Angler Education

Lighter Side of Big Spawn

As each spring season rolls around, I hear talk that April is the time to go to big baits and big tackle to hoist large female bass out of the water from their spawning haunts. If you know my style, it is anything but conventional. I like to mix up things and go against the grain. Instead of all these me-too baits, I look to throw something different during the spawning season dangerously light equipment.

Sure, lighter equipment is nothing new when anglers need a subtle approach, but name five people you know who carry a light-weight setup to go catch big spawners? Most of the guys I know are breaking out the monstrous tubes, heavy rods and big hooks to fish this time of year. These are also the same guys who spend hours sightfishing one fish and to me that's not right.

I like to burn through water during this time of year with light spinning tackle. To me, this makes perfect sense because there are spawning fish everywhere. You may see a single big fish, but trust me, right around the bend in another rough outcropping there is another big female waiting to jump your bait.

Targeting the shallows is the deal during April. Find areas that have traditionally held spawning fish or just look at small pockets of grass, gravel flats, the back of boat docks or any shallow
laydowns. These areas will hold a bunch of fish waiting to scarf down the offering. I like to use heavy worm baits, like the Berkley Heavy Weights SinkWorm, for thislighter approach. Heavy worm baits serve a few purposes: They offer a unique fall that fish can't resist, and they are far more durable than traditional worms, which will come in handy when encountering many strikes. Wacky rigging the SinkWorm on a 1/0 octopus-type hook is my preferred method, but if you are fishing a ton of structure, you could get by Texasrigging the weighted bait. The only weight of this setup is the worm itself. If needed, slide on a 1/32-ounce weight to get the worm to the bottom more quickly.

A 3000 series Abu Garcia Soron STX reel spooled with 8-pound fluorocarbon is perfect on a 6-foot, 6-inch medium action rod. The STX reel is excellent for handling fluorocarbon line. Fishing fast is
the name of the game when I am using lightweight gear. Once I cast my bait out to its destination, if nothing gets it on the way down, I reel back in and repeat the process.

Line selection is key when fishing for bedded fish. Spawning bass are far more aware of their surroundings and can detect the slightest discrepancy. Fluorocarbon lines are as clear as it gets, and Trilene 100% Fluorocarbon line is what I prefer. The extreme abrasion resistance and lack of line memory really pay off when spending a day on the water catching spawners.When it comes to selecting lure colors, I always fish lurecolors based on where I am, but in April I usually throw something like Watermelon or Green Pumpkin. Early in the year I like black, but in April I prefer green shades.

Speaking of shades, the type of polarized lenses you choose will greatly affect the outcome of your fishing trip. April is the month of all months to rely on eyewear. There is a bunch of lens colors that have their own purpose, but I stick with a few basic principles. If the weather presents a bluebird day I like to go with gray lenses. On a cloudy day or early morning hours, I roll with a green or brown lens, and those days when the water is extra dingy, I break out the yellow lenses to help bring outthe bass' shade of green.

Keep it light this spring while searching for spawning bass, and cover as much water as possible. Throwing something just different enough will be the ticket that offsets the big baits and puts more fish in the boat.