UPCOMING EVENT: T-H Marine BFL - 2019 - Lake Okeechobee

FISHING LEAGUE WORLDWIDE

Thrift’s 3 Go-To Spring Baits

Bryan Thrift

Spring has officially begun, and for the majority of bass anglers across the county that means it’s time to start wetting a line. Though this is the time of year that many dream of, it can also present its own set of challenges depending on where the bass are in the spawn cycle.

For starters, there’s a pile of bait options when it comes to catching bass in the spring, which is why sometimes the smartest approach is to keep it simple, according to 2017 Pennzoil Marine Angler of the Year Bryan Thrift. We asked him to share his favorite bait for each stage of the spawn.  

 

1. Prespawn

Thrift has a knack for cashing checks on the FLW Tour, and with that he’s developed confidence in certain baits to put bass in the boat. No matter the time of year, Thrift will have a 4-inch Damiki Stinger tied on. When the trees start to blossom it becomes a major player in his arsenal.

“For me, the Stinger is my ultimate confidence bait,” says Thrift, who credits that bait for much of his success in 2017. “I like to throw it wacky, on a shaky head or on a Carolina rig. The nice thing is that every fish in the lake will bite it.”

Thrift uses the Stinger to target prespawn fish congregating around structure such as points, ditches and humps near spawning areas.

“When it comes to staging fish a lot of them are relating to the bottom, and that is where I’ll throw the Stinger on a Carolina rig or shaky head,” says Thrift. “Even if the fish are finicky they’ll still eat this bait, so it’s nice because you can target active and non-active bass.”

He likes natural colors such as green pumpkin purple and watermelon candy in almost any conditions.

“As you get closer to the spawn, that’s when I like to throw it wacky,” Thrift adds. “I’ll blind-cast down the middle of a pocket while I cruise down the side looking for fish on beds. I’ve caught a lot of fish I didn’t even know were there doing that.”

 

2. Spawn

When love is in the air and bass begin their annual rituals of the spawn, Thrift changes gears.

“One of the best bed-fishing baits I’ve used is a Damiki Air Craw,” says Thrift, who uses the 3-inch bait for smallmouths and spotted bass and the 4-incher for largemouths. “It has little air pockets in the claws, and there’s something about that bait that makes fish get real aggressive toward it.

“For bed-fishing, I like to rig the 4-inch model on a Texas rig with no bobber stop, a 1/2-ounce weight and a 5/0 Berkley Fusion19 EWG hook. Without the bobber stop, you can flip the bait in the bed and give it some slack, and that 4-inch Air Craw will float up off the bottom. A lot of times that drives them crazy.”

Thrift keeps several colors of the Air Craw on board for sight-fishing.

“I like a dark color, a natural color and white for my baits when sight-fishing,” he says. “You’ve just got to see which color triggers them.”

 

3. Postspawn

After the spawn is when Thrift’s preference shifts from soft plastics to more aggressive offerings.

“One of my favorite baits in the postspawn is a Damiki Rambler,” says Thrift, who likes the real shad color. “A topwater is great because postspawn fish might be in 10 inches of water or 30 feet deep. With the Rambler you can cover the whole water spectrum, and especially in clear water they’ll come up from deep water to hit that bait.”

Postspawn bass can be willing to commit to a topwater basically all day, allowing Thrift to cover the majority of the water column and a large area in search of active fish.

“The nice thing about fishing in the springtime is that the biggest majority of fish are in catchable positions, and 90 percent of the time they’ll bite if you get your bait in front of one,” Thrift adds.

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