The spring fishing season on the rivers can be extremely challenging at times. There are a multitude of issues that can arise that will make those days on the river seem extra long. You can always find a list of baits I use on the "Reports" page, but I wanted to take the time now and give you a list of my 5 favorite baits to use when the water is still +/- 50 degrees.
In no particular order-
1) Booyah Baits Pond Magic- I like this bait to fish in deeper waters. It is effective from both a kayak and fishing the banks this time of year. I prefer the "Shad" color and to fish it slow and low.
2a) Terminator Lures Weedless Football Jig- This is a great option for half of the "pig and jig" technique which I really have had great success with in lakes and reservoirs this time of year. I like it in the Pumpkin Brown Black pattern and is great when fished along steep drop-offs and banks.
2b) Gary Yamamoto Flappin' Hog- This is the soft plastic creature bait I use in tandem with the weedless football jig. The action on it is aggressive and irritates the heck out of smallmouth. It is extremely soft and pliable with a good overall durability to withstand multiple strikes. The black blue flake pairs great with the jig I suggested above. (pack of 7)
3) Lucky Craft Pointer 100SP- This is a great crank bait that is versatile enough to fish long after the water warms up. I like this model for the rivers I fish because it swims at a depth of 4-5 feet. I like the Pointer 78SD for larger bodies of water like Prettyboy Reservoir where you might be required to fish deeper drop-offs. This time of year, I still like a slower retrieve because it gets that side to side motion going. Ghost and Sexy Chartreuse patterns work well.
4) Case Plastics Jack's Worm- When the water is calm and clear, these plastics have produced year in and year out for me. I rig them wacky style on a straight worm hook size 2. This is one of the most active baits I've seen in the water and smallmouth love these. I cast at a 45 degree angle upstream and let them drift in the current. A little jerk here and there when you are in "the zone" doesn't hurt. Green Pumpkin Flake
5) Rapala Skitter Prop- I like this lure when the sun starts going down. This time of year fish are hungry, but are still looking for an easy meal. Topwater action might not be what it is in mid-August, but you can still catch them using this tactic if you use the right lure. This lure isn't as aggressive as a popper and imitates a frightened baitfish trying to evade another fish. Cast along the shore and retrieve slowly for best results. The Shad color works well.
I hope you found these tips useful in planning an upcoming trip, or perhaps you've even had success with the same products. The bottom line is, when fishing this time of year, fish slower than you would in the next few months.