Searching for Spring Bass Menendez Style

Submitted by Full Limit Outdoor Media

One of the things that has always intrigued me about pro anglers is their ability to find fish on foreign bodies of water in short order. Catching them during the tournament has always been what makes headlines, but that has always been secondary to finding them in my mind. It can be hard enough to pin them down on your home pond when you haven’t been in a while, much less a body of water that you’ve never seen.

With that in mind, I took the time to probe the mind of Bassmaster Elite Series angler Mark Menendez on his fish-finding formula. Being as how Mark and I live on the same lake, the information could have been considered reconnaissance, but for the sake of this article, let’s call it education.

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Mark is fresh off of a top 12 at the last Elite event on Winyah Bay in Georgetown, SC. Despite the fact that he and I were generally comparing notes on the TN River, and by comparing I mean he was talking and I was listening, Mark also ended the conversation with a statement that led to this writing. “You know, all this stuff that I’ve learned on the TN River is relevant most everywhere we go. It is exactly how I found and caught the fish that I did at Winyah Bay”. Basically, Mark had divulged his blueprint for finding fish in the spring of the year on a variety of fisheries. Here it is….

“The first thing that I’m going to do is look at Northeast banks in major coves and bays. Not only do these banks get the most sun exposure, they are also typically the most protected from harsh north winds. This tends to make these spots places where bass hit the bank first in search of bedding locations.”

“Secondly, I’m trying to find water that is at a minimum of 55 degrees. That will usually be found on the aforementioned banks. 55 seems to be the magic number for the buck bass to head to the banks. Look at it like this, the boyfriends are up scoping out a destination for a date. Where the bucks are, their lady friends won’t be too far behind.”

“Third, I’m really looking for a certain bottom composition. On the TN River we have what’s called “Tuscaloosa Gravel”. It is evident of a place the offers a prime spawning bottom. It may be different other places, but there is typically a consistent denominator in good spawning areas throughout a body of water.”

“On KY Lake, the water doesn’t typically rise until April 15th, but like everything else, that can vary from year to year. The rising water signals the bigger females head towards the bank.”

Here are 3 distinct “KY Lake scenarios” that Mark mentioned that coincides with this season of the year.

  • “If the water is still cold (less than 55) and just starting up, I’m going to primarily cover water with a Red Eyed Shad. Often, these prespawn fish will react very favorably to red. I’ll rely primarily on a ½ oz., but if I need to fish deeper, I will use a ¾ quite a bit as well.”
  • “Once the rising water hits the yellow flowers it’s game on! This can be a really fun time to fish as the fish can be really aggressive when searching out spawning areas and clearing them of predators. I really like either a ½ oz. Chartreuse/White Hack Attack spinnerbait, or a 3/8 Hack Attack swim jig (either white or black/blue depending on the water) paired with a Rage Craw as a trailer.
  • “When the water gets in the bushes it’s flipping time! I often use a one-two punch of a ½ oz. black/blue Hack Attach flipping jig with a Rage craw trailer and a 4” Rodent in Bama Bug behind a 3/8 oz. Tour Grade Tungsten weight. A little something to remember is that the big girls often relate to willow trees that are in and around the bushes more than the bushes themselves.”

So there you have it. Mark’s game plan for finding concentrations of bass in the spring time from prespawn to spawn. It works on KY Lake, the TN River and apparently Winyah Bay. I’m willing to bet that it will work at a lake near you!