Pete Ponds never hesitated when he pulled the front end of his bass boat close to the seawall of a 500-acre lake.
“Watch ’em eat this swimbait,” he said, with the confidence of an Elite Series bass pro. He launched the 6-inch Bull Shad lure down bank setting up a retrieve parallel to the seawall about three feet away.
“Look! Look! There’s one chasing it,” Ponds hollered.
Before I could turn, I heard the strike.
It sounded like a giant bass attacking a topwater lure, and water splashed three feet in the air.
“Yeah, baby, that’s it,” Ponds hollered, kneeling down on the front deck. “I told you swimbaits work in the spring, and here’s your proof.”
With that, he grabbed the fish by the lip and swung it up over the side of his boat. Both sets of treble hooks were in its mouth.
Five minutes into our fishing trip, Ponds had proven his point, that a story on swimbaits in the spring was worth pursuing.
“Everybody thinks fall when they start talking about swimbaits, and that is a peak time when the bite is aggressive,” he said. “But I’m telling you that if you have the right conditions, and that’s clear water and hungry fish, swimbaits will work all year, and especially in the spring.
“This lake, like most of Mississippi’s lakes this time of year (early to mid April) have bass that are in all stages of the spawn, pre-spawn, bedding and post-spawn. We are looking for those big females that haven’t moved to beds and those that have already been there, done that and have moved back off. This one (the first fish) is obviously fat with eggs.”
Ponds used a number of lures to catch fish that day, so it wasn’t like the swimbait was the only option.
“As you can see from today, this particular swimbait (6-inch floating Bull Shad Gizzard Shad) catches big fish,” he said. “This is not a numbers lure. This is for somebody who is looking for the big bass, trophy bass, and is willing to throw it all day for a handful of bites.
“I caught two fish, both over 5 pounds today, and had a bigger bass hit it and miss it, and that was it.”
The bigger fish that hit and missed the lure was a 7-pounder that Ponds caught by throwing a soft plastic critter-type lure right into the spot where the bass struck at the swimbait. That’s a tip to remember for any topwater or near topwater lure — keep a soft plastic bait ready.
Ponds said there’s a number of quality soft- and hard-bodied swimbaits on the market, including the ever-popular BassTrix type.
“The BassTrix and that type are good for fishing in vegetation and any kind of cover, because they are basically a soft-plastic weedless lure like a Texas-rig,” he said. “There are a lot of those and I use them, too.
“But what I like about the bigger, hard-bodied types like the Bull Shad is that it is a big profile bait that will pull fish up to strike in open water. It comes in three styles, floating, slow-sink and fast-sink. In Mississippi, they are particularly good on Pickwick and Bay Springs Lake, where the water is clear. I really like a swimbait in clear water.”