Typically, anglers would be thrilled to get any bite at any time. But things change during the month of April. Bass have been actively feeding for the last month or so ? growing to tremendous sizes and moving into shallow water, allowing anglers to move in on their springtime haunts. Professional anglers, myself included, don't waste our time looking for small fish on the beds. We go big or we go home.
In April, pretty much wherever you are in the country you've got fish in all three stages of the spawn: late Pre Spawn, spawn and early Post Spawn. Summertime patterns haven't kicked in quite yet, so hold off throwing those worms. When I gun for these big females, I head to the most secluded spot on a lake. This could be the back of creeks, hard-bottom flats or secluded stump fields. Beds are easy to locate: they look like a wallow made by a big pig around a watering hole. During this time of year, it is vital to pack the polarized sunglasses and a lunch. Trust me, the lunch will come in handy because the big bite is hot and leaving is not an option.
The area that I fish the most during this time of year is a shallow-lying stump field. You can catch bass around any type of cover in April, whether it is big rocks, laydowns or secluded stumps. But, shallow-lying stump fields offer great cover for bedding fish, and the floor around these fields makes them ideal for fish to make their nests. Plus, I can maneuver my boat through the field so I can make short pitches across each stump. I like to keep my boat at least 10-15 feet away from the bedding area.
Finding the stump fields is not difficult. It takes a keen eye and a little help from your electronics, but other than that you are on your way. Making shorter casts with creature baits is an effective measure to capitalize on the protective nature of spawning bass.
By far, my go-to bait during this month is the Berkley ® PowerBait ® Crazy Legs Chigger Craw. Most anglers will go with big tubes or those mega-worm baits, but I mix it up for a different look. You can never go wrong on cloudy waters by throwing a black with black fleck craw, and on those clear waters I throw a green pumpkin party craw at them.
Crazy Legs Chigger Craws are great for fishing any type of cover. These baits have a different action to them, which is perfect when the only thing they usually see is a giant tube. Plus, they are laced with PowerBait scent, which causes the bass to hang on longer, resulting in more positive hooksets.
When pitching this jig around a stump, work the entire stump. It doesn't matter what the day is like; I work the front, back, left side and right side of each stump. I like to scale it down with a weighted 3/8-ounce, 4/0 wide-gap hook, tied with a Palomar knot. I like a good heavy line like 65-pound Spiderwire ® Ultracast ® because I am fishing in and around abrasive surfaces. Using the lighter weight allows you to keep the craw in the strike zone longer. Plus, lighter terminal tackle gives me the opportunity to pitch the craw closer to the beds with a quiet entry to the water.
The rest of my setup is pretty straightforward. I use a 7-foot, 6-inch medium-heavy All Star ® rod and an Abu Garcia ® Skeet Reese REVO ® left-hand reel. That's right, I use a left-hand model, even though I am right-handed. Using a left-hand reel, I can make more casts, which increases my efficiency on the water. This reel has a 6.4:1 retrieve ratio, which is excellent for handling Spiderwire. I fish that Crazy Legs Chigger Craw like I do a Texas rig: cast it toward one of the many stumps or beds and let it fall to the bottom. If nothing gets it on the way down, I pick it up and shake it a little and let it free-fall back to the bottom; pick it up and move it a little and repeat the process. I like to vary my retrieval pattern and make a mental note of the pattern I was using when the big girls come out to play.
April is the time of year when records fall and giants are found shallow. However, it is also not the time to be sitting around waiting on the bite to come to you. Get in close for some spawn action and let your Crazy Legs do the talking.