Here in Michigan, the season opener rolls around when lakes are just starting to warm up after the thaw. Chasing largemouth in the early season can be a time of frustration, but targeting the right spots and using the right presentations can reap high rewards in cool to cold water.
Finding the Right Water
In late April, fish have two things on their mind: food and spawning. Opposed to summer months where fish are scattered deep and shallow, fish will be balled up and concentrated on key pieces of structure. Typically, I look for isolated brush piles or weed clumps in 12 to 17 foot of water. With the water temperature pushing the 50 degree mark, fish are beginning to feed and move up shallow to prepare for the spawn. Using Humminbird Down and Side Imaging, or even basic color sonar, you can locate isolated structure on weedlines or gravel flats where fish will stack up in April and early May. Again, look for anything isolated in semi deep water and fish the structure thoroughly, fish will typically be cruising around these spots or held up on the edges.
- Tactics, Baits and Presentations
It is no secret that a jig is one of the best choices for fishing cold water, but the type of jig and how you fish it is key. My preferred jig is a ⅜ ounce D & L Tackle Pro Baby Advantage jig. When fishing cold water, I always trim the front skirt into a fan shape, and this does two things: create a somewhat smaller profile of the jig, and helps to mimic the antennae of a defensive craw. Color and trailer are essential, and I use two colors in the spring. Spring craws are a dark shade of brown and orange, so an Enema craw color is my #1 choice. Black and blue is another color that should always be ready to go on cloudy or overcast days. For a trailer, i use a Gary Yamamoto Hula Grub, trimming off the front skirt and threading the bait to be completely straight, using a green pumpkin green grub to match my jig. Make a long cast to the structure, and crawl and hop the jig over tree limbs and grass stems, shaking the jig free and keeping the presentation steady, but not too fast.
For my springtime jig chores, I use a 7’ 1” MH G. Loomis jig rod with a Lew’s Tournament MG Speed Spool, spooled with 14 pound Sunline FC Sniper. I tie a Uni knot to my jigs, which I feel is not only simpler than a Palomar, but also slightly stronger. Always check your line for nicks or abrasion, and watch your line for light strikes. Good Luck!