Fishing Freshwater Bass Fishing Largemouth Bass

Bass Fishing: Crankbaits Catch ‘Em in the Prespawn


Cliff Prince is a pretty even-keel guy, but when bass enter the prespawn mode, he gets pretty cranky. Beyond the play on words, the Bassmaster Elite Series pro from northeast Florida actually does a lot cranking this time of year–particularly with lipless models.

That’s because these fast-moving commotion-makers are fantastic search baits that help anglers locate the depth zone in which soon-to-be-mama bass are holding. Prior to taking to their beds, big fish roam the perimeters of spawning areas with one thing on their minds: food.

Prince often targets hydrilla beds, where he’ll cast a 5/8-ounce XCalibur one knocker lipless bait toward the grass, intentionally snag a few stems and snatch it free to trigger reaction bites. Another option: slow, steady retrieves in open water near the hydrilla edges.

“In some cases you find the fish in those same areas on shell beds, which they use to stage up and gorge themselves on shad before they spawn,” Prince said. “I’ll steadily retrieve the bait or let it fall to the bottom and slow roll it back with short, light jerks up on the rod until the fish tell you how they want it.”

Prince fishes his bait on 30-pound braid to prevent breakoffs in the weeds, or 15-pound fluorocarbon for the steady retrieves in open water. A 7-foot, 1-inch or a 7-3, medium-heavy to heavy action Duckett White Ice rod, he said, offers a dual benefit.

“I like this rod because it takes a lot of the work out of jerking a bait out of the grass,” he said. “Also, the bite is usually a reaction bite so you half to be quick with the hook set and the stiffer pole helps you get a better hookup.”