The bass will be very shallow at 9-mile long Bay Springs Lake in April — and probably be spawning or preparing to spawn. This lake, south of Iuka on the Tennessee/Tombigbee Waterway, is fairly clear. You should be able to see the bass on their beds.
I’ll fish fast and cover a lot of water in as many main-lake pockets and creek pockets as possible. I’ll start off fishing main-lake pockets near the dam, because they hold bigger bass. The size of the pocket determines the pattern I fish. In a small pocket, I’ll start off fishing the point at the entrance to the pocket and fish all the way around it. In a large pocket off the main river, I’ll begin fishing about halfway back into the pocket on its north side and fish all the way around its back. If I don’t catch any bass in the backs of or on the north sides of large pockets, I’ll leave them and go downriver to the next pocket. Although you also may catch some nice-sized largemouths in these large pockets, I’ve found more spawning April bass in the creek pockets.
I’ll start off fishing with 3/8-ounce buzzbaits — a black one on one rod and a white one on the other. I’ll have 30-pound braid on both medium-heavy 7-foot-10 rods with 8:1 gear-ratio reels. I always fish the black buzzbait first in April and fish it about 75 percent of the time in fairly clear or slightly stained water. But after the sun comes up and the day’s bright and sunny, I’ll switch to fishing the white buzzbait. In April, the bass may bite a buzzbait all day.
Fish a Baby 1-Minus
I’ll also have a Baby 1-Minus in a shad pattern tied to 20-pound White Peacock fluorocarbon on a 7:1 reel and a 6-foot-6 rod on my casting deck. You’ll see holes in the submerged grass that rocks, submerged stumps or something else on the bottom has kept the grass from growing. I’ll be keying in on those targets; cast past those openings in the grass and reel the Baby 1-Minus over the tops of those holes, since the grass won’t have topped out yet.
Craw Worm, Lizard, Tube
Unless Bay Springs has received a lot of rain, once the sun comes up, you should be able to see the beds. Smallmouth and spotted bass will bed somewhat deeper, often spawning in 4 to 5 feet of water. Generally, you can watch them react to a lure. I fish these beds by making long pitches, because I don’t want the bass to spot me before I can see them.
I’ll leave my trolling motor on high, go down a bank and mark the beds on my Garmin GPS depth finder. Then, I’ll move down the other side of the pocket fairly quickly and mark as many beds as possible in that pocket. Next, I’ll go along the side of the pocket where I’ve marked beds and fish slowly by pitching.
My fourth rod will be medium-heavy with an 8:1 reel and a Mann’s black/blue Craw Worm with a 5/16-ounce weight on 23-pound fluorocarbon. I’ll be pitching that Craw Worm to the holes in the grass, underwater stumps and rocks and any kind of cover I spot that a bass will use for spawning.
A white lizard and a white flipping tube will be tied on the fifth and sixth rods. I like these two white baits that enable me to see the lure in the bed and watch how the bass react. A bass often will suck a bait into its mouth and blow it out quickly. If that’s what’s happening, I know I must set the hook more quickly than usual. If I can’t get the bass to take the lure when I’m pitching, then after two or three pitches, I’ll leave that bed and go fish another one, looking for a bass that will take my bait.
What to expect
On an April day at Bay Springs, I expect to catch and release 20 or more bass, and most of them — two-thirds of my catch — will be male bass either creating or guarding the beds. I’ll also expect to catch five to seven female bass, which should be the big spawners. The majority of my April catch will be spotted bass.