Hot Baits: Spawning Bass
1. Z-Man Turbo CrawZ:
Why: Crawfish start to come out of their winter hideouts when the water temps get above 50 degrees, making them the perfect snack for prespawn and bedding bass. Almost every body of water that has bass in it will have crawfish, so just about every angler needs some crawfish patterns to choose from. One of our favorites has become the Z-Man Turbo CrawZ. The porous, elastic material in these baits provides them with buoyancy, durability, and the ability to soak up any scent products added to them, like Pro-Cure. The way they rise up in the water column when rigged perfectly mimics a crawfish in its defense position, making these one of the most realistic baits out there.
Our Favorite: Green Pumpkin, Black/Blue Flake, Pearl
How We Fish Them: We will often take advantage of the awesome claw action these baits provide by using them as a trailer on a jig. The claws vibrate like crazy with the slightest bit of movement, and they provide the jig with added bulk that can help entice a hungry fish. Crawfish are often found in rocky or pebbly areas, so bounce your jig right off the rocks to mimic the real thing- those bass will not be able to resist it when they hear the familiar sound of crawfish scurrying across rocks. Texas rigging one of these crawfish can also work wonders on bass. It can operate like other creature baits when trying to elicit a reaction strike from a bass on a bed. Throw a 1/16oz-1/8oz bullet weight on there and proceed to drag your Turbo CrawZ right through the bed. We like lighter colors that we can see when employing this technique, making for some very cool sight fishing action.
2. Terminator Popping Frog:
Why: Many people don't realize that a topwater frog can be a deadly bait when bass are spawning. However, they can fire a spawning bass up like the typical creature baits that get dragged across the bottom on a daily basis each spring. Spawning bass cannot stand it when something is sitting right over their heads, leading to some massive blowups on the frog. Additionally, many spawning bass will be hanging tight to shallow vegetation and brushy shorelines. The Terminator Frog's hollow body and weedless style make it ideal for pitching into heavy pads, hydrilla, etc.
Our Favorite: Bluegill
How We Fish Them: When there are bedding bass in vegetation, we like to break out our popping frog. Throwing this frog out into the pockets in the vegetation where beds are so often found can get us bites when no other lure seems to work. If a bass doesn't immediately crush your frog, try shaking the rod tip to send those legs into a frenzy without having to move the actual frog forward. Sometimes those bass just need a little extra convincing to strike!
3. Zoom Lizard:
Why: This is probably the number one bait out there for catching spawning bass. We would not be surprised if more spawning bass are caught on Zoom Lizards this year than any other bait out there. The original creature bait, bass will not hesitate to devour a lizard in order to protect a bed and the precious eggs inside. The appendages on these Zoom Lizards move all over the place in the water, making the bait come alive. As if bass needed any more motivation to strike, Zoom went ahead and impregnated these lizards with salt, meaning a bass is not going to be letting go once grabbing on to one of these guys.
Our Favorite: Green Pumpkin, Cotton Candy/Chartreuse, Pumpkin
How We Fish Them: There are many different ways to rig these lizards, from weightless to shaky head to Texas rigged. We have caught a number of spawning bass using each of these styles, but our favorite over the years has been the Carolina rig. Some people scoff at the idea of such a simple rig whereby the lizard floats behind a larger weight that drags the bottom, but this rig is easy to use and effective. Instead of jumping off the bottom like most other rigging methods, a lizard on a Carolina rig will dart side to side in a more natural motion. Depending on the size of weight ahead of the bait, you can fish just about any depth of water, making this one of the more versatile baits out there. And when it comes to leader, in heavy cover we keep it around a foot, but can go as long as 4 feet when fishing in grass.
4. Z-Man StreakZ or Jerk ShadZ:
Why: They may be deadly on smallmouth, but when rigged the right way, largemouth bass have no problem smacking one of these shad patterns from Z-Man. They can be fished similar to a swimbait in order to cover spawning grounds in search of bass that you cannot see. You can even drop shot one on a bed to drive a bass crazy. Many bass will mistake one of these for an incoming bluegill, notorious for pestering bedding bass- just make sure you hold on tight when dragging it across her nose.
Our Favorite: Bluegill, Bad Shad, Motor Oil
How We Fish Them: Drop shotting is not a technique that is often used for bedding bass, but it should be. The whole point is to let it sit right on the edge of a bed till the bass can no longer stand it and strikes the bait in anger. The drop shot is perfect for getting a bait to wiggle right in front of a fish without having to be reeled in. All you have to do is drop it by the bed and slightly move the rod tip without reeling to bring one of these baits to life. Just make sure you beef up your tackle after finessing the drop shot during the colder months. We like to go with 15lb test and slightly heavier hooks built to withstand those large, angry spawning bass.