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Pre-spawn bass fishing best of year By By Larry Myhre

I watched the big single spin spinnerbait coming through the shallow water of the upper reaches of the Iowa farm pond. The big Colorado blade was pulsing and sending out flashes of chartreuse as the colored blade pumped through the scattered stick-ups and emerging weeds.

Suddenly the shallow water boiled with the strike of a big largemouth and I saw the broad side of the fish as he turned, the spinnerbait hanging from his mouth.

I lunged back hard on the rod, and felt the weight of the four-pound fish. As the brawling bucketmouth continued his powerful lunge, the rod bowed, and my forearm began feeling the pressure. I was glad I had spooled the casting reel with 15-pound-test line.

My drag was screwed down tight, so there was no give. You don’t give line to largemouths in shallow water. It’s a tug of war, no holds barred. The fish turned and began running broadside, the line picking up trash from the water and accentuating the pressure.

If you are going to land these fish, you have to be in control. I lifted the heavy tip of the medium heavy rod and pulled the bass’s head out of the water, and began cranking it in like a water skier behind a boat.

It lunged between my wader-covered legs but I pulled back and grabbed its lower lip and hoisted the fish from its watery sanctuary.

With a quick twist I pulled the hook out and admired the heavy, egg-laden female. I put her back into the water and sent her on her way. In a couple of weeks, she’d build a nest, lay her eggs and pass on her genes to the next generation of bass.

My favorite time to fish largemouth bass is right now. Early spring, pre-spawn.

In our local area, my first choice for location would be a farm pond. As we move farther north, the choice would be glacial lakes in both South Dakota and Minnesota.

Farther west would be farm ponds in Nebraska and South Dakota, but small lake impoundments such as Buckskin Hills and Powder Creek should not be overlooked either. Neither should Iowa’s county conservation board lakes.

When you come right down to it, most of the waters in our three states contain largemouth bass. So, they are a gamefish that is available to just about everybody.

There are a few guidelines to remember when pursuing early largemouth bass. One, think shallow water. Two, think warm sunny days. Three, fish like you are trying to bag a trophy whitetail buck. In other words, quietly, carefully and keep out of sight.

When fishing from the shoreline, I learned long ago not to go “clump,” “clump,” “clump” down the shoreline with heavy steps. Just the sound of your footsteps will send every fish in front of you into deeper water.

I wear hip waders when fishing from shore because much of the time I am on my hands and knees, and you just stay drier. When I get close to the pond, I drop down to my hands and knees and carefully work my way to within 30 feet or so of the water. Then I make my first cast. As I fan cast the area in front, I begin easing closer and closer until I am kneeling at the water’s edge. Then my casts parallel the shoreline on both sides of me, with the casts, depending on the water’s depth, no more than 10 feet off the shoreline. If I’m in the shallow, upper end of the pond, I’ll fan cast all the way across because all of the water there will be shallow.

There is really no “best bait” for this early fishing. Usually you want to cover a lot of water and that is done best with a spinner bait. In recent years I’ve begun using a chatter bait quite a bit. These are very effective lures and, like a spinnerbait, relatively weedless. [Read more…]