Early Spring Bass Fishing 101

Early Spring bass fishing can lead to some of the best bass fishing you will experience all year long!

As trees start to bud and the water starts to warm, bass are going to start moving out of the wintering areas and make their way to spawning grounds.

During this time of the year, you truly have the best opportunity to catch the biggest bass of your life! Female bass are full of eggs and weigh the heaviest they will weigh all year long. Not to mention, bass really go on the feed bag right before they head to their spawning areas so catching them can be easy and fun once you find them.

Use the tips below, keep it simple, catch more early spring bass this year, and don’t forget to check out our AWESOME BASS FISHING HATS before you leave!

Defining Early Spring Bass Fishing

Before we get into the meat of this article, let’s define what “early spring” looks like. 

Early spring happens at different times of the year depending on where you live. We will define early spring as the period of time directly before the bass start their spawning rituals. 

In bass fishing terms we consider this period of time, the pre-spawn. Typically this is when water temperatures are between 48 and 65 degrees. However, this is not necessarily a bass fishing law. 

Bass will spawn in different water temperatures across the nation. Smallmouth typically spawn before largemouth and in colder water, such as 55 degrees.

Largemouth can also spawn in water that is colder than 65 and they also will also spawn in 80 degree water temp in warmer parts of the country, like Florida.

With all that being said, if the water is in the 60s, bass will be shallow and could spawn at any time.

How Bass Move In The Early Spring

During the early spring, bass are going to be moving from their wintering areas to their spawning grounds. 

If you are fishing in lakes and reservoirs, one of the best things that you can do before you even get out of the water is to take a topographical lake map and mark areas in which you think bass will winter and the areas in which you will think they spawn. 

This gives you two points to start when you hit the water. If the water temps are in the 60s I am going to start in the spawning areas and work my way out until I find the bass. If the water temps are in the upper 40s or lower 50s, I am going to start in their wintering areas and work towards their spawning grounds.

Depending on what phase of the early spring you are fishing, the bass could be in either of these areas or on their traveling routes in between.

For pond fisherman, scroll down to the last section to see more about early spring bass fishing in ponds.

Lake Wintering Areas for Bass

When locating wintering areas for bass, one of the biggest things to look for on a map is the main river channel and other deeper creek channels. 

Bass are typically going to relate to deeper water during the winter. If you can find pieces of structure, such as points, humps and ledges, that are located close to the main river channel, these are great wintering areas for bass. 

Another great wintering area for bass are main lake bluff walls. Bluff walls are created when the main river channel swings up against the bank of the lake/reservoir you are fishing.

Again, this is an area where the main river channel hits a piece of structure, the structure in this case happens to be the bank. 

Looking at a topographical map, main river channels are typically marked very well so finding these areas isn’t too difficult. However, that doesn’t mean that you are actually going to find bass on every single spot you mark on a map. 

It’s really best to mark several of these areas so that you can be more efficient when you are out on the water. Fishing the areas quickly and moving on if you aren’t catching any bass.

Spawning Areas

Spawning areas can look different depending on where you are fishing in the country but they do share some commonalities. 

Step one is finding protected water, which means look for areas that are protected against nature and its elements. 

A lot of times you will find these areas in small canals, backs of creeks, in small pockets off the main lake, in marinas, etc. A bass doesn’t want to lay its eggs only to have them washed away by the wind, rain or current. So finding protected areas is a must!

Step two is finding shallow water! Bass need sunlight in order to fertilize their eggs so you’re going to find spawning areas in water that is less than 3 feet deep most of the time. On clearer bodies of water where the sunlight penetrates deeper, bass can spawn also spawn deeper. However, most of the time you are going to find their spawning areas in less than 3 feet deep.

Step 3 is finding a hard bottom! Bass need a hard bottom to lay their eggs on. This can be anything from a rocky bottom to a stump or the roots of different vegetation. 

Find The Bass Highway

So now that we have found areas where the bass winter and where they spawn, the next thing you are going want to find is their highway. 

When bass move from one place to another they are typically going to follow some sort of edge. In the same way that deer follow the edge of the woods to move from one place to another, bass are going to follow an edge. This is their highway!

This edge could be made up of a lot of different things. It could be an edge of vegetation, an underwater ledge or ridge, a small creek channel or ditch, an actual underwater roadbed, etc.

Bass will use this “highway” as they move in and out of from their wintering areas, to their spawning areas, and back out to their summer areas. However, along this highway they are going to make pit stops at places we call “staging areas”

Staging Areas For Bass

Bass will often make a big movement to their spawning areas quicker than we think, However, bass don’t know what the weather forecast is. So they will typically stop on staging areas before they go up and spawn while they wait for the weather and water to stabilize.

These areas, at times, can contain a ton of bass. Sometimes you can really find a huge school of bass in a small area waiting for the conditions to set up for them to spawn.

A staging area is going to look different on different bodies of water. Typically though, this is the last spot the bass are going to congregate in before they go up to spawn. 

Secondary points towards the back of creeks are great staging areas. Also the last section of deep water close to a spawning area is also a great place to look. This could be the last creek channel swing before the pocket flattens out in the back.

Staging areas can also be objects such as docks, rocks, and wood cover towards the back of creeks where bass can stay protected before they head up to their beds.

In natural lakes, such as in Florida, bass will often stage on offshore grass clumps just outside their main spawning flats. These types of areas are tournament winning spots.

Early Spring Bass Lures

When it comes to lure selection in the early spring, it is best to keep things simple. Bass can be fairly aggressive during this time of the year and they will definitely hit a moving bait often.

In dirty or muddy water I am typically going to use a square-bill crankbait and a spinnerbait with colorado blades. These lures provide a lot of vibration and water displacement so that pre-spawn bass can track them down easily. When it comes to color I am going to keep it simple as well. 

For crankbaits I am going to use either red or crawfish color and for a spinnerbaits I am going to use chartreuse/white.

In clear water situations, I’m typically going to use a jerkbait and a silent crankbait that dives 6-8ft. My jerkbait is going to be a natural shad color and my crankbait is going to be a natural crawfish color, like a ghost green. KEEP IT SIMPLE.

The key is to not overcomplicate lure selection. Bass are just coming out of deep water during this time of year and they are looking for a meal before they make their nest in shallow water so they are going to hit the above options really well.

The key is to cover a lot of water until you find groups of fish and staging areas where the bass are. Once you find these areas you can slow down with other lures like carolina rigs and jigs and find out exactly what the bass are wanting.

Biggest Schools Of The Year

One of the most exciting things about fishing in the pre-spawn time frame is that you can come across some of the biggest schools of bass that you will ever find. 

A lot of us think about catching schooling fish in the summer and fall times. However, when fish come up and stage to spawn they are aggressive, they are hungry and you can catch them fairly easily once you find them. 

Keeping that in the back of your mind when you are looking for these areas can be great motivation when you have gone a couple of hours and still haven’t caught a bass.

All it takes is one cast and you could find the mother load of bass.

Early Spring Bass Fishing – Ponds

Bass fishing in ponds in the early spring can also be one of the best times to catch big bass that are just moving up out of deep water. 

I typically deploy the same technique to finding pre-spawn bass in big lakes as I do with ponds. I want to know where the wintering areas are and where the spawning areas are. 

Bass Wintering Areas in Ponds

Most of the time wintering areas in ponds are the deepest sections of the pond. It’s important to know that “deep” is a relative term when it comes to pond fishing.

Some ponds may only be 5-6 foot in the deepest section and other ponds may be 12-15 ft in the deepest sections. 

Finding these deeper holes on a pond can be done without electronics. If you simply just cast a weight around, and count how long it takes to hit the bottom. The longer it takes, the deeper it is! You will be able to find the deepest sections of a pond fairly quickly.

Spawning Areas In Ponds

In most ponds, bass are able to spawn almost around the entire border of the pond. It’s important to note that bass need a hard bottom in order to lay their eggs though. 

Many ponds are lined with small rocks, clay and sand banks, making the entire circumference a spawning ground. 

In ponds that have a mucky bottom, bass will use hard objects to lay their eggs on, like stumps, lay down logs, random rocks or bricks, cattail roots, etc. 

Ponds that have these pieces of cover close to those deep holes are going to be the places bass pull up on first. 

Since a pond is much smaller than a lake, and warms up much faster, bass are going to move to shallow water a lot quicker than they will in a lake.

Targeting these areas with spinnerbait and vibrating jigs are my number one way to catch early spring bass in ponds.

Use the techniques above to catch more bass in the early spring.

Also, don’t forget to check out our shop to see the most awesome bass fishing hat you have ever seen!