Bass Anglers Are Getting Cranky


The following appears in the March issue of California Sportsman: 

Story And Photos By Mark Fong 

There is no doubt that black bass love to eat crawfish, but in the spring their appetite for these little freshwater crustaceans is at an all-time high. 

Crawfish are high in protein, making them a valuable food source for bass looking to develop their eggs and build their energy stores for the rigors of the upcoming spawn.

During the days when the water is cold, crawfish begin an extended period of inactivity. In late winter, rising water temperatures not only draw crawfish out of hibernation but trigger bass to begin their prespawn activity. This dynamic makes for some excellent bass fishing action for anglers who understand and can capitalize on this relationship.

The longer days and rising water temperatures signal prespawn bass to move into the shallows. At the same time, these fish start to feed less on shad and more so on crawfish. When this occurs, there is no better lure for imitating the movements of a crawfish than a crankbait.



Every spring, bass show up in predictable locations. Points, flats and small cut areas with rock are good places to begin your search. Because the water is cold, you want to work the crankbait slowly, making every effort to crawl the lure over the rocks. Make a long cast and use a slow, steady retrieve. When it makes contact with structure, pause the bait and then start reeling again; this can be a strong triggering mechanism. 

Keep in mind that the idea is to mimic a crawfish as it scurries along the bottom. Experiment with speed and cadence until you find the most productive retrieve.


There are lots of good crankbaits on the market. On my home waters in Northern California such as Berryessa and other lakes, I have had good results with the IMA Pinjack 200. It weighs in at 7/16 ounce, making it easy to cast, and at 2¼ inches it has a nice profile that matches the crawfish found in the region’s clear-water lakes. The Pinjack runs 6 to 8 feet deep and has a nice tight wiggle. I like to throw a red- or orange/red-colored bait this time of year. The hot craw and the delta fire craw patterns work extremely well during the spring. 

I’ll throw the Pinjack on a medium-heavy-action 7-foot, 3-inch Cousins Tackle FRB 733PT Glass Rod. I’ll then match it to a low-profile casting reel spooled with 10-pound Gamma Edge fluorocarbon line.

Don’t miss the opportunity to get in on some great spring time bass fishing. Mimicking a crawfish with a crankbait is a good starting point. CS