Blade Baitin’ Bass

For my early spring smallmouth fishing, there are a large variety of lures that can be effective. One such lure is the blade bait. Sure, jerkbaits are another staple, but often they require a pause in the retrieve of 6 or 7 seconds or more. And in ultra cold water, a jerkbait may not be the most effective way to target fish.

For my money, when the water is 50 degrees or less, I’m throwing a blade bait. They cast a proverbial country mile, even in strong spring winds; they sink quickly, allowing me to cover a lot of water; and best of all—they flat out catch fish! And not just smallmouth will chew on this piece of metal. I’ve caught just about everything that swims up here in northern Michigan with a blade bait. And even though I may be targeting smallmouth bass, the reality of knowing that I might very well catch something else only leads to the excitement.

Gear Check and Maintenance

During the shorter days of winter, when I look longingly out on the lake, wishing for the spring bass opener, I think of the things that I can do to get ready for the next season from the warmth of my workshop.

It’s during this time that I take the time to visually inspect every crankbait, jerkbait, spinnerbait and swimbait. I look at the hooks on each lure, inspecting them for sharpness, rust or bends in the hooks that can weaken them. I replace the hooks that need it, and neatly organize the lures back into their respective boxes that I’ve carefully labeled. Nothing can be more frustrating than digging through lure boxes or swapping hooks when I’m on the water with customers, trying to either locate a certain lure or having to replace hooks that I was too lazy to take care of when I had the time. Not only is it a waste of time, but also for me it’s unprofessional. So I make sure that I do the necessary maintenance during the off-season.

I also make sure that I look at the split rings on each crankbait, jerkbait and swimbait. These may not seem like a big deal, since they don’t get some of the perceived abuse that hooks do, but given that this is a crucial connection between the line on my reel and the bait itself, it’s worthy of a few seconds of attention. Catch enough fish on a bait, and there’s sure to be some weakening or bending of the split rings. With a good pair of split ring pliers, changing these out is a cinch, and will keep you casting and not cussing.