Yamaha Pro Ish Monroe holds up a buzz bait he likes to use to try to catch larger bass in the spring.
Buzz Baits, Frogs Work Well For Shallow Spring Bass
Bass tournament veteran Ish Monroe normally doesn’t have trouble catching bass in spring; his dilemma is deciding whether he wants to catch more fish or fewer but larger fish. Thus, the Yamaha Pro always has two different lures ready, a plastic floating frog and a buzz bait.
“Topwater fishing can be exceptional during the spring spawning months when bass are in shallow water, but buzz baits are sometimes overlooked as a choice because you don’t get as many bites with them,” notes the California-based pro who’s fishing both the Bassmaster® Elite and FLW® Tour circuits in 2011. “Frogs are also surprisingly good spring lures, and normally bring a lot of strikes but often from smaller fish.
“If I can throw a buzz bait, I’ll normally use it because I can cover more water with it, and while I may only get six or seven bites all day, they’ll usually all be from larger bass.”
Several other factors also determine whether Monroe uses a buzz bait or a frog, including both weather conditions and the cover available. A weather change that requires fishing slower favor the frog, which, because it floats, can literally be left motionless on the water. Likewise, because they’re weedless, plastic frogs are an easy choice when fishing thicker vegetation.
“If bass are located along the outside edges of cover, or if I’m fishing submerged vegetation, I’ll usually choose a buzz bait because the noise of the rotating blade brings fish out of the cover,” explains the Yamaha Pro. “During the pre-spawn weeks, I’ll reel a buzz bait very slowly but later during the post-spawn, I’ll fish it much faster, ripping it through balls of fry where the bass hit out of pure reflex.
“I use either a 1/2 or even a 5/8-ounce model because it makes the most noise, and the only two colors I use are white on sunny days and black on cloudy days.”
Conversely, a frog is more subtle, and Monroe, who has designed one of the most successful plastic frogs now on the market, uses the lure not only around thicker cover, but also when he is forced to fish more deliberately, such as after a weather front or in heavily-pressured conditions.
“Very often during a four-day tournament, the fish don’t bite as aggressively on the third and fourth days because they’ve already seen a lot of lures and they’re more wary,” he explains, “so I can twitch the frog several times and then just let it sit motionless for a few seconds before moving it again. You can reel a buzz bait slow, but you can’t stop reeling because it will sink.”
Because he’s targeting water five feet deep or less, Monroe fishes both lures on long rods and with braided lines that allow him to make longer casts. Since braid doesn’t stretch, he not only gets solid hook-sets at a long distance; he can also bring bass out of cover more easily. With the buzz bait, he doesn’t even set the hook when a fish hits; instead, he just keeps reeling and allows the bass to hook itself.
“Even though they’re totally different types of lures, both will certainly attract big bass,” concludes the Yamaha Pro. “With a frog, I’ve weighed in a lot of five-bass, 25-pound catches that I’ve caught in just an hour or two, and with a buzz bait I’ve caught individual fish weighing eight, nine, and 10 pounds.
“They’re both easy and fun to use, too, so that’s why I always have both ready this time of year.” Y