As the water temperature begins to rise in early spring, we all know, or should know, that early spring smallmouth bass will begin their migration to shallow water. Therefore, our presentation techniques should be adjusted to suit these conditions. So, watcha gonna do? Live bait or jigs? Not necessarily! Let’s discuss what you can do to put the odds in your favor.
What we need during this time of the year is a quick and efficient way to find the holding spots, and, at times, these holding spots can be very subtle. Sure, you can cast the entire shallow areas. But, some smallmouth lakes are so big that you could cast until your arm falls off before locating any fish. So, what can you do to eliminate water and, ultimately, find the fish quickly?
Troll. Yep, that’s right, trolling is a great way to eliminate water and locate fish quickly. Tie on a small crankbait that runs 3 to 7 feet deep and fire up the outboard. Any good crankbait will do as long as it is small. Smallmouth bass show a desired preference for smaller lures during early spring. Cast a small crankbait out behind the boat, let out some line, and begin trolling. Try to maintain a consistent depth level as you move along and try to bump the bottom with your lure.
If your lure is digging too hard on the bottom then you are too shallow. If this is the case, then move towards deeper water until you lose contact with the bottom. Then head back towards shallow water until you make contact with the bottom again. Keep an eye on your depth finder, and you should begin to notice things such as rocks and/or weeds ending at a certain depth or a change in bottom composition. These are the subtle features that we are looking for that will hold smallmouth bass in early spring.
If this depth zone is not productive then tie on a deeper running crankbait that will run 7 to 10 feet deep and repeat this process in deeper water. Once you make contact with a concentration of fish, whether it be shallow or a bit deeper, take note of the depth and the features of the structure where contact was made, cut the motor off, and start casting. If the crankbait does not remain productive then go to live bait, a jig, or a tube bait, and offer the fish a slower presentation. If the action stops or slows down, duplicate the pattern in areas that are similar or have the same features.
Trolling is a great way to eliminate water and find productive areas quickly. If you have never tried trolling for early spring smallmouth, or you are skeptical, I would recommend giving it a try, especially, if you a struggling to get a bite. It just might put the odds in your favor. Give it a try.