Baits to look at, you want baits that are big, noisy, and can imitate the forage for this time of year. Cause I don’t know about you but I want big bass and lots of them. So let’s break it down from top of the water column to the bottom:
The first foot of water is what I classify as top water/wake baits, I am using buzz baits, shallow cranks in shad colors or brim, large swim jigs, swim baits, big jerk baits(this includes large flukes, large soft plastic paddle tails and floating worms) spinner baits and my personal favorite frogs. Fish these baits when the bass are moving to the flats and or actively feeding on the surface, when they are doing this you need to match the “hatch” so the name of the game is shad. Shad colored baits with lots of noise to get the basses attention, fished usually with some pauses will trigger big time strikes.
From a foot to 3 ft. off the bottom is my mid range, cranks, spins, swim baits, lipless cranks and jerk baits will kick this area when you need to get those suspended fish onto your line. Colors you will look at are shad, craw, brim, and fire tiger. Rip the bait through the schools of bait or through brush and grass to get reaction bites. Rattles help when it is low light or muddy water.
Dragging the bottom is next and can be very productive. Again cranks and spinner baits can be very productive but here you will throw salamanders and worms in the 8 to 10 inch range, craws, large jigs and the none productive senko, watermelon red flake, wacky rigged and thrown near timber will not produce here whatsoever. Any color that is active this time of year in your area will work great, add a rattle to the soft plastics to add attraction, and bump the bottom and structure slowly to trigger the strikes.
This is also the time of year when run off and rain can muddy the waters. Many will turn tail when they see waters looking like a chocolate milkshake but this is when you can use large dark baits, usually black or purple with lots of motion, rattles or clanking noises to make bass find the bait. It is imperative for long casts with a steady retrieve to allow the bass to home in on the bait and get to it. So that ugly rattletrap with what seems like a maraca band inside of it is great for this type of water to really get the basses attention. Also paddle with care many of the impoundments we fish have submerged something or other and with muddy water you might not be able to see a tree top 3 inches under the water, so take your time cause speed in nasty conditions is not that important.
Safety this time of year is still thinking about cold water still, so wear your cold weather gear and have a plan in case things get nasty. Get out there and go fishing this is a great time of year to also get the arms ready for the rest of the year and to scout out where the bass might be bedding, with knowledge and understanding you can have a successful trip. Tight lines