Catching smallmouth bass in ice-cold winter patterns is a tough chore as these guys seem to go comatose during the winter season. However, as spring approaches, smallmouth will begin to sense the changing sun angle and warming water temperatures. They start to resurrect themselves from their winter slumber and start shifting their bodies and moving. Smallmouth bass fishing in early spring is all about how, when, and where to locate the fish.
At the end of winter, smallies may still be reluctant to move shallow. As the water temperature nears the mid 40’s most smallies will remain in deep water, but will begin moving towards shallow water without making much of a depth change. They will follow off shore drop-off contours and move to where the deep water is closest to the shore. Look for inside turns along the break that are close to shore during this time and focus your efforts there. Smallmouth bass holding in these area’s can be coaxed into biting, however, the water is still cold and deep so stick to slow, subtle baits and dangle them in front of the fish.
As the water temperature approaches the high 40’s to low 50’s, the fish will sporadically begin to move into shallower water between 6 and 10 feet deep. Fish will move in a few at a time and start cruising the shallow flats in search of an easy meal. Look for sand and rocks. Crayfish will begin spawning during this time of the year and we all know that crayfish are like candy to a smallmouth. Tube jigs or any crayfish imitating lures dragged on the bottom will work during this time.
When the water temperature gets into the mid 50’s smallmouth bass start to become very aggressive. Most all of the fish will be in shallow water at this time and will be actively pursuing forage and looking for spawning area’s. Focus your efforts on water that is 3 to 6 feet deep. This is the time when smallmouth bass fishing can be phenomenal. Minnow imitating jerkbaits, crankbaits, and jigs, as well as crayfish imitating jigs will all work well during this time.
Early spring is a great time to get out and do some smallmouth bass fishing. However, it is not always easy to catch up with them in this season. Observation, patience and experimentation are required to learn how, when, and where to locate and catch smallies in early spring. Once you figure this out, you could be in for a bronzeback bonanza.