By Craig Lamb

Mark Menendez of western Kentucky and Kyle Monti of south Florida are natives of polar opposite types of bass fisheries, but their goals during spring are equal. Namely, to track down and catch bass migrating into shallow water to spawn. These pros’ tips for doing just that can help you dial into the bite, no matter where you live.

TOP PROS SHARE SPRINGTIME BASS TIPS  Mark Menendez of western Kentucky and Kyle Monti of south Florida are natives of polar opposite

Mark Menendez

The dynamics of intercepting bass on the move can get complicated when springtime cold fronts slow or even shut down the migration. That makes knowing how and where to begin your pursuit, along with choosing the best lures and techniques, the key to success.

“I like to target big bass, those big females that are the most prized fish of all in spring,” explained Menendez, who along with Monti belongs to the Skeeter Boats Pro Staff.

The veteran Bassmaster Elite Series pro should know. Menendez once caught a largemouth weighing 13 pounds, 9 ounces, that broke a 24-year-old record for the largest ever caught in a B.A.S.S. tournament.

In recent years the vibrating, bladed jig has been in the spotlight as a favored bait for finicky bass. Menendez believes the lure has a proven reputation, but he prefers what has unfairly become a throwback lure, the spinnerbait.

“A spinnerbait with big blades is easier to control, and you can move it through cover much slower than a vibrating jig,” explains Menendez. “A spinnerbait is also more weedless, and you can deflect it off of and penetrate inside the cover.”

TOP PROS SHARE SPRINGTIME BASS TIPS Mark Menendez of western Kentucky and Kyle Monti of south Florida are natives of polar opposite

To begin with, Menendez favors a 1/2-ounce Strike King Premier Plus Spinnerbait with No. 4 leading and No. 6 trailing double Colorado blades. Alternatively, he likes the same model spinnerbait with blades of similar sizes in a Willowleaf/Colorado blade configuration. Favorite colors are white/chartreuse and black, depending on water clarity for the head and skirt; copper is a preferred blade color.

“It’s all about the blades, and the double Colorado is ideal in stained water, and the other is better for clearer conditions,” advises Menendez. “With this big profile bait and large blades, you get more flash and vibration that make it stand out to a big bass as an easy meal.”

A bulky ribbon-tail shaped trailer that makes it look like a struggling gizzard shad makes the blade stand out. Menendez says big females bulk up on food during pre-spawn in anticipation of the stress involved in the long migration to and from deep water.

Menendez is a stickler for using a trailer hook and does so with a unique twist. He suggests using a free-swinging hook for a better hooking ratio. A favorite is the unique Rapid Fishing Solutions Hook All Replacement Disks, which provides 30 percent more hookups than a static keeper hook.

Menendez completes the rig with a Lew’s Team Lite Speed Spool Casting Reel, TLL1H model, favoring its slower 6.8:1 gear ratio for slow-rolling the spinnerbait through cover. He spools 17 or 20-pound Seaguar AbrazX on the reel and adds it to a Lew’s Custom Speed Cast 7′ 3″ Heavy Football Jig Rod with a quick tip for accuracy and leverage for fighting big fish.

Primary targets are creek channel bends bordered by shallow flats with isolated laydowns and stumps. The fish will migrate up the channel, using the cover as ambush points when baitfish swim past the shallow water. As water temperatures turn more moderate the fish begin flooding the shoreline, using the channels to reach them.

“The ideal setup is wherever the last deep water is in the creek, where it transitions into a spawning area,” adds Menendez. “The big bass will hold there until the water is just right.”

TOP PROS SHARE SPRINGTIME BASS TIPS  Mark Menendez of western Kentucky and Kyle Monti of south Florida are natives of polar opposite
Kyle Monti

Monti, also a Bassmaster Elite Series pro, is also a guide on Lake Okeechobee. Spring comes early, and the habitat is unique on the south Florida fishery, but even so, his tip can be used anywhere in the country. 

Monti uses a vibrating jig until the water reaches 70 degrees and he then switches to a swim jig, which is more about the technique than the lure.

“As the season transitions from spawn to post-spawn the bass are lethargic and finicky, and a vibrating jig can be too fast,” he explains. “A slow rolled or slowly retrieved swim jig is ideal for those situations.”

Bluegill are a primary reason why Monti likes the swim jig during the spawning period. Bluegills are the primary predator of bass eggs and newly hatched offspring, and the male and female bass will aggressively defend their nesting areas in the presence of bluegill. The slowly retrieved swim jig, in bluegill colors, is a deadly bait during that time.

Over submerged grass, Monti holds the rod tip high while using a steady retrieve to imitate the swimming action of a bluegill. He adds that a white swim jig is also ideal on lakes with a shad spawn when bass move into the shallows to ambush those baitfish during low light, early morning periods. 

These helpful pro tips will have you on the water and on the fish this spring.

Learn More at Skeeter

Original Source: Sportsmans



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