Bass are in every stage of the spawn, and biting a variety of lures
I love bass fishing in February and March because I think those are the two best months to catch a truly big fish. But I love April, because here in the Carolinas, you can catch so many bass so many different ways. It is the one month when you can typically find fish in all three stages of the spawn.
You can target fish in prespawn, fish that are on the beds that you can sight-fish, and also post-spawn fish. You pick which fish you want to fish for, the section of lake you like to fish, and you fish the way you want.
If you are fishing a tournament, prespawn and spawning fish are what you are looking for. That’s because they are typically going to weigh more. But fishing for post-spawn fish is a lot of fun. And when I’m out just fun-fishing, those are the fish that I’ll very often choose to target.
For one thing, you’re catching them on topwater hard baits, floating worms, those kinds of baits. And most people know I love to topwater fish. I’ll target post-spawn fish with topwaters like poppers, prop baits like an X-Prop or floating frogs – popping and walking frogs. A lot of fish are guarding fry, and the fry are going to be within a couple of inches of the surface.
Take your pick
When you set out to choose how you plan to fish this month, and which fish you target, the section of lake you’re fishing will typically determine which fish you fish for. The lower end of a lake, and the north side of that end, is the place where you’ll see your first spawning fish, and the first ones that are finished and have moved to a post-spawn pattern. The middle of the lake, you have a better chance of finding fish on the beds, and in the upper end, that’s where you’ll have more prespawn fish, because the water is cooler coming into that part of the lake and the spawn is later.
If I am putting in on the lower end and want to fish there, I’ll be looking for post-spawn fish, because a lot of fish will have already spawned sometime in April. They’ll still be in the creeks, in the backs of the creeks. Water clarity will dictate, to some extent, where the fry go and where the bass protecting the fry go. The fry will usually stay in the backs of the creeks until they get some age. I like topwaters like poppers and prob baits; and I like to fish a Senko weightless at the surface or on a light Texas rig, maybe ⅛- or 1/16-ounce. I use a green pumpkin Senko most of the time. But in post spawn, I will go with green and purple flake, even white. Fish get so protective of the fry, so aggressive, that a bright color will sometimes get them to hit a bait.
Cover lots of water
If I am putting in on the upper end of a lake, or fishing a tournament, I’m going to want to fish for prespawn fish, the ones that are staging, looking and waiting for conditions to be right for them to head to the bank. Targeting prespawn fish, I want to cover a lot of water. I like to fish crankbaits, a Rapala DT-6 or DT-8, in crawfish colors: reds, oranges and yellows.
Clear water is key
In a lot of our lakes in the Carolinas, some fish won’t spawn until May. I’m going to fish the upper end, stay on the main river where creek channels swing close to shallow water. When the fish make their move, they’re going to be close to the place they’re going to spawn. They won’t be far from creeks. A lot of them are going to spawn in short pockets, close to where the river swings close – short pockets with deep-water access.
If I want to fish for spawning bass, I’m going to be around the mid-lake area, and the thing I look for is clear water. If you’re fishing in stained water, you can’t see fish on the beds and sight-fish for them. You have to have clear water, so look for it in the backs of pockets and other places you find bedding fish. When I sight-fish, I’m going to throw a wacky-rigged Senko, a light Texas-rigged Senko or a creature bait like a Yamamoto Flapp’n Hog.
So, get a game plan in mind when you head to the lake in April. You can fish to your strength, because somewhere on that lake, bass will be ready to bite. Actually, it’s a time to fish shallow for most-every gamefish: crappie, bluegill, bass. All of them will be in 10 feet of water or less. It’s a great time to be on the water. One thing we do have to deal with is yellow-pine pollen that’s all around, but that’s all. This month, nothing should stop you from putting some bass in your livewell.