Big lakes often get all the publicity in the spring, but to get a jump on the action and catch more largemouths, try a smaller pond. Bass start feeding in ponds early in the spring and you can often catch more than on a big lake. And your chances for a wall-hanger are much better.
Ponds warm faster in the early spring than bigger bodies of water for several reasons. Their size protects them from wind stirring up the water like it does the bigger lakes, and shoreline trees often give even more protection. Less mixing of the water from wind allows the surface of the pond to warm faster and stay warm.
Shallows in ponds often have dark bottoms from sediment and this absorbs sunlight to warm the shallows faster. On big lakes waves usually washed away the darker sediment, leaving sand and gravel that does not absorb heat as well.
Most ponds have more shallow water relative to size than the bigger lakes, so they have more area to warm more quickly.
Finally, vegetation growing in the shallows help absorbs heat, adding to the warming. All these factors mean ponds warm more quickly than bigger lakes.
Bass respond to warming water in ways to make any fisherman smile. As soon as the water starts a warming trend and gets above about 50 degrees the bass go to shallow water and feed. This movement makes them much easier to catch on a variety of baits and they are feeding heavily.
To catch these early spring bass, target water less then 6 feet deep. Don’t hesitate to cast right to the bank in less than a foot of water. Bass get in water that barely covers their backs this time of year. That is where the water is warmest and the bass are most likely to find food.
Fish all shallow water in a pond. On the first warm days in early spring the bass might move into contact with the bank near deeper water at the dam. After two or three days of warm sun they are in shallows far from the deeper water, often in the very far upper end of the pond.
Any kind of shallow cover will hold bass. Target early growing vegetation, old weeds that have not rotted away, brush, trees in the water, overhanging bushes and rocks. Bass tend to hold tight against cover, but are willing to ambush any bait fairly close to them. Your cast should be past the cover, and then bring your bait back by it.
A spinnerbait is hard to beat in the early spring. Use a fairly small bait like a 3/16-ounce bait with a willowleaf blade and a smaller Colorado blade. Colors depend on water clarity, but a standard that works well is a chartreuse skirt with one gold blade and one silver blade. Adding a curly tail trailer gives it more action and allows you to fish the bait more slowly, too.
The reason a spinnerbait is so good is you can fish it at any speed and fish water from the surface to the bottom. On warmer days buzz the bait just under the surface, reeling it fast over any cover you see. For a change-up stop the bait and let it fall by a stump or other wood cover, then start reeling it fast again, if a bass has not already inhaled it.