Bass spend most of the spring in or near shallow water. They spawn in the shallows when the water temperatures are in the low-to-mid-60s and then begin filtering away from the shoreline. However, bass anglers should begin their search for bass in shallow bays and coves that have abundant, shallow cover. Key areas are vegetation, boat docks and timber that overhangs the shoreline or that has fallen into the water. Bass will hold tight to the cover on sunny days and will roam away from cover during the morning and evening and under low-light conditions. Begin by casting a quick-moving bait, such as a spinnerbait, to try to locate active bass. If bass refuse to hit such lures, slow down and fish with a plastic worm or tube jig. Pitch these lures into and right around shallow cover.
Given that the early summer is a transition time for bass, some fish will be in between the places they spawned and the places they will spend the summer. The most common places are just outside of spawning areas in about 4 to 8 feet or water. Look for cover or structure like the first drop-off, vegetated flats and inside weed edges. Irregularities in these areas–such as where a hard bottom meets a soft bottom, or where there is a rock pile in the middle of a weed flat–will hold the most fish. Search for active fish in these areas with a quick-moving lure, such as a spinnerbait or lipless crankbait. If you find a concentration of bass, or the bass simply refuse to hit such lures, slow down and fish with a plastic worm or tube jig. Fish these lures along the bottom, particularly in high-percentage spots like the irregularities mentioned above.
Female bass, which grow larger than male bass, do not stay in the shallows for long after they spawn, heading instead to deep water to recuperate. As a result, there can be some fish in deep water during the early summer period. While there likely won’t be many, some anglers prefer to target deep-water areas in the early summer, because if they catch a fish, it likely will be a large female. The best areas to fish are developing weed lines in 10 to 20 feet of water. Deep-diving crankbaits are good options for finding active fish, but keep in mind these fish are in recovery mode and might not eat a quick-moving bait. Another good option is to tie on a 1/8- to 1/4-oz. mushroom head jig and thread onto it a 4- to 7-inch plastic worm. Bump the lure along the bottom as you retrieve it.
Topwater baits can be productive all day long during the early summer period. While anglers should not plan to fish topwaters all day, it pays to have a buzzbait or popper tied on and to cast it from time to time. If the bass are willing to hit a topwater bait, you will know quickly. Topwaters are a favorite of anglers, because they often elicit aerial strikes from bass. They also are known as a big-bass lure.
Bass in the shallows are feeding bass. And during the early summer, the shallows are full of food. So even if your initial foray into shallow water does not produce fish, do not give up on it. Go back to it several times during the day–especially in the morning and evening, or when low-light conditions prevail–and fire a few casts with a spinnerbait or lipless crankbait. If you time it right, you could fill the boat with bass. Spend enough time on a particular body of water, and you likely will notice patterns of when bass make movements to shallow water.