Where the Pros Fish

Four tournament veterans reveal their favorite spring hotspots.

Field & Stream Online Editors

The first hint of spring's warming weather gets bass anglers going because it gets bass moving toward shallow water, where they're more accessible. However, they're not necessarily easier to catch.

Even pros admit they often have problems locating and catching spring bass. That's why most of them keep notes on how they do it. Here, four of America's best bass anglers offer a page from their springtime playbooks:

**(1) **Gary Klein: Shallow woody cover. "Even in March, when water temperatures are in the low to mid-50s, I look for bass around stumps, flooded trees, laydowns, and brushpiles in coves where the fish will later spawn," says the Texas pro. "This type of cover provides enough protection that the bass can suspend near the surface, where the water is warmest." Without such places to offer security, the fish will often stay deeper.

"I usually target the northwest shorelines in protected coves, using either a buzzbait with a slow retrieve or a jig, depending on how the fish are acting. Frequently, the bite gets better as the day progresses."

**(2) **Mark Kile: Points. "Bass often stop at points during their migration into shallow water," explains this Arizona pro, "especially if it's the last structure they encounter before reaching their spawning flats. If a point features good cover, it will be even more attractive to them, and you may find several bass in one spot."

Kile fishes plastic worms, lizards, and tubes, letting the lures just fall to the bottom before picking them up right away for another cast. What's surprising, he says, is that the fish are often in water less than 10 feet deep.

(3) Larry Nixon: Ditches. "Bass use small drainages as migration highways," notes Nixon, an Arkansas pro who competes in both FLW and B.A.S.S. events. "These routes may be only a foot deeper than the surrounding flat, but that's all the fish need."

To find ditches, Nixon slowly crosses potential spawning coves while closely watching his depthfinder. "Once I locate a ditch, I'll typically follow it toward deeper water, but if I don't catch anything, I'll turn and head shallow. I concentrate on bends, intersections, and depth changes. Jigs, plastic worms, and even crankbaits can score well," he says.

(4) Terry Baksay: Rocks and riprap. Baksay, an FLW pro based in Connecticut, says, "I fish rock piles, old rock fences, and long riprap walls because they give bass the option of vertical movement as water temperatures change. Normally, I can find fish within 15 feet of the surface."

He recommends hitting the outer points of rocks (such as those commonly found near dams or bridges), or wherever the rocks form a sharp angle or indentation. His favorite lures include deep-diving jerkbaits, crankbaits, and plastic tubes, which allow him to cover different depths. He casts parallel to the rocks and bumps them with his lure during the retrieve.

Any of these four hotspots can remain hot from early spring right into the spawning period-so be sure to jot each of them down in your bass playbook.