Classic Early Season Blades with Micah Frazier

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Micah Frazier at the 2016 Bassmaster Classic – photo by Dan O’Sullivan

by Dan O’Sullivan

The springtime can be a dynamic time to go fishing.  Now, that statement would likely lead most of you to read that “springtime is great fishing.”  While that is true, the word dynamic does not necessarily mean “good,” instead, it has more to do with change, typically ongoing change;  “adjective dynamic (of a process or system) characterized by constant change, activity, or progress.”

The factors that work together to build towards the spawn – one of the best times of the year to go fishing – also combine to create some difficult conditions for anglers to combat in the weeks leading up to the actual spawn.  Unstable weather, dramatic temperature fluctuations and heavy rains can often lead to anglers being unable to pinpoint fish at times.

Spinnerbaits account for a lot of Micah Frazier’s Early Season Success

Bassmaster Elite Series pro Micah Frazier from Newnan, Ga. responds by trying to stay on his toes and have presentations at the ready that allow him to move quickly while covering water effectively.  “It’s a tough time of the year, and while you need to be able to move around, you can’t fish too fast,” he said.  “It’s a weird compromise, but you have to cover water and still give the lure plenty of time in the strike zone, and I really like a spinnerbait as a tool for doing that.”

In particular, Frazier chooses the Mann’s Classic and muddy Water Classic Spinnerbaits.

Where to Search
The assumption is that bass begin to move shallow as the water begins to warm, or that the longer days with more sunshine cause the migration.  Whatever the reason is, bass seem to know that their biological need to spawn is approaching and they begin to set up in preparation for the spawn.  In most instances, whether they are year-round shallow water residents, or they move up before most anglers realize; there are a healthy population of fish in the shallows – even in cold water.

Micah Frazier Holds a Nice largemouth taken from great early season spinnerbait water

Frazier said the key to finding the best areas is to search for the right kind of cover leading into spawning areas, these are his favorite types of areas for the spinnerbait.  “Anything that gives the bass hard cover to relate to and will help warm the water are the best things to search for,” he said.  “I like to find rocky banks, floating docks that have the black floats on them and shallow points and bars that have little rocky knobs or piles on them.  These all warm faster than other areas, and hold bass during their migration.”

Why a Spinnerbait?
A spinnerbait, because of its design allows it to be used around cover, and it throws vibration into the water at any speed; which can really help call fish to it.  While a crankbait can be excellent in cold water, the fact that it carries two treble hooks make it less than ideal in some situations.  Whereas, a spinnerbait can be effective in many scenarios.

The makeup of the lure is why Frazier feels it presents the best option.  “A spinnerbait can be fished effectively at any speed or any depth, and can be made to crash into cover without fear of getting hung up” he said.  “It all depends on the conditions as to which lure you choose, but find the right combination, and you can be in business.”

Choosing the right combination is made by examining the water conditions.

Mann’s Muddy Water Classic Spinnerbait

The Right Combination
Frazier lets the water color, temperature and depth dictate the color, size and blade combinations he chooses.  As a rule, the shallower he is fishing, the lighter the head size he chooses.  As he goes deeper in the water column, the heavier he goes.  If the fish are ultra-shallow, he can go as light as 1/4-ounce, and he will go as heavy as 3/4-ounce if the water is deeper than 10 feet.  If the water is lightly stained, he will select shiny metal blades; typically in a nickel / gold combination.  If the water is heavily stained, he turns to painted blade models in the Classic series, but if the water is muddy, then he turns to the Muddy Water Classic which features a florescent red kicker blade that helps fish hone in on it in the low visibility.

The actual lure color is also dictated by the water clarity.  In lightly stained water, he will select white skirts and heads, in heavily stained water, chartreuse and chartreuse and blue factor more, and in the Muddy Water series, all of the skirts are chartreuse and white, but he will play with the white and chartreuse painted main blades to see what draws the right kind of response from the fish.

“Mann’s has done a really good job of giving us a lot of great combinations to work with,” he said.  “I just have to experiment a little to figure it out, but they’ve given me everything I need to be effective.”

His final consideration is to add a trailer to the lure.  He prefers to use the smaller, twin tailed trailers that comes in the package when he is throwing lighter models, or fishing faster.  If he is going to an upsized bait, then he will often go with a five-inch single tailed grub to give the lure a little more lift and appeal to a big fish.

Rocky banks with isolated cover can be excellent for an early season spinnerbait

Blade Gear
Frazier said that he tends to go stout with his gear to handle heavy fish in shallow water.  “I have to get control over these fish as quickly as possible to keep them from gaining an upper hand on me,” he said.  “Having the right kind of tackle to handle the job is important.”

He selects a 6’9” to 7’ medium heavy action Fitzgerald Stunner Series rod depending on his proximity to the targets.  If he is making precise casts close to cover, then he chooses the shorter model, longer for making longer casts.  He pairs his rods with a 6.5:1 retrieve speed Team Lew’s LTE reel spooled with 20-pound-test Sunline Sniper Fluorocarbon.

Closing Advice
Frazier said that it is important to figure out the cadence of the retrieve in order to match the conditions.  “I try to match my retrieve to the conditions,” he said.  “Slow in cold water is best, and I speed up as the water warms throughout the spring.

“Don’t be afraid to beat the paint off the head when slow rolling it in the early season, the fish will really respond to a slow, thumping spinnerbait this time of the year.”