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Catch More Spring Bass By Cranking the Dirt

If you can find the heat (warm water), you’ll find the mother lode of prespawn bass. Ott DeFoe reveals his tried-and-true strategies for finding and catching spring bass spread across shallow mud flats. His tool of choice? Naturally, this East Tennessee native reaches for a balsawood crankbait. 

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Spring draws bass into shallow waters. If you can find the warmest water, you’ll often find mass consolidations of fish of all species, including bass. DeFoe spies expansive flats using Shallow Water Highlight on his mapping. Mud or silt-bottomed areas are usually the most productive, as the dark bottom retains the sun’s energy and warms quickly. DeFoe explains that areas with subtle depth changes, scattered wood, and emerging vegetation are hotspots for early spring bass. He emphasizes the importance of visual cues like baitfish activity over your electronics, as the abundance of life in these areas can be misleading.


DeFoe reviews his roster of standout lures for this application. All of them are moving baits adept at covering water and contacting cover to trigger reaction strikes. An aggressive wobbling squarebill crankbait excelled as water temperatures pushed the 60-degree mark and flipped the “eat switch” on. Moreover, squarebills fish clean around isolated cover like wood and grass, so fowling is minimal. DeFoe also mixes in subtle flat-sided crankbaits or more traditional round bill varieties based on the water temperature, fish mood, and the targeted running depth. Spinnerbaits, bladed jigs, and swim jigs have their place, too. Check out a list of the best squarebill crankbaits for bass


Adapting your retrieve to the conditions is crucial. DeFoe shares how pumping the crankbait, especially in ultra-shallow waters laden with grass and debris, can keep your lure clean and trigger aggressive strikes. This technique, coupled with strategic pauses, simulates vulnerable prey, making your bait stand out in a sea of forage. 

Ott DeFoe’s expertise in spring bass fishing with crankbaits offers anglers a roadmap to success during this transitional season. By focusing on strategic location selection, deploying the right crankbait, and fine-tuning your retrieve, you’re set to experience some of the year’s best bass action.