover water and avoid spooking fish.

A seven foot baitcasting outfit is also a good choice for spinnerbait fishing. Baitcasting gear requires a little practice to master, but the rewards are many. Baitcasting gear provides the angler more power to leverage fish from cover and also to fish larger line sizes. The best line sizes to match up with baitcasting gear range from 12-17 pound test.

The advantages of using baitcasting gear is worth the effort it requires to master these reels. When starting out learning to use  baitcasting reels, spool up with a large line size that will be easier to untangle should a backlash occur.

Spinnerbaits come in a wide variety of colors, sizes, skirt types and blade configurations. Small to medium sized baits (1/4 to 3/8 ounce) are the most productive in the spring time. When fishing over the top of vegetation or brush, a Colorado style blade tends to run closer to the surface. For reaching a little deeper, the willow style blades work well.

In the spring keep things simple and stick with single chrome blade models. Silver colored blades work good on bright clear days and in clear water. Copper or brass  blades tend to produce best in murky water or when fishing in cloudy conditions. A little color in the water favors the use of spinnerbaits, but these amazing lures will catch fish in either clear or dirty water.

The skirt color on spinnerbaits can also make a difference. White is always a good early spring spinnerbait color, but yellow/blue, black, yellow/white and blue/white are all common colors to have close at hand.

Usually color is less important than how close the bait is positioned to fish holding cover. Remember, spinnerbait fishing is contact fishing.

In May and June when the water is just warming up, spinnerbaits are
sinfully simple to fish and deadly effective on
smallmouth and largemouth bass.
Spinnerbaits can easily get bent when fighting a fish or if the lure snags. Like a crankbait, a spinnerbait should pull straight in the water with the blade rotating smoothly. If the bait tilts on its side as it runs through the water, the wire will need to be bent slightly to tune the lure.

Begin by tying the line directly to the spinnerbait and make a test cast. If the lure doesn’t ride upright in the water, bend the wire slightly in the opposite direction the bait is leaning. A spinnerbait will usually come out of the package ready to fish, but a little tweaking is going to be required to keep these lures riding straight and true.

The most important points to remember when fishing spring bass with spinnerbaits is to target protected dark bottom areas where the water is a little warmer. Most of the fish are going to be relating to some type of cover. Triggering strikes with a spinnerbait boils down to keeping these lures as close to cover as possible.

Slightly stained waters are ideal for spinnerbait fishing. Make long casts and stick with a slow and steady retrieve. Follow these simple rules and the bass will respond. Spinnerbaiting for spring bass is one of those fishing presentations that’s sinfully simple. Enjoy.