The Prespawn Bass Breakfast Bash

When the bass head for the shallows, it’s time for you to get up off the couch.
 
Like many of us, big bass get awful lazy during the winter. Unlike most of us, they have enough sense to stop eating a lot when they’re pretty much immobile and not getting very much exercise. But when it’s time to get up and move about again in early spring, those bass sure are hungry. For most of the bass I’ve run across, that early spring wake up comes just before the spawn, and as the bass start moving toward shallower water, they suddenly realize it’s been a really long time since they’ve had a good meal. It’s the perfect opportunity for some great fishing, and most anglers call it the prespawn. As a bass fisherman, it’s your job to help those bass find something that appears to be a good meal and then get them in the boat before they have a chance to digest it.
 
Finding the Fish
 
But first you have to figure out when the fish are going to leave the deep water where they’ve been waiting out the winter and where you might be able to intercept them as they travel back and forth to the shallows to feed. In most lakes the prespawn begins when the water temperature rises above 50°F or so. In terms of where you might find them, the key lies in locating the path the bass follow when moving from the deep to the shallows. There will be stopping off points along the way, frequently at the edge of a drop off and often where there are structures or debris on the bottom. Tree stumps, rock piles and even old fence posts seem to spell dinner for prespawn bass.
 
Gather up Your Gear
 
You’re going to want a good durable rod and reel, and Dunham’s offers a large selection. The Ugly Stik GX2 combo is always a good choice as are the Abu Garcia Max series bait cast combos and reels. I like to wind some tough-as-nails Spider wire line.
 
What kind of dinner entrée should you offer to the hungry bass? Dunham’s has a lot of choices on the menu. A slow-moving worm or jig is just fine for just about any half awake and slow-moving bass. If you’re using artificial worms, treat them with some scent. A slow retrieve on a good spinner like the Strike King Mini-King or Mepps Aglia Spinner works really well for many bass fishermen. But I wouldn’t hesitate to tie on a crank bait either, although I’d fish it slower than I would in warm weather. Many fishermen report excellent success with Rapala Husky Jerk and Shad Rap crank baits. Shad Rap closely resembles baitfish found nearly everywhere. The KVD Square Bill crank baits from Strike King are another good choice. Crank baits can run deep in those drop offs you’ll find right before the shallows. Slowly bounce them off some underwater structures, and the bass will move in for a meal.
 
If you don’t get any strikes in 20 minutes or so, move on to another good-looking spot. The fish are going to be schooled somewhere between the deep and the shallows but likely more toward the shallows. Your job is to find them. They most definitely aren’t out looking for you.
 
Try to Stay Warm
 
Fishermen in the Midwest and North Central states will probably be fishing for prespawn bass long before it’s pleasant outside. In fact, it might be pretty darn cold, even after the water temperature has reached 50°F. And once you’re out on the lake, it’s going to be too late to put on another layer of clothes. You can always take something off.
 
A snowmobile suit is a good hedge against old man winter’s last gasp. Ski outfits are pretty darn warm as well. If you don’t want to spend that much of your gear money on clothes, do like some of us did back in the day: wear two pairs of pants and two shirts, plus that winter jacket or parka. Don’t forget some good flexible gloves and a warm hat as well.
 
While some anglers are going to wait for warm weather to get out on the lake, those folks are going to miss some of the best fishing of the season. Get up out of that winter easy chair, head out on the lake and treat a lunker bass to breakfast.
 
-Hook, Line & Sinker
 
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Tempting Mr. Bass

The right equipment and correct technique can help you land a lunker.
 
I caught my first bass in 1967 while fishing for northern pike on Canada’s Lake of the Woods. On a slow morning I tossed a daredevil out toward a weed bed and a big fish grabbed it and ran. At last, a good-sized pike, I thought. The fish fought hard, broke water, and I saw a flash of gold. It wasn’t a northern pike. It was a muscle-bound bass, and both he and I were hooked.
 
I’m a casual Michigan fisherman now, but our waters are chock full of bass, smallmouth and largemouth. Over the years I’ve learned that even a rank amateur like me can catch fish using the right equipment.
 
Dunham’s is the right place to find the right equipment. I learned that soon after moving to the mitten. And their sales consultants can help you choose gear that works.
 
I grew up with baitcasting reels and love the Shimano Caenan and Citica reels wound with Seaguar Fluorocarbon line, which is invisible underwater. With fast retrieve, either reel is great for bass, which often strike rapidly moving baits. They don’t like to see a meal escape. Dunham’s offers numerous spinning reels as well. Either style reel is well suited to bass fishing. It’s a matter of what you’re comfortable with.
 
Jim Burrows of Pure Fishing tells us that Shakespeare® has a new Ugly Stik® GX2™ rod for 2014. With Ugly Tech Construction, it’s warranteed for seven years. “No doubt this will be the winner for the upcoming 2014 fishing season,” says Jim.
 
Two excellent bass baits that work well with a rapid retrieve are the Rapalo Rippin Rap and the deep-diving DT Series crankbaits. They run below the surface and are favored by tournament pros. Toss them with a light- or medium-action rod of about 7-foot length.
 
A correct drag setting is important. Too much resistance is an invitation for Mr. Bass to break the line and head south. You can adjust drag by tying on a weight that’s half the rating of your line. If your reel is wound with eight-pound test, a four-pound weight should be able to overcome the drag setting and pull line off your reel. That will allow a hooked fish to make a run but will wear him down.
 
Let’s not forget worm fishing. When I was a wee lad fishing with dad, I’d grow impatient and wiggle the rod tip. Dad would tell me to sit still, but that doodling would often produce a bite.
 
Doodling is what they call it today. It’s a worm fishing tactic practiced by some of the best bass fishermen. With a 4 – to 5-inch plastic worm on an Eagle Claw Lazer Wide Gap Worm Hook, wiggle the rod tip for a few seconds, then relax for 30 seconds. If there’s a bass in the neighborhood, he’ll probably take the bait.
 
-Hook, Line & Sinker
 
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