Bank Fishing in the Springtime

Father and son fishing from bankEveryone likes to fish. I can’t say that I know anyone who does not like to go fishing, especially in the springtime. The springtime is a favorite time period because the big bass are active, very shallow and accessible. That last word is a key word to those anglers who don’t have boats and have to fish from the bank. 

For the majority of the year, an unusual paradox transpires: The boat fishermen try to get as close as they can to the bank, and the shore fishermen try to cast out from the shore as far as they can. But in the springtime, both anglers can have equal opportunity to the big bass that are in their spawning period, strolling up and down the banks in search of yet more food … spawning areas … an American tradition!

Boat anglers are tossing spinnerbaits, jerk baits, spring lizards and topwaters. The shore anglers are tossing identically the same thing. The favorite is by far and above the spinnerbait, and a close second is a jerk bait, like a Smithwick Rogue or a Cordell Red Fin. These are the baits that the bass react to during the majority of the spawn -- particularly the pre-spawn. 

Post-spawn, the lizard becomes the favorite. Bass despise the lizards, for they represent a threat to their newly deposited spawn. When the bass attack the lizard, they bite on the head in an effort to kill the lizard. 

With plastic worms, they will pick up the worm mid-sack and move the worm. Skilled anglers know to thread the hook deep into the worm and bring the hook out the egg sack. Thus, when the bass bites, the angler has a good chance of setting the hook in the mouth because of how the worm is rigged.

Topwaters do not bring raging catches, but they do bring a variety of catches in the post-spawn and good stringers in the pre-spawn as the fish are stocking up on food in order to have a healthy spawn and have the stamina to make it through the spawn. Zara Spooks and chugger-like baits are ideal for pre-spawn bass because they represent a “wounded” baitfish or frog -- easy prey for a largemouth. One of the antics of feeding largemouths in this time frame is they will come up and slap the bait with their tail to either stun the forage or kill it. They will circle back to the forage immediately and watch. If the angler reels in his bait, the bass will leave. But if the angler will jiggle the lure like it’s dying and then give it small jerks, he or she may experience the strike of a lifetime as the bass will open its mouth wide and come up from under the lure and gulp it in. Amazing thing to see!

The best part of spring is the guys and gals who don’t have a boat can fish from the bank and have the opportunity to catch big bass. And even better ... someone’s 8-year-old kid may catch the lunker of their lifetime. That would be the best outcome.

by Jimmy Houston