12 May, 2017
In early summer, bass are settling into patterns that they will sustain and are visiting places that they will return to for the next few months. Their metabolism is up — they'll eat more things and eat more frequently than they do in winter — and their locations become somewhat predictable. Their diet becomes minnows, crawfish and frogs, and your job when selecting a bait or lure is to match what they are eating.
Live bait is probably the best and most reliable way to catch bass, although largemouth have a tendency to swallow live bait faster than artificial lures, making lures a better choice for the catch-and-release fisherman. Shiners and shad live longer if hooked through their lips and any water temperature changes for the baitfish must be gradual. Match the size of your hook to the size of the bait, not to the size of the fish you want to catch. Check local laws to make sure the type of baitfish you're using is legal in the water you are fishing.
Plastic worms are versatile bass baits, and the worm is probably the best lure you can use if you are after trophy bass. Plastic worms can be fished weightless or with weights, swum quickly across the surface, slithered through weeds or dragged slowly across structures on the bottom of lakes. There are thin worms, fat worms, straight worms, curly-tailed worms and a variety of takeoffs on those basic shapes. Experiment with sizes, depth, color and speed of retrieve until you find the combination that the bass want.
The Ultimate Bass Fishing Resource Guide says "spinnerbaits are great to start the day." Spinnerbaits, like plastic worms, come in an endless variety of sizes, styles and colors. The size and shape of the blade and the size of the weight, along with the speed of retrieve, all affect the depth at which the lure runs. Start with a basic 1/4- or 3/8-ounce lure with a chartreuse and white skirt and retrieve it at various speeds. If that doesn't catch fish, start experimenting by changing your lure size, blade style or color. Try to match the size and color of any baitfish you see in the water.
Pro fisherman Shaw Grigsby likes topwater poppers in early summer. They can be fished slowly so that they barely make a ripple on the surface, or they can be skittered quickly so that they imitate the skipping of an injured shad. If the popper has a skirt or a feather tail, it can also be fished without moving it. Just let the motion of the water do all the work.
- fishing lure image by jimcox40 from Fotolia.com