Tactics for early season largemouth bass

by Steve Carney
Contributing writer

Thankfully the weather has stabilized here in central Minnesota and it looks like things are back to normal as we enter the beginning of the largemouth and smallmouth bass season. A warm March led to a very cold and wet April meaning the bass spawn was somewhat delayed but as of this current date, things are back to normal.

Follow these tips and tricks and land some fat largemouth bass this season.
Follow these tips and tricks and land some fat largemouth bass this season.

I have noticed because of the bizarre spring, the native weeds along with the milfoil are retarded and not quite up to their normal levels. This may or may not make finding largemouth and smallmouth bass a problem.

Here are some thoughts as we head into the best bass fishing of the season – early spring.


Locational issues

Hard to say where they will be the first two weeks. I have not found bass in the numbers I usually do in May because they were not hanging with the shallow crappies like usual. They may have spawned and headed out to deep water or possibly made several trips in and out because of the weather conditions. Keep an open mind during this late-May early-June period.

I always recommend that anglers start super shallow in the early mornings and look for areas that have shaded banks – this means heading to the eastern or northern sides of your lake choice.

Try and make contact before the sun gets up above the trees. Many times that first hour can be gangbusters. Bass usually have a tendency to linger in these shaded areas for an hour or so most mornings.

Once the shallow bite has slowed, it’s time to head out to the first breakline. On many lakes this means the depths of eight to 12 feet where they have access to both shallow and deep water.

Chances are the bass will be using these medium range depths until we get a series of hot weather days which of course can change their location.


Weeds are key,
as always

The milfoil situation on some lakes looks pretty normal as I have been catching walleyes along these milfoil weedlines for weeks. The bass are just as fond of these areas and they will be easy to fish into early summer as the milfoil lines become much more defined and thicker.

This is target fishing, which means pitching those baits right up against the milfoil “walls” and slowing retrieving back. Many times just pitching up and letting the bait lay idle works wonders as well.

I expect the native weeds (such as coontail and cabbage) to be slow in growing this spring, meaning it will be harder to find. Normally these native weeds are up high enough they can be spotted with dark glasses.

If you can find any sort of weed growth expect both baitfish and bass to be there. Bass are drawn to the native weeds by the baitfish presence as well as the cover overhead, leafy weeds provide.



I love fishing docks. My rule of thumb is to stay away from any docks that have shallow water in the vicinity.

The best docks have overhead canvas covers (providing shade) and always have deeper water underneath.

Docks can be good at all times of the season.

Once you spend some time on the water you will learn the good docks from the bad docks. When you find the perfect dock… watch out!

Steve Carney is a regular contributer to the Outdoors page

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