By Billy “Hawkeye” Decoteau

As the water temperatures start to settle into the 55-65 degree range everything within the underwater aquatic world seems to be working towards their annual migration habits. “One factor most bass anglers do not consider into their springtime bass equation is the migration of one of a bass’s favorite health food choices crawfish,” advises Bassmaster Elite Angler Mark Menendez, who holds a degree in Fishery Biology. (
“In the northeast sections of the United States, especially within the glacier lakes where there is an abundance of gravel and rock formations, crawfish will start to migrate towards the shallows at just about the same time the bass do,’ says Menendez. According to Menendez gravel and rocky bottoms leading into shallower water become underwater highways for these crustaceans. “The average size of crawfish this time of year is within the 3” range, dark shades of green and brown are prominent in most cases.”
Although it has been documented, ‘Springtime Bass’n’ most likely is a prime time to land the ‘Bass of a Lifetime’; it can also be one of the most frustrating and unproductive seasonal transitional periods for bass anglers as well! “Spring cold fronts especially in the northeast is Mother Natures way of testing our patience and persistence as Bass Anglers”…………chuckles FLW Tour Series, and Lake Champlain Champion Pete Gluszek of Mount Laurel, New Jersey.
Connecticut’s Jess Caraballo an FLW Pro Angler is quick to agree, “One day you think you have the bass patterned on either a crankbait or jerkbait technique, as they move shallower towards spawning flats, and the next day they seem to disappear all together?”
Ranger/Evinrude’s Pete Gluszek believes bass are in three different zones. “In this ‘Bass’n Equation’ we have stable temperatures within the water column, registering temperature ranges of 55-60 degrees with a high in extreme shallow back bays reaching a possible 65 degrees on warm sunny days! But, add in a cold front to this and that 65 degree temperature drops instantly to within the 55-60 degree range!” (
Obviously the five-degree temperature difference is a major blow to those bass we patterned earlier in the warmer shallows…………so where do they go? “According to Skeeter/Yamaha’s Mark Menendez once the crawfish begin their slow crawling parade to the shallows, the bass are close by.” Menendez concludes bass take up residence in deep water, shallow water and occupy what he refers to as ‘funnel feeders’, nomad bass that are on the move within the water column. For these reasons, Mark Menendez highly recommends anglers utilize a crayfish scent. “I always apply a coat of BioEdge Crayfish scent, and suggest anglers do the same. When bits are few and far between BioEdges’s 100% natural crayfish oils can change a fishless day into a productive day on the water!” (
The front deck of Andy Vallombroso’s bass boat, just might reveal the secret to where these disappearing bass take residence? “I believe Menendez’s theory wholeheartedly, and bass angler’s need to realize that all of the bass within a body of water do not spawn at the same time!” Reaching for a Power Tackle SPN 43-70 spinning Rod spooled with 8lb Seaguar fluorocarbon line, Vallombroso opened his closed hand slowing. “Most anglers only utilize ‘Hair Jigs’ after ice out, but I can tell you they work tremendously this time of year as well!” ( “One other very important factor is shallow bait fish,” adds Vallombroso. “I scan sunny shallow sandy bare banks looking for baitfish.”
Vallombroso is a smallmouth expert and a ‘Master’ at tying Hair Jigs! (Visit Vallombroso’s web site @ In his Nutmeg state of Connecticut, Andy spends enormous amount of time on Candlewood Lake a pristine smallmouth and largemouth highland reservoir situated along the Connecticut New York border. “I believe smallmouth bass will move towards the shallows before the largemouth’s do, and to me a key water temperature is 56 degrees.” Concentrating on water depths ranging from 8-10’ Vallombroso monitors his Lowrance HDS sonar electronics looking for steep rocky banks close to the spawning area, when the reaction bite from faster moving baits seem to disappear.
“My go to bait is a 1/8 oz Silver Fox Rattlin Hair Jig made out of real Fox hair, I never attach a trailer and I utilize both round and football jig heads,” claims Vallombroso. Logging his jerkbait bass suspended over 10-15’ of water and holding in the 8’ range, Vallombroso works his lightweight Silver Fox hair jig in a shaky worm fashion in and out rock and gravel bottoms barely moving his hair jig with his extremely sensitive Power Tackle rod in a hook setting position. “It’s imperative that anglers utilize fluorocarbon line for this technique!” Vallombroso utilizes 4-6 lb Seaguar TATSU Fluorocarbon line. (
California’s Matt Paino of Optimum Baits ( is an expert when it comes to incorporating the Japanese Finesse version of the Shakey Head Worming technique! “My years of worm fishing experience, has taught me there is no wrong way to present a plastic worm!” Then with a bass-eating grin, “However, I’ve also learned that there are certain techniques that will out perform others, especially during seasonal transitions as in this scenario!”
Living in Japan Matt observed the studious tactics applied by competitive Japanese bass anglers in their efforts to improve their presentations in the most natural way possible. “The Japanese have created a technique they call “INCHI WACKY” or translated meaning “Jig Head Wacky!”
Two of Japan’s Top Bass anglers have fined tuned this technique to perfection, Takuma Hata of Zappu Inc. and Toshiro Ono of Jackall Inc. Paino claims the key to success with the Jig Head Wacky technique is in the rigging. “When rigging the worm, it is vital that you position the hook by inserting it in the middle of the worm and have it exit at a 90 degree angle from the insertion point. The worm will then be fixed tight on the hook allowing the worm to be presented more naturally with a very irregular enticing action.”
When it comes to choosing jig heads Paino says the V-Shape angled hook on the Zappu Tungsten Jig Heads not only keeps the worm permanently anchored on the hook, but the angle of the line tie coupled with the sensitivity of Tungsten aids in detecting both bottom cover and subtle bass bites.
“This technique is absolutely awesome when applied to rock piles, drop-offs, vertical structure points and especially in deeper locations when bottom contact is imperative.” Matt Paino suggests anglers choose worms that are balanced, since the technique requires impelling the jig in the center of the worm. As for jig head sizes, this west coast finesse angler relies on Zappu jig head weights of 1/32 to 1/16 oz more often than not. “There are times in deeper situation when I will turn to a 1/4oz head, but I’ve learned from the Japanese this technique works best with the lighter head weights.”
So which worm does this Japanese Finesse Shakey Head Worm expert prefer? “Optimum Baits has designed a complete Rabbit Fur Series of worms specifically for the “INCHI WACKY” technique, my go to bait for this scenario would be the 4” Teaser rigged Wacky on a Zappu Jig Head. But, I will also have two other rods rigged with different Zappu jig head weights. One with the Rabbit Fur grub and the other with a Rabbit Fur 4” straight tail worm rigged Texas style for the traditional Shakey Head presentation.”
Pete Gluszek has a change-up deliver of his own he refers to as ‘Power-Finesse’ ( for these tough conditions. “This is the time I will turn to lighter weight casting jigs with spider grubs and work them along deeper tapering banks covering areas between vertical banks and 45 degree banks up to the spawning flats. The bass are most likely spread out since they have not committed themselves to the spawning flats, so it’s important to cover lots of water, while concentrating specifically on rocky bottoms!”
Gluszek’s arsenal consists of his lighter weight offerings tied to fluorocarbon 10-15 lb test line spooled on a baitcaster, saddled to a Rogue 7’ extra heavy rod. ( Monitoring his electronic this Buckeye Lures Pro Staffer ( is constantly looking for isolated cover. “Isolated cover in the form of rock piles, wood and brush piles or possibly deeper grass patches are bass magnets for Big Bass!” This is when the FLW Stren Series Lake Champlain Champion turns to utilizing larger jigs to fill his livewells. “I’ll utilize the same Rogue 7’ extra heavy rod with 12-15 lb fluorocarbon line tied to either a 3/8 or 1/2oz black or brown jig and dissect the isolated cover from every angle until I entice the bass to eat.” If the water is clear, this Evinrude Pro Staffer turns to a Green Pumpkin jig, while all of his jig presentations are paired with matching plastic pork trailers.
The next time you’re pounding the shallows and your bass have disappeared, try pointing your bass rig in the opposite direction, down size your presentation, add BioEdge Crayfish scent and start “Rubbing the Rocks”!
God Bless and Best Bass’n