Slingin' in the Rain

Grab your slicker and tie on a spinnerbait.

Field & Stream Online Editors

Rain beat against my Gore-Tex hood as I surveyed the small Ohio reservoir's milfoil-filled cove. It was a cold April afternoon, the sky was overcast, and the cove's rain-spattered surface diffused what little light was entering the water. I needed a conspicuous lure, something a bass could easily see.

I started slinging a white 1/2-ounce spinnerbait rigged with tandem No. 3 and No. 5 nickel Indiana blades past small clumps of weeds, retrieving it through lanes and openings in the milfoil beds. The action of the blades lifted the bait in the water column, allowing me to retrieve it slowly. Raising the rod tip high kept the lure shallow enough for me to see any strikes.

After that I barely noticed the rain. More than a dozen largemouths inhaled my lure that afternoon, the best seven totaling more than 25 pounds. Those were the most productive two hours I've ever spent on that lake.

Deadly Dervishes
A spinnerbait is always my first choice for soggy-weather springtime bass fishing. Rain is usually accompanied by a falling barometer, which makes bass more inclined to feed and chase. And the dark skies and dimpled surface that reduce light penetration also encourage bass to move to the edges of their cover.

The result is a much enlarged strike zone. You don't have to put your bait within inches of a bass' nose to prompt a bite. Merely get it close enough for the fish to see it or sense the vibration through its lateral lines. A bass in a rainy-day mode won't overlook a flashing, pulsating spinnerbait.

To fish shallow water in a steady rain, I like to use a light-colored lure, usually a white 3/8- or 1/2-ounce spinnerbait with nickel blades. I opt for rounded Indiana or Colorado blades, which have more lift, when I want to run the lure slowly just beneath the surface. If I need to retrieve the bait a little faster or a little deeper, I switch to narrower willowleaf blades. Heavy 15- to 20-pound-test line helps reduce breakoffs in thick cover.

[NEXT "Story Continued"] When the rain breaks, or it starts showering intermittently, I downsize. A big spinnerbait fished in slick water may look too gaudy to bass. I've had success going as small as 1/8 ounce, in white, with a No. 2 Indiana and a No. 3 Colorado or Oklahoma blade. If you can't find a small spinnerbait in one of these combinations, buy one that has a Colorado lead blade and a willowleaf trailing, and replace the latter with another Colorado. I fish these diminutive versions just as I do the larger ones, and with the same heavy line. They are capable of drawing strikes from sizable bass.

Cast to Cover
Largemouths will charge spinnerbaits from any type of cover, but they tend to show a preference on any given day. Find out where the bass are currently holding and then focus your efforts accordingly. You need to probe shallow grassbeds, boat docks, stumps, flooded bushes, the limbs of fallen trees, and any other available cover until the bass tell you where to fish for them.

Take advantage of your lure's characteristics when searching for these bass. The spinnerbait is one of the most snag-resistant lures and efficiently combs vast amounts of water (even at low speeds). Cast beyond the cover when possible, then guide your spinnerbait close to it with your rod tip. Don't overlook riprap and rocky banks; bass often position themselves nearby in shallow water when it rains. Move your boat close to the bank, cast parallel to the shoreline, and keep your bait hard by the rocks throughout the retrieve. When you find those bass, you'll forget all about the weather.