The Ultimate Spring Bass Fishing Guide | Part 2: Spring Bass Tactics with Bassmaster Elite Series Angler Luke Palmer

The Ultimate Spring Bass Fishing Guide, a five-part series featuring interviews with our Gill Fishing pro staff, including Luke Palmer, Dakota Ebare, Blake Smith, and Quentin Cappo. These anglers share their expertise on the bass spawn and also break down their ideal spring scenario to catch a bass heavier than 10 pounds.

Read more about each stage of the bass spawn and how you can determine what stage is happening on your local lake here.

Photo credit: Luke Palmer
Gill Fishing pro angler Luke Palmer showing off a toad that helped him finish in the money in this month’s Bassmaster Elite Series stop at Sabine River.

Part 2: Spring Bass Tactics with Bassmaster Elite Series Angler Luke Palmer

Luke Palmer, a Coalgate, Oklahoma native who fishes the Bassmaster Elite Series, has placed in the money in nearly every B.A.S.S. tournament he’s fished. His deep understanding of the bass spawn is a major part of his consistency.

Today, Luke walks us through his tactics for spring bass, in his own words, including a look at where he’s hunting the big hawgs and the lures he’s throwing during the three stages of the bass spawn.

Pre-spawn: “Early in the year, when I start to see water in the mid 40’s to lower 50’s, I’m looking at main lake situations. A main lake point, a main lake bluff, anywhere where there’s deep water close by and they can go up and down the water column really quickly. They’re thinking about spawning, but they still have another 10-to-15 degrees warmer to go. I look for clean water, and I’ll throw a Smithwick Rogue jerk bait, or a Yumbrella Flash Mob Junior umbrella rig. I’ll also throw a jig, like a War Eagle finesse jig.

“When we start getting into that 50-to-55-degree range, I’ll start moving into creeks and pockets that still have deeper water next to them. They still need access to deep water, where they’ll retreat if a cold front moves through, but they’re really thinking about spawning now. I’m still using the same style of baits, but maybe I’ll also throw a crank bait like a Norman Speed N. I’ll fish around cover and rockier banks. They’ll start to push into that three-to-six-foot range and really be gorging up.”

“Once the water warms between 56 and 65 degrees, I’m dang sure going to have a Booyah spinner bait, and I’ll switch to a Booyah XCS 1 square-bill crank bait. They’re really getting shallow, and I’m going for reaction bites. At this point, there are probably some fish getting on the beds, so I’ll have a flipping bait tied on, like a Yum Bad Mamma.”

Spawn: “Once the water temperature gets past 65, spawning is on their mind. They’re on the banks, and anywhere there’s hard bottom is where they’re looking to spawn on. Think pea gravel, and chunks of rock turning into gravel or sand. I tend to stay away from places that are really silty, unless I’m in Florida because that’s pretty much all there is down there.”

“I’m really working through these areas. You’ve got to slow down and fish it, and you’ve got to pick it apart. You’re going to be fishing over beds that you can’t see, but rest assured they are there. Pick a bait you’re comfortable with. The Yum Dinger is a good bait, either wacky rigged or Texas rigged.”

Post-Spawn: “In lakes with a shad population, whenever I see the shad spawn happening, I know the bass spawn is winding down. When the spawn ends, bass will start going back to the main lake.”

“You’re catching them on those same transition areas you found them during pre-spawn, and a lot of times those bass will be keyed in on the shad spawn or herring spawn in the lakes that have them. The shad will spawn around rip rap, and I’ll throw a spinner bait, a white spin jig or a bladed jig to cover a lot of ground. A topwater plug, like a Zara Spook, also works really well.”

“You’ll have a good two-to-three weeks during post-spawn before they move into their summer patterns, unless you’ve got an extreme weather change. You should have steady temperatures, and the post-spawn bite will stick until the water gets past 73 degrees.”

Check back for part 3 of this series, read how Dakota Ebare patterns bass during the spring on the Major League Fishing tournament trail.