Sinclair’s Fast-Forward Bass Fishing
Aaron Batson predicts early spring weather will speed up the bass and shad spawns.
If ever there was a spring to be thinking ahead, it’s probably this one. It’s not supposed to be 85 degrees in mid March. There’s not supposed to be this much pollen this early, and I can’t ever remember the woods being quite so green before turkey season started.
However, Aaron Batson, of Oxford, has a fishing plan to counterbalance the odd spring—he’ll be doing some fast-forward bass fishing in April. In other words, his fishing strategies and techniques will be geared more toward a late April and May pattern.
I always enjoy listening to what Aaron has to say when it comes to fishing. I’ve been in the boat with anglers who have fished the Bassmaster Classic, guys who have made multiple trips to BFL’s All-American, and over the years I’ve taken notes from the back of the boat as more than 30 anglers have fished GON’s Eliminator tournaments.
I’ve seen a lot of stuff, so I can say confidently that Aaron, who cut his teeth on Oconee, Sinclair and Jackson, is one of the best tournament anglers I’ve ever been in the boat with. Why? There are several reasons, but I believe one of his best attributes is that he is so good at adapting quickly to new situations.
New lakes? No problem. In last year’s Eliminator tournament at West Point, he beat three locals on his way to another championship match. He’s also won Eliminators on Hartwell and Clarks Hill, two lakes he’d never seen. Aaron has made three appearances in Eliminator championships, and he’s won two of them. His overall Eliminator record is 19-2, by far the most impressive in the tournament’s history.
This year Aaron hasn’t been competing as much on Sinclair in the Berry’s and Oconee Marine trails. Instead, he’s putting most of his focus and vacation time into fishing the Bassmaster Southern Opens. His next tournament is at Lake Norman in North Carolina April 5-7.
Still, don’t expect Aaron to be completely absent from fishing Sinclair this month. He enjoys the lake but says he’ll be fishing it differently this April than any other April he can remember. That’s OK, though, because like I said, Aaron is very good at adapting quickly.
“With the extremely early spring, I have seen the lakes and patterns progress much faster than ever before. I believe the bass spawn is already in full swing,” Aaron said in an interview on March 21.
“April will be more of a postspawn month, where normally it is the month to sight fish for bedded bass. Also, the annual shad spawn is about to bust open any day now. I am already seeing and hooking shad very shallow at daylight right up tight on seawalls. The shad spawn is normally a mid April through May event. By May, I think the shad spawn will be over and done.”
The next time you’re on Sinclair, be there at daylight and look for flipping shad on rock or woody banks.
“I’m not normally going to look for the shad-spawn bite in the very back of a pocket,” said Aaron. “I look inside the mouths of a creek or on the main lake. It’s going to be strange, though. You got bass coming off the bed and shad spawning all at the same time. It might become a back-of-the-pocket thing because that’s where the bass are at. This spring is different.”
Expect to see shad spawning on any hard bank, but bass won’t be in every school of spawning shad.
“Ten years ago everybody didn’t have a seawall along their banks. Now the lake is full of seawalls, and that has scattered the fish. Just keep covering water until you find the bass feeding in one of these schools,” said Aaron.
On Aaron’s front deck will be rods loaded with a Net Boy Baits swim jig, an Ol’ Nelle spinnerbait, a floating worm and a Fluke for fishing the shad spawn.
“I get in parallel with that seawall and cover water,” said Aaron. “If I go down a stretch that’s 50 yards and the bass are still there, I’ll turn around and go right back through it. On the first pass, you may whack them on a spinnerbait, and they might get used to it. Go back through with a swim jig. If they’re still there again, go back through with a floating worm.”
For skirted baits, he likes white or shad colors for clear water and adds chartreuse if it’s stained. Both baits are 1/4-oz. in size. In stained water, Aaron’s spinnerbait will have double Colorado blades. When it’s clear, he’ll run a small Colorado with a No. 4 willowleaf blade. He likes to experiment with painted blades. When I fished with him, one of his spinnerbait blades was a clown color that he really liked.
When fishing the swim jig through a school of shad flipping on the banks, he pumps the bait in between cranks. The hopping motion will trigger more strikes.
“The shad spawn can last up to an hour after daylight,” said Aaron. “After that, look for bass on secondary points in the 5- to 10-foot range. Fish docks, seawalls, grassbeds and blowdowns. You’re just fishing visual cover.”
Aaron said soft plastics will be the key for the April postspawn bite. He’ll have two rods loaded up front all day. One will be rigged with a Net Boy Baits jig, and the other will have some type of soft plastic on it. He said anglers can pick and choose their favorite plastics, and all will catch postspawn bass.
“You can flip a Brush Hog or Paca Craw, but I still love a straight-tail worm. A Trick Worm or a Senko on a Texas rig or jig head is just hard to beat for numbers and sometimes quality,” said Aaron.
While Aaron was in Florida for the Bassmaster Open on Harris Chain, he bought a bag of floating worms made by Bitter’s Best Value. Their floating worm is called the Magic Wand. Aaron brought 10 bags home and has been using them to catch bass at Sinclair.
“They have an unbelievable selection of colors. These are colors you don’t really see people fishing with around here,” said Aaron. “If you break them apart, you can see the salt in them, and they have a licorice smell to them. Plus you get two bags for $5.”
Aaron is fanatical about colors. He tries to fish with something a little different than his tournament competitors, which is why he also keeps every color of J.J.’s Magic in the boat. He’ll dip all his plastics in the scented liquid.
“It’s great stuff for soft plastics,” said Aaron. “I’ll take like a scuppernong worm and dip it in chartreuse. It doesn’t really change that scuppernong to a chartreuse color, but it gives it almost a purplish-green color. It’s an off-the-wall-looking color. Along with the colors, I think the scent helps.”
When pitching plastics, Aaron uses a 1/4-oz. tungsten weight.
“Compared to a 1/4-oz. lead weight, it’s half the size,” said Aaron. “And you can feel better. You can feel the bottom, feel if you’re on rock or sand.”
For even greater sensitivity while pitching soft plastics, he likes a heavy-action, 7-foot, 6-inch Duckett rod.
“These are the first high-end rods I’ve ever dealt with, and I do like them,” said Aaron. “I like the sensitivity and the (light) weight of the rod.”
When he’s flipping a jig under a dock, he likes 20-lb. Stren Original in blue.
“When I’m flipping a jig, I’m flipping it close,” said Aaron. “I want 20-lb. in case I need to wrestle one out. I like blue so I can watch for any tick, any movement left to right.”
On his rod that’s loaded with the Magic Wand or some other soft plastic, he’ll have it spooled with 15-lb. Seaguar fluorocarbon.
“I’m still flipping that soft plastic (at close ranges under docks), but there are a lot of times I’ll make a long, Texas-rig-type cast over a point or in a brushpile. I like a little more feel to the line.”
Finally, don’t be surprised to see bream on the beds in April. When I fished with Aaron, we saw bream already in a foot of water. When the bass get on a bream pattern, transition your baits over from whites to greens.
“I had a big morning last year (May 7, 2011) on a green-pumpkin swim jig at Sinclair,” said Aaron. “It took me a while to figure it out. I threw a white swimjig, spinnerbait and buzzbait and then went to a green-pumpkin swim jig and just smashed them. I believe they went to a bluegill pattern at that point.”
Aaron takes the Net Boy Baits green pumpkin or black/blue swim jig and tips it was a green-pumpkin chunk. He dips the little tips in J.J’s chartreuse.
“I think that is a very good bluegill imitation swim jig to throw around bream beds. Throw out, and just twitch it along,” said Aaron.
To follow Aaron on the Southern Open, go to www.bassmaster.com/open. To purchase Bitter’s plastics, go to www.bittersbaitandtackle.com.
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