First, since its late spring with the spawning season probably in full swing for the next few weeks the Senko style baits will be tough to beat. Rigged weightless hooked either weedless Texas-style through the nose or with an exposed Wacky hook through the middle these can be deadly most of the summer. On bedded largemouth flip the bait into the nest simply quivering the plastic as it sits there. Patiently watch mamma bass too noting if she angles her body downward. If she does and her gills flair get ready cause it’s gonna be hook-settin’ time! On bedded Brown fish a plastic tube bait is a winner but just be sure you can see the bait. White is often a good choice since they won’t hesitate to spawn deeper than Largies. Most of the time the smaller male will be on nest patrol with big-mamma off to the side. Drop the tube right into the nest being careful not to spook them. Often Smallies will aggressively protect it and be easily caught. When released most will immediately return to nest duties but are a blast if you can outwit them.
I keep the tube tied on spinning tackle with 6lb line all summer long because it’s a great weedline bait in deep water. Rigging is simple too. Just slide a mushroom or tube jig into the hollow body pushing the hook eye out through the plastic nose then tying on. One thing though retie that 6lb line after “every” fish. Important if you want to avoid cursing rants. When fishing along deep edges make casts letting the bait fall on slack line allowing a straight downward fall thus avoiding the pendulum-bait effect. Become a line-watcher too noting any jump or line twitch. Bass will often snatch the bait on the way down. As the tube meets bottom you’ll see a different line position from your rod tip so now give life to the plastic crawling it back. If hooks are sharp aggressive sets are unnecessary. Better to use a snap of the wrist ‘n arm. As for jig size and color green pumpkins and browns are good matched with 1/8 oz weights for light winds and a bit heavier if it blows. I use the Bass Pro tubes in a color #95 most of the time.
Now bait number 3 and a fun one at that. Most bassers often tie on a spinner bait fan-casting shallow weedy flats. My choice is the Swim Jig by Sumpn Sumpn Jigs. Find ‘em on line at http://www.sumpnsumpnjigs.com/#!store/vstc7=swim-jigs . Tipped with a white Zoom Fat Albert grub it’s a great bait and easy to fish. One more hint put a drop of Super Glue on the grub where it meets the jig collar. The plastic will be good for multiple fish and is much better in weedy areas than a spinnerbait. With steady slow retrieves fish will simply engulf the bait leaving you with a “no-bait-on-the-line” feel. Sweeping horizontal hook sets work best. Be sure to rig the Fat Albert with the tail down for the best action too. Oh yea my favorite color? Emerald Shiner. In fact at the recent Dick Hiley/St. Jude Tournament on the
As water warms lily pad bays and weedy areas become home for big largemouth. If you enjoy heart-stopping action tie on a Tournament Scum Frog and get into the junk. The Minn-Kota weedless prop or a push pole will become your new best buddy. Cast the frog beyond open pockets or along weed edges giving the hollow plastic bait life. Slowly reel, twitch or pause you can’t do it wrong but when the water boils like flushing a toilet resist the “yanking urge!” Wait, as hard as it may be until you feel weight on the line then yank with everything you’ve got. The idea here is to put you in control because if that big fish starts driving the bus bad things happen. Here’s the time for heavy braided line maybe in the 50lb class with baitcasting reels on long heavy stiff rods. Frog options also include dock areas, targets like stumps ‘n brush piles along with other shady areas. Remember too that fish see only the bottom of the bait. Fancy designs on the plastic hollow backs frequently catch only you! My preferences are the dark or white bottoms. Oh yea one more tip – with a needle-nose pliers open the hook bend just a little and also push a few worm rattles into the hollow frog body. Makes noise and adds a little extra weight for long casts.
There are countless other ways to fool both Large and Smallmouth Bass but these are just a few to break the ice on this opener, the “Real Minnesota Opener!” If we meet sometime on the water I may not tell you exactly what I’m doin’ but if one of the baits above are tied on it might be a good hint to give it a try too!
Now I’ve gotta finish spoolin’ some reels!
Good Luck ‘n Good Fishin’!