Shallow water has never been my favorite place to catch bass, but in April in the Carolinas, you are almost sure to be casting into skinny water if you want to catch many fish.
April is the spawning month across most of this area, and even if you are fishing a lake with stained water where you really can’t see bass on shoreline beds, you’ve still got to change the way you fish and accept the fact that the spawn changes the way fish think and act.
We have a lot of lakes in the Carolinas where you can’t see fish on the beds, and on those lakes, I’m going to try to find bass that are still in a prespawn mode or fish that have finished spawning and come off the beds. I like to look three different places: on the corners going into and out of pockets, halfway back in pockets and all the way back.
The first bass that spawn will usually spawn out toward the mouths of the creeks, toward the main lake. The last fish to spawn will be those in pockets way back in the creeks.
One of the hottest lures around for fish that are shallow, especially on the bed, is a little swimming jig. You can swim that jig up to a bass bed and drop it in, and she’ll hit it right away. They’ll react to it as soon as you drop it in the bed.
A couple of soft-plastic baits I like to fish are a little swimming worm like a 6-inch Havoc ribbontail worm, a little trick worm like a Havoc Bottom Bumper or a stick worm like a Senko. I like to fish them on a 1/16-ounce worm weight, throw them out and reel them in slowly. A worm like that will do a good job of attracting fish to bite.
Depending on the weather in April, you can catch prespawn or post-spawn bass on a jerkbait like a Berkley Cutter, a lipless bait like a Warpig or a little square-bill crankbait like a Square Bull. A lot of baits can work in April, and a lot do or don’t work, depending on the circumstances. One bait I’ve had success using when the water is stained is a single-blade spinnerbait, about a 1/8- or 1/4-ounce bait with a short shaft and a No. 4 or No. 5 Indiana blade.
You can fish just about anything as long as you’re fishing shallow. There’s not much you can eliminate before you get out there. You need to figure where they are and what stage of the spawn they’re in — and that can change daily.
My best catches come when I can find bass staging on the corners of pockets. You can catch fish that are holding, waiting for conditions to change before they really move in to spawn, or you can catch them after they’ve spawned, because they’ll hold on the same places going out.
I like smaller baits in darker colors when bass get close to the spawn. I love grape, black, purple and junebug for soft-plastics, and you can never go wrong with green pumpkin. Berkley has a grape color that is really, truly grape — not the grape that’s really close to junebug, but a real grape.