The spring prespawn period is arguably the best time of the year to catch loads of potbellied smallmouth bass. Warming water on top of an extended winter fast means these fish are ready to chew the paint off of a variety of lures. Wired2fish’s McKeon Roberts shares some top guidance on finding productive spawning flats and how to fish them strategically with a paddle tail swimbait rigged on a jig head.
TACKLE & GEAR
- KAYAK – Old Town Sportsman AutoPilot 136
- FISH FINDER – Humminbird HELIX 7 G3 CHIRP MEGA SI GPS
- SWIMBAIT – Megabass Spark Shad, 4-inch “Neon Pepper”
- JIG HEAD – TroKar Swimbait Jig Head, 4/0
- ROD – Megabass Orochi XX Spinning Rod “Whipsnake”
- REEL – Daiwa Tatula LT 3000 Spinning Reel
- LINE (braid) – Seaguar Smackdown Flash Green, 10-pound
- LINE (fluorocarbon leader) – Seaguar Tatsu Fluorocarbon, 10-pound
McKeon loads his kayak when the woods turn green. While there can be an abundance of shallow bass, early pushes of fish are still acclimating to rising water temperatures. Jerkbait fishing can be the ticket but Roberts switches to a subtle paddle tail swimbait if he’s not getting bit. In ultra-clear water, he prefers realistic swimbaits that swim naturally at slow speeds. Curious smallmouth can’t resist biting a swimbait retrieved slowly with an occasional pop of the rod.
Roberts focuses his efforts on shallow flats comprised of rock and gravel, but soft bottoms can hold fish too. Satellite imagery coupled with side imaging reconnaissance helps get you started in productive areas. Once on the water, Roberts finds “spot on the spots” by observing rock transitions on side imaging that act as corridors for feeding bass. Make long casts, fish slowly, and get ready for some incredible bites!