I'm going to Bay Springs this month to fish for big spotted bass, but I won't be disappointed if I catch some large smallmouths and largemouths.

This reservoir near Dennis, on the Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway, holds all three types of bass. Using the techniques I'll suggest for this month, you'll probably catch all three. The smallmouth population in Bay Springs has grown steadily, and some nice-sized smallmouths live there.

The spotted bass will be on the banks this month, and I'll be fishing for spawning bass, pre-spawn bass and post-spawn bass. You should be able to catch bass that are going on the beds and coming off the beds.


My first major tactic will be to fish fast and cover a lot of water with a Mann's Classic spinnerbait in the 3/8-ounce size with a chartreuse/white skirt. I want a small Colorado nickel blade in the front and a No. 4 willowleaf blade behind it. I'll fish this spinnerbait on 15-pound-test fluorocarbon line on a 6-1/2-foot medium-heavy rod with a 6.3:1 Pinnacle Tournament Class reel. I'll fish down the bank, concentrating on points. The faster you reel the spinnerbait, the more likely you'll be to get a reaction strike from the spawning bass and the post-spawn bass. I'll be fishing the spinnerbait from 1 to 4 feet deep.


Remember, I also said we'll have pre-spawn bass this month at Bay Springs. To catch those fish, I'll be using a jerkbait that suspends in 4- to 7-foot-deep water on 8-pound-test fluorocarbon line. I like a perch-colored jerkbait with blue and chartreuse that I'll fish around main-lake points. I'll be fishing the jerkbait over water depths from 8- to 15-feet deep.

Unlike fishing a jerkbait in the winter, I'll be working this jerkbait pretty fast. The April water temperature probably will be in the 60-degree range, so you need to move the lure much faster than you do in the wintertime. Although I may pause it for a few seconds every now and then, I'll keep the bait coming to the boat.

I like to use suspending jerkbaits at this time of year, because once you get them down to the water depth you want to fish, they'll stay at that depth. I don't want my lure to rise or fall. When I pause it, I want it to stop dead-still in the water, and that's often when the strike will come.

Bass on the beds

You will see some bass on the beds in April, and I wear Costa Del Mar rose-colored sunglasses to spot them. Once I see a bass on the bed, whether it's a spotted bass, a largemouth or a smallmouth, I'll use two tactics to try to catch that fish.

My first strategy will be to use a black/blue-flake Mann's HardNose FrankenToad. I'll cast past the bed, swim the bait like it's a buzz bait up to the bed, kill the FrankenToad and let it dive right into the bed. That's often when the bass will take it.

Some bass are finicky, and they don't want to take a bait that makes noise on the water and dives into their beds. They may like a more subtle presentation.

For these bedding fish, I use a 1/4-ounce weight up the line and a white Mann's HardNose Tube. I'll be fishing the tube on 15-pound-test fluorocarbon. I'll use a No. 5/0 Gamakatsu hook, and I'll be pitching the tube in the bass's bed with a 7-1/2-foot light flipping rod with a Pinnacle Tournament Class 6.3:1 reel.

I like a white tube, so I can see the bait in the fish's bed and know when the bass picks it up. Some bass will attack as soon as the tube falls in the bed. Others will swim off the bed, circle it and look at the tube.

There's always a certain place on a bass's bed where the fish can't tolerate seeing a bait. When you find that magic spot, that's when you'll catch the bedding bass. I'll barely shake my line every now and then to make that tube quiver. I don't want to move the tube, since I want to keep it in the bed as long as possible. By shaking the line, I can make the tube look like it's alive.

A stringer of April bass

The spotted bass you'll catch at this time of year at Bay Springs often will be males weighing 1 to 2 1/2 pounds each. However, you'll also catch some big females weighing 2 to 5 pounds plus. You may catch some big smallmouths and largemouths too. Catching 15 bass is a really good day of fishing. You may catch a spotted bass weighing as much 6 pounds, a smallmouth up to 7 and largemouths weighing 8 or more.