On the verge of spring bonanza

I think the nation is fixin’ to burst into a heckuva spring fishing season.

Why? Because most of the country is starting to thaw out.

The winters have been mild the past couple of years, and we haven’t had that normal prespawn period like we should have this spring.

Take Michigan, for example. Last year we had 80-degree temps in March. This year, our lakes were still frozen April 1.

In the south, the Alabama rig is dominating tournaments in many southern lakes right now, a period when the fish should be setting up for spawning.

I think the next couple of weeks are going to be nothing short of fabulous. By the time the next full moon hits (April 25), there will be a huge wave of fish pushing into channels and spawning areas.

I think it will happen in the north, too, where, even if the water is still cool, the fish will be moving up and some may even try to spawn.

Bass are grouping between wintering areas and the flats, feeding and starting to think about spawning. This is when you can catch the biggest fish of the year and fill a livewell from one spot.

Study a map for areas that have the largest spawning flats and look for where the fish will access those flats. For example, consider where a major river channel swings close to a bay on a reservoir or drop-offs lying next to a major flat on natural lakes.

That’s where you will find the biggest population of fish. A little pocket may have one or two, but the bigger flats and pockets will have more.

Also, narrow your search to the northerly facing flats; they warm up fastest. On reservoirs, you’ll find shallower and slightly dirtier water that will warm up faster on the upper end.

Water clarity dictates what techniques I will use. If the water is clear, I’ll fish a suspending jerkbait, regardless of whether I’m fishing in Michigan or Missouri. It’s a great way to cover water and generate strikes from big fish.

If the water is stained, I prefer a crankbait because it also allows me to cover water. Bass tend to hold closer to the bottom in dirtier water, so baits that stay close to the bottom work best.

You can slow roll a spinnerbait or drag a jig, but the key is to cover water until you find where the fish are holding.

In stained water, I like to fish a Strike King Series 5 crankbait along the edges of those flats. The fish aren’t going to be deep, but they will likely be schooling close to the edge of flats and this bait allows me to fish that zone.

Rock or grass makes an area even better. I will use a medium retrieve and try to get the bait to deflect off the cover and trigger those reaction strikes.

A Red Eye Shad is another good choice once the fish start to scatter across the flats. You can cover a lot of water with it and fish it at a variety of depths. It’s also a good choice to fish over shallow points leading into spawning bays.

So, get on the water and fish often. Stay with it and you’re going to have a great fishing experience! Remember, it’s all about the attitude!