Home Fishing Tips Fishing with Johnny Johnson – Square Bill Crankbait for Pre-spawn Fishing

Fishing with Johnny Johnson – Square Bill Crankbait for Pre-spawn Fishing

Fishing with Johnny Johnson – Square Bill Crankbait for Pre-spawn Fishing

There’s one. Little buck bass right there. [laughing] Right there on that little flat. That little indention. Boy, you talk about a little one now. Little Apache Lake Bass. Come on in here buddy. Alright, you’re done.

On a square bill, would you believe it or not? We have a little bit of breeze here. I just pulled up. It’s springtime, the fish should be moving up. Water temperature is coming up at Apache Lake.

And it’s so beautiful. But the water is kind of murky, so it’s hard to see. Certain areas are clearer than others, but with a little bit of breeze like this, you get up in the shallows and kind of parallel the bank a little bit and just try to get up in there.

Throw a slow running, little tiny crank bait– little square bill– and you’d be amazed what might happen this time of year. Water temperature’s coming up every day. Fish are moving up to the backs of these cuts.

They’re here. It’s just a matter of seeing if we can get anything of size off of it. If not, then we might have to go to worms or something like that. Cause you know the bass are moving up shallow. Something to really pay attention to this time of year: We had a lot of rain.

We had a lot of weather come through. A lot of storms coming through. So what’s gonna happen is, is these creek channels and stuff might be running. If they’re running, it’s a good source for fresh water coming in– aeration.

. And fish will migrate towards that kind of stuff. We’ll move back here, see if there’s any water movement back here in this little cut. We’re back here up here towards the dam. See if we can get something rolling here.

This time of year you don’t have to worry about fishing 40 ft. of water. You know? You want to get up in the shallows. Those fish are moving up. This kind of bait’s a lot of fun to throw.

You want to make sure you throw the right size line with it. I’m throwing a, you know, a 10 pound test line. You can throw a 12. I like the 10 on these littler baits. You get something a little bit bigger, then you can go something a little heavier.

I want to get the maximum depth out of it. I still want to get it down there and I want to bump a rock or two if I can. I picked the shad color because the water, even though it’s a little bit dingy, it’s more of a cloudy color.

It’s not a– it’s not a mud color. It’s more of a cloudy color. So they can still see those whites real good. The shad colors. There’s one. That one feels a little bit– about the same size as the other one.

[chuckles] He whacked it though. He’s a little bit bigger than the last one. Little crank bait Bass. Come on. You done? You done? [chuckles] I barely got him hooked in the back hook. Come on. Look at that.

So we know the crank bait gets ’em. But look at these little buck bass. Wow, I barely got him hooked. What you have to be real careful of, is you want to get down there and get them quick. So you don’t get those hooks in ’em.

Two little buck bass off the crank bait up shallow. So you know that they’re up there. Females have got to be roaming around somewhere. But for a good start-bait, you know, we got a good little start-bait going on here.

We’ll just keep kind of moving down the bank here a little bit. See what happens. If we don’t get anything big then we’ll– we’ll change up and see if we can find something that might get those bigger fish going.

And we haven’t caught any smallmouth either but what we have here, is we have a flat. We come back down this canyon wall and then there’s a nice little flat back in here. So these fish will move up in this flat and spawn.

And that’s where a little bit of that freshwater runs in when everything’s kind of running over. A lot of times what I’ll do is I’ll try to throw right back in there where I caught the little male. Because we can’t see it, but you never know if that female might be kind of lingering around that area.

So I’ll make a couple of fan-casts in there just to see. There’s one. That feels like a little bit better– [laughing] Oh yeah! Ooh! Ooh! That’s a nice fish folks! That’s a nice fish. Got my Taipan cranking rod here.

Oh yeah, come on. You gotta play ’em. Play ’em out. Let him– let him play. Look at the size of that fish folks. He swallowed that bait. [cackling] That’s what I’m talking about son! That’s what you’re looking for.

Moved down the bank a little bit. Oh yeah look at that. [cackling] That’s the kind of fish were looking for right there. That’s the kind. Big ol’ bass. That’s what I’m talking about. That’s why it pays to pick up that little crank bait.

When their shallow, picking up that little crank bait– look at that. Good ol’ 2 1/2, 3 pound bass right there. That’s probably a three right there. Beautiful fish. Oh man. That’s what you’re looking– you know what? Here’s something else to think about: crank-baitin’s a lot of fun to do, and if you get into it where– I gave that– that– that fish an opportunity to eat my bait.

What I mean by that is, I stopped the bait. I was cranking it and then just stopped it. Then I felt him inhale it. And boy I’ll tell you what, soon as that bait stopped– he was probably following it or tracking it– came right up to it– and as soon as I stopped it, had no choice.

He ate it. And uh– so we’ll play around with a little bit of the retrieves and see if we can’t catch fish doing that as well. Coming back to the back of another little cove. Those big females– those– those bigger fish will hang out and not quite move up sometimes.

They’ll be on the outside of beds and kind of hanging out, waiting to move up. Those are the kind of fish I’d like– try to like to catch. You know there’s no secrets, as far as crank baits go, as to the retrieve you wanna– what’s really cool is you can take two of the same guys throwing the same bait.

One guys’ retrieve speed might be a little bit different than the other guys’, and he’s the one catching all the fish. We’ve all had that happen in our boats. So it’s not all just about the crank bait all the time, even though it’s a good deal, but sometimes it’s about that retrieve.

You figure out that retrieve that the fish want, and that’s your secret. And I’m making multiple casts. One thing that’s really important to remember, is fan-cast the area a little bit.

Kind of go out or in, and then work your way out a little bit when you’re paralleling. You never know. Make multiple casts to the area. You know, a lot of it is all about angles, and so as you’re going by an area that you tossed to already, it might not have been the right angle for that fish to want to bite it.

So that’s why you make multiple casts to areas you really feel there might be a fish in. They’ll use this cliff wall right here as a channel way back to the shallows. Got him. Got him. I knew I’d catch him off that piece.

[cackling] Oh! Not a bad little fish. Not a bad little fish. See how we paralleled the bank like that? Look at that! [cackling] That’s what I’m talking about! Parallel that bank. You’re gonna get some fish in the shallows this time of year.

Oh! And you know what is so beautiful to see? Is look how he tried to eat that bait. Alright buddy. Come on. Come on. I’m going to pull him up in here. Kind of lip-lock him here. Don’t ever hesitate with treble hooks.

Once you grab him, you hold him. Lock him good. There we go. Just another buck bass but if you noticed, I threw right alongside. Now what I’m gonna do– is I know we caught that fish, but that’s just the little male– what I’m gonna do is take another toss up in there, maybe a couple of toss, and just kind of see if there might be one more in there that’s willing to bite.

And it could be that big female. So always, after you catch the fish, throw back in there if you get the opportunity. When you pass by the area, sometimes you’re missing the bigger fish. I think the important thing to understand about fishing in the spring, is just because the lake is dirty and you can’t see them, doesn’t mean they’re not there.

You know, always remember that they’re there. You can back way off– your– your catch ratio will be a lot better to, if you’re not spooking the fish. There’s one. Oh yeah! [laughing] Yes, that’s a little bit better– oh! I barely got him hooked! Oh! [sigh] Oh! [cackling] Barely had that fish hooked.

Tell you what, that’s what’s really nice about having a good rod– [chuckles]– that’ll absorb a lot of that fight right there and not pull those hooks out. Yeah! [cackling] Look at that! Well I thought I barely had you hooked but uh, you did the same thing that smallmouth did.

Get it right there in the little– the good stuff. Ha! Beautiful Bass right there. Look at that. Apache Lake largemouth bass. Alright. There you go buddy. Watch.. watch. That’s what happens when you put them back real slow He’s kind of sitting there wondering “what in the world?” [laughs] That is so much fun.

You know– oh! Man! I gotta backoff here. Oh man! You know it is so nice to be in an area– I see big fish right now. I don’t even wanna– I don’t even wanna move. Now we change techniques a little bit.

But I want to get back real quick to the crank bait real fast. It’s very important. You know I’m using Taipan Elite Series cranking rod. And what’s really nice about this rod is it’s got a good backbone but, it also has a good tip on it to where the fish can fight.

A real light tip on it. And you need that, so when the fish is fighting you, and he surges, the tip takes up– you know– that slack for you. Because what ends up happening is– is if you don’t have any kind of tip on your rod– a soft tip when your crankin’– you barely have those fish hooked– when they make that surge, your rod doesn’t bend– Poink! There goes your– there goes your crank bait out of its mouth.

So it’s important to make sure that you get a good little cranking stick for– for these baits. For sure. Oh! There’s one! Yeah! A little smallmouth! That’s what I’m talking about son! Right there in the shallows– in these flats.

[laughing] Oh my goodness. [cackling] Figured I’d come back here and see what’s going on. I’ll tell you what, when you’re moving around you can’t beat that crank bait. Let me tell you. That little square bill gets it done now.

. Up in the shallows like that. Alright you’re done, right? I don’t want to get the hooks in me. I think he hooked himself to where he can’t move. There we go. You double hooked yourself, didn’t you pal? [chuckles] Look at that.

It’s not a huge fish but– tried to get me wet– but just going into this little cut, throwing this around. I’m kind of up in the shallows, trying to look a little, but I still don’t want to discount my crank bait.

You know? You can do a little bit of both while you’re looking. Throw up in front of you and parallel the bank with this thing and possibly catch some nice fish while you’re looking. Usually there’s a big mama in here.

Now don’t forget, this time of year that Senko works good as well. There’s a couple of different baits you can throw in this stuff and have a ball. A wacky Senko a– you know, anything like that.

There’s one. Good one! Oh! Oh that’s a good fish! Oh! That’s a monster bass! Ah! I lost him! I knew it! Ah! [up-beat country music] Hey folks, for my Tip of the Week, one thing that you can do when you’re hitting flats like were hitting and then you hit the little– what I call divots– and what I mean by that is you’ll be tossing in 3 foot of water, 2 foot of water– and all of the sudden you’ll come to someplace that’s got maybe 5 foot of water and you still want to throw the same crank bait– the trick is, is you throw it out there in that little divot and just drop your rod tip down in the water about a foot or two.

You can even get down and do what we used to call kneeling and reeling. But if you dip your rod into the water a little bit, that bait will get down there a little bit deeper. Because you really don’t need to go to a bigger crank bait if you going to stay on the flats.

Right? So just for that little deeper spot right there– those little divots– you can just drop your rod tip down in there and get it down in that little channel there. And uh, you’ll still be able to use this bait and catch some fish on it.

Get a little more depth out of it. But that’s my Tip of the Week. [Jet plane in the background]. There we go– There we go. There we go. Oh! Oh! [cackling] That one’s not a bad one. Alright dude. He just realized: “I better start fighting”.

I’m gonna let him fight after that last one I lost. I had to try and muscle that other one out of the weeds, and that was a monster, but this one I don’t. Ooh, I barely got that one hooked with one hook.

Ah! [laughs] Figured I’d better just get him in. [chuckles] Little male Bass. We’ve had a lot of fun fishing these things today, I’ll tell you. Big ones are moving up but I’ll tell you what, there’s always another method of catching fish besides just worming.

And in the shallows like this– that– since they come out with this square bill, it’s a lot of fun because you can get up in real shallow water and uh, throw these things. And that’s what makes it fun.

In 2 foot of water. You know? Sometimes you have to throw it slow. Sometimes you gotta burn it. And sometimes you just gotta run it and then pause it. Run it and then pause it. And it’s just something that you have to play with, and each fish is different.

Once you get on a pretty good little cadence that catches them on a regular basis, then you can help yourself a lot that way by throwing it the same way every time. And once in a while you change it up but– and I’ll tell you what, one of the biggest mistakes that folks make– and I’m the same way– is we get to fishing too fast.

We start fishing real fast if were not catching fish. It doesn’t hurt to even slow these down a little bit. Let them ricochet off the rocks, and you know– give those fish a chance to grab it. [laid back guitar music] [cackling] That’s what I’m talking about son! And when you get up there where you can see them, look what’s available.

[chuckles] You thought you were hiding from me, didn’t you? Come here buddy. [chuckles] Little site-fishing Bass! Love it! Let’s get him back real quick. Beautiful fish. That’s a big male. See ya buddy.

Oh I went to just a little 6 inch white lizard so I could see it up in there. And uh, couldn’t stand it no more, you know? I love to site fish and that kind of stuff this time of year. I know the water’s a little bit murky, but you get into some of this real shallow stuff, you can find them.

And that’s what I did. I gotta retie that but– I’ll tell you what, I’ve had a great time on the show today. Don’t underestimate, in the spring time– any time of year to be honest with you– but basically in the spring– I know a lot of people like to get up shallow and look and see– and I love to do it too– but when there’s just not an opportunity for it, and you know like Roosevelt– lakes like this are muddying up because all the wash coming in and uh the ol’– I’ll tell you I– Crank baits are the way to go a lot of times.

They got a little rattle in them. And you just use the right size crank bait for the depth of water you’re fishing, and you’re going to catch a lot of fish on them. Trust me. Play around with your uh, retrieve and uh, see what works for the bass and get out there and catch them.

Till next time, we’ll see you on the water, I’m Johnny Johnson.


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