Fletcher Shryock writes how you can catch shallow prespawn bass this spring. Photo by Phoenix Moore

One thing that a lot of people know about me is that I love to fish shallow. That’s why I enjoy fishing early in the spring, because I’m fishing for shallow, prespawn fish.

I kind of started my professional career by keeping it simple and fishing shallow. In the first few years of my career, I made a living flipping and pitching through shallow water looking for bites. That really worked out well for me because I was able to keep it simple, which to me is huge this time of the year.

That’s not to say that other techniques aren’t important. I look at it this way: if the New England Patriots need a play in the fourth quarter, they aren’t relying on a running back to make a play. They’re relying on what or who got them there, and that’s Tom Brady. Brady has proved time and time again to be the best option and that’s how I think about fishing shallow. When push comes to shove, when I need to make something happen, that’s what I’m doing.

Water Level (Of Course) Is Key

People look at guys who love fishing shallow and sometimes give us the negative connotation of a “bank beater.” There’s so much more to it than that.

The other day, I was fishing on Nickajack Lake in Tennessee and having a lot of success targeting stained water (because it’s warmer) at the backs of creeks. Whereas on Lake Okeechobee, I was more looking for clearer water. It’s obviously all depending on where you are in the country.

I’ve learned over the years that water level is so important to pay attention to. If you can find stable water, or water that’s rising a little bit, those fish will not be afraid to get super shallow. On the flipside, if you drop shallow water even by just 6 inches, those fish freak out. You’ll see them head to the outskirts of stuff or even get into locations that are just unfishable.

Timing is Everything

This time of the year, I’ve found that the bite is way better in the afternoon rather than first thing in the morning. If I have an area that I think could be really productive, I usually won’t hit it until around 11 a.m. or noon. It takes a little bit of time for those great shallow areas to heat up.

I know it’s tempting, but don’t be afraid to save your best stuff for a little later in the day. If you don’t, someone else may roll through an area you hit in the morning and clean it up for you.

My Must-Have Early Spring Baits

Remember, it’s all about keeping it simple for me. I love using a Z-man ChatterBait Jack Hammer with a Yamamoto Zako Swimbait trailer. I feel like that is the hands-down best combination of vibrating jig and trailer that’s out there. I know that a lot of people like to work spinnerbaits into the rotation, but I’m more of a vibrating jig kind of guy.

Obviously, I’m a flipping and pitching guy. I like to pitch a 3/8- to 1/2-ounce jig with a Yamamoto Flappin’ Hog. That Flappin’ Hog is a bulky trailer that I really want to slow down. A lot of times those fish are moving slower because that water is colder. A slower fall is key on that to really give the fish a chance to react to it.

Prespawn or spawn, from Florida to California, a 4- to 6-inch Yamamoto Senko is a deadly bait this time of the year, no matter where you are. A standard Texas rig with anywhere from a 3/16- to a 5/16-ounce weight is ideal. Pitch or flip that thing around sea walls, laydowns and bushes. When the fish are spawning, they can’t stand that Senko being on their bed. If the water is really muddy, that’s when I try to stay away from it.

I hope these tips help you out this spring!