Bay Springs, located below Pickwick Lake between Tupelo and Corinth, was the first lake impounded to create the Tenn-Tom Waterway.
And in March it’s an awesome lake for bass fishing, with vegetation on its points, ledges and drop-offs. It’s been producing good numbers of big bass of all kinds.
The baitfish and bass will swim into this grass to spawn and for protection. Later in March, the bass will move out to the edge of the grass.
I like to fish the main lake first with a vibrating lure: a lipless crankbait like the Rat-L-Trap and a Red Eye Shad, and then the Reel’N Shad.
You can cover a lot of water with these crankbaits and rip them through shallow or deep vegetation to drive those big spawning female bass crazy.
I prefer a ¼-ounce shad-colored or red-colored lipless crankbait fished on 20-pound-test White Peacock Fluorocarbon line, a 7-foot fiberglass cranking rod and a 7.3:1 gear ratio cranking reel.
Most of the grass during early March on the main lake is where bass will hold on long points that run a good distance out in the lake. This aquatic vegetation primarily will be underwater at 5 to10 feet deep.
I’ll let my bait fall, and then retrieve it slowly just at the top of the grass so the hooks of the lure touch the top tips of the grass.
Then I’ll use a steady retrieve.
If the bass don’t take the crankbait on a steady retrieve, I’ll cast the bait out, let it fall into the grass and pump it up just above the grass when the grass isn’t very thick coming off the bottom.
If this technique doesn’t work, probably because the grass is too thick, I’ll have another rod of the same length on my casting deck with the same type of reel.
But, instead of using the 20-pound fluorocarbon, I’ll fish with 50-pound braided line.
If I’m catching more grass on the hooks of my Rat-L-Trap than I am bass, I’ll pick up the rod with the 50-pound braided line and rip a Red Eye Shad through the grass.
Since the Red Eye Shad swims as it falls, I’ll let this crankbait fall into the grass, rip it up and allow it to fall back.
Many times that pumping motion fires up the bass, and they’ll take the Red Eye Shad as it swims back to the bottom.
Often, the grass will be in the shallow water, so I’ll retrieve my bait back out to the deep water.
But if the grass hasn’t come up very high in the shallow water, I’ll use my Raymarine depth finder to locate the bottom break, where the grass line drops off to deep water.
Then I’ll work the lipless crankbait through the grass and let if fall over the lip of the break.
The Reel’N Shad
I’ll fish the Mann’s Reel’N Shad as a follow-up bait much the same way in the same places as the lipless crankbaits.
I like the shad and watermelon red colors of the Reel’N Shad, and will start off picking the top of the grass.
I’ll have two different Reel’N Shads rigged Texas style on my casting deck — the 5-inch and the new 9-inch versions. The bigger-sized bass at Bay Springs might prefer the 9-inch lure.
I’ll reel these baits through the top of the grass and allow them to hit, shake and bounce off the top of the grass in both shallow and deep water.
Most anglers are somewhat timid casting a 9-inch lure because they mistakenly believe this lure’s too big for the bass at Bay Springs. However, in a one-day bass tournament there, the winning weight for five fish usually will be between 20 and 25 pounds.
Most of your five-fish limit will be spotted and largemouth bass, with perhaps one 4- to 5-pound smallmouth.
Bass in the wood
Another place I’ll fish is in the creeks and sloughs with standing timber, reeling the Reel’N Shad slowly through the structure.
I call these fish in the creeks off the main river “resident bass.” The creeks often have deep channels with standing timber on their edges, so bass can live there all year and move from shallow water to deep water as the baitfish move.
At Bay Springs, many of the big female bass in the creeks will move from the deep creek channels and stage in 5 to 8 feet of water for the spawn on that standing timber.
Two large creeks feed Bay Springs; however, there are numbers of small creeks and bays off the main river containing timber to fish.
Another lure I turn to in March is a ½-ounce chartreuse-and-white spinnerbait with willow leaf blades that I’ll run through the timber. The front blade will be silver, and the back blade will be gold.
I’ll slow-troll with 26-pound fluorocarbon line on a 7-foot medium-heavy graphite rod and a 6.4:1 baitcasting reel.
Although you’ll catch bass in the timber and in the main-lake grass during March, the grass usually pays more dividends.
This month I expect to catch at least 15 bass a day at Bay Springs, weighing from 1½ up to 6 or 7 pounds each.