Everyone knows the prespawn is a time to catch big fish.
Bass can be easy to pattern when the weather is stable this time of year, but they can be tricky to figure out during changing conditions because they make fast location changes.
The first step is to determine where they winter and where they go to spawn, then spend time searching between those areas.
Power fishing with spinnerbaits, crankbaits and jerkbaits can be very effective for locating prespawn bass, but a jig can be just as efficient when warranted.
In fact, I use jigs often during the early prespawn because it's such a great big bass catcher.
Water clarity helps me determine what to use. Lures that are bulky or that vibrate and displace water are my first choices in dirty water, while more natural baits with sight appeal get the nod in clear water.
Cover also plays a role in bait selection, as I choose the lure that allows me to best present the bait effectively.
Of course, water temperature and weather determines the fish’s level of activity. If it’s warming and there’s some wind, they’ll be more aggressive, so I use fast movers. If there are bright conditions and not much wind, the fish will relate to the bottom cover and that’s where a vertical presentation is a better choice.
A slow-rolled spinnerbait may cover a bigger area, but if the strike zone is small, much of the cast is wasted. A properly placed jig is more efficient under those conditions.
There’s not a wrong way to fish it; you can swim it, skip it, drag it or hop it. It’s also a natural presentation, whether the fish are targeting crawfish —their primary forage this time of year —bluegill or shad.
If the water is more stained and I’m fishing thick cover, I use a bulkier jig-and-trailer with a rattle. I'll determine the weight of the jig and type of trailer based upon conditions and how I want it to fall. If the water is cold, I want it falling slower; if warming, I want a faster falling and more erratic jig, which is determined by the size and type of trailer.
Now if the water is clear and the bass tight to cover, I’ll go to a compact jig that’s heavier because it gets down to the bottom quicker and fish don’t get a good look at it during the descent. I trim the skirt, use a smaller trailer and use natural colors.
If the water is clear and warming, I want to fish faster and off the bottom. That’s when I like a bluegill-colored swim jig with a Rage Tail Grub (in a natural color) and fish it similar to a spinnerbait. It’s a technique I love using later in the prespawn when the bass start moving onto the spawning flats, especially on a sunny afternoon.
Regardless of whether I’m fishing a jig on bottom or horizontally, I still cover water quickly, concentrating only on the best looking sections of points, pockets, sides of points, channel swings and flats.
Once I determine precisely where the fish are located on those structures, I only hit high percentage spots, just as I do with faster moving baits.
So, remember, you don’t need horizontal running lures to power fish. Pick up a jig, fish it efficiently, and you’re going to catch quality bass.