It’s no mystery that bass start making their annual movements towards the shallows in the spring, to feed up before they spawn (and they usually stay there after they spawn, too).
Team Mercury pro Brett Hite loves to target largemouth bass when they’re in their shallow water springtime haunts, and his favorite bait to catch both numbers and size is the Z-Man Evergreen ChatterBait JackHammer.
If you follow pro bass fishing at all, you’ll know that Hite is one of the best in the game at working a vibrating jig and mining the shallows for bass.
“For me, the JackHammer is one of the best tools for catching largemouth in the spring,” Hite says. “It works everywhere largemouth live. Whether it’s a Tennessee River reservoir or a weedy natural lake, they work, and I’m usually fishing with one in the spring.”
Shallow water is easy enough to find in the spring, but Hite prefers locations such as the backs of bays or creek arms where fresh spring rains may be entering the lake, offering a little more color to the water. Not dark and muddy, but something to offer more cover for the fish and easier access for the angler.
“Most areas of the country get a good amount of rain in the spring,” Hite says. “The fresh water coming into the lake, especially in the backs of creeks or bays, will draw fish in. Little secondary points where a creek channel runs against the point is great, too. Those are great areas to use the JackHammer.”
Hite also warns that too much rain is not good for your shallow water bite.
“If your lake gets a cold, heavy rain, you don’t want to fish in that area,” Hite advises. “You need a happy medium. The water shouldn’t be cooling and it should be stained not muddy. Make a note to yourself, bass don’t like cold muddy water.”
Hite prefers three color variations for his JackHammer in the spring. Something red, a green pumpkin, and a white or shad pattern. He’ll stick with the light 3/8- and 1/2-ounce models in grassy lakes – he sizes up to a 3/4-ounce model in woody reservoirs.
The proper trailer is very important when fishing a ChatterBait, and Hite prefers a more subtle approach during the spring.
“My go-to trailer is the Yamamoto Zako,” Hite says. “It’s almost like a swimbait profile. It’s subtle, but still large enough to get the attention of both big bass and numbers (of fish). Also, it keeps the bait down. When you use a craw-type trailer with double legs, it makes the lure rise – I want it to stay down and move with a more natural motion.”
Hite finds the late morning to later afternoon to be the best time to target fish in the spring.
“Obviously this time of year you’ll get some early bites, but if I’m just fishing for fun, I’d say be on the water from about 11 a.m. until dark,” Hite says. “That’s the period of time in the spring that fish really move up and are more active, when the water is warmer.”
If you want to use the same gear B. Hite does to sling his ChatterBait, then you’ll need a 7-foot, 3-inch heavy-action glass Evergreen JackHammer rod paired with a Daiwa Tatula Elite reel in the 6.3:1 gear ratio spooled with 20-pound Sunline SC Sniper fluorocarbon line.
“For me, the glass rod is really important for hooking up with the JackHammer,” Hite says. “The action of the glass rod not being as fast as most graphite rods allows for better hookups with this lure.”