Spinnerbaits Are Prime Lures For Spring Bass

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Here in Northern California on our clear water lakes and reservoirs, there is no doubt that day in and day out finesse tactics account for large numbers of fish. However, there are times when you would be better served to put away your soft plastic baits and shift into power fishing mode.

Right now is one of those times. This winter’s El Niño-driven storms have produced rain unlike we have seen in recent years. Creeks swollen with run off are pouring into our lakes. The incoming flow of water is not only warmer than normal, but also has the added effect of muddying up the water, creating an ideal environment for throwing “blades”.

Following a recent storm, I made a quick trip to Lake Oroville. When I arrived at the lake with my fishing buddy, Ian Rigler, I was excited to see that the water had a nice stain, not muddy, but off colored. Just the conditions I had hoped for.

On the drive up to the lake, Ian told me that he had never caught a bass on a spinnerbait. I found that a little hard to believe considering the amount of time we have fished together. It became my mission for the day to get us on a good spinnerbait bite and to help Ian put his first “blade” fish in the boat.

We started the day up in the Middle Fork, fishing little pockets and cuts. I was throwing a white 1/2oz. Pepper Custom Baits Open Water Assassin. As the name implies, the Assassin is designed for fishing open water. Instead of the standard fixed hook, it features a free swinging Gamakatsu feathered treble. This configuration improves the strike to land ratio and results in more fish in the boat.


Not only is it important to have a good quality spinnerbait that is designed for the task at hand, but it is also important to match it with the proper tackle. Over the years I have become a fan of using fiberglass rods for fishing moving baits. I have found the Cousins Tackle FRB 733PT, a 7’3” medium heavy action rod to be the ideal choice. I match it with a 6:3:1 reel filled with 15lb. Sunline Super Natural Monofilament and I have the tools to handle all of my spinnerbaiting.

Back to the fishing, which started off rather slowly until we made our way to the back of a deep pocket with a water fall spilling into the rear corner. Within a dozen casts, I connected with three nice spotted bass all in the 2lb range. We continued to bounce around the Middle Fork until mid morning, putting several more fish in the boat. Unfortunately, Ian had not yet gotten bit on the spinnerbait.

On the way back to the ramp, we ran wind blown points on the main body adding a few more fish to the tally. Desperate to get Ian bit, I ran to a big pocket above Foreman Creek. Immediately I had a fish connect with my spinnerbait and then it happened. Ian’s blade got smashed and he was hooked up.

After a spirited fight, Ian’s first ‘blade fish’ was in the boat. A quick photo and the fish was released back into the lake. Mission accomplished. Once the ice was finally broken, Ian connected with several move fish before we decided to call it an early afternoon.

Even as the waters clear, good spinnerbaiting continues. With many lakes at full pool and spilling, newly flooded shoreline cover offers excellent opportunities for a well placed spinnerbait.