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Spring Spot Patterns | Print |  Email
Written by Dave Rush   
Saturday, 05 March 2011 04:45

A lot of tournaments take place during spring on beautiful Lake Oroville in Northern California, and years of fishing them has taught me a lot about how to pattern the lake's prolific spotted bass population. Even if you don't fish tournaments, read on, because these locations and baits make for a fantastic day of fun fishing, too.

Normally, during late March, Oroville's water is on the rise. From the middle of February through March, we get a lot of incoming water, which in turn raises the lake anywhere from six inches to two feet per day. This effect helps drive fish to the bank.

Potent Patterns

When trying to establish a spring pattern, I like using spinnerbaits and ripbaits to target the largest main-lake points I can find that lead into the major spawning coves. I'll continue back into the cove, as well, fishing the first two or three secondary points within it. If nobody's home, I'll move to the next major point.

By searching these points, I'm trying to locate fish actually staging for the spawn, and they can be in water as shallow as one foot, or as deep as 20. They move a lot more than people realize, which means you might slay them in one cove during practice, but come Saturday, they've vanished. Faced with this situation, I assume the fish either moved back out to the main-lake point, or from one point to the next one down. Needless to say, always have plenty of backup plans.

Another pattern that commonly develops is, if we get a few solid days of hard rain, I'll grab that same spinnerbait and fish inflowing water. I don't necessarily move way back into the canyons; I stick to the main lake, running up and down looking for flow. This incoming water is warmer, which is always key during spring, plus it's off-color and nutrient-rich. The bait gets around that water real good, and the bass are never far behind.

There are times I'll check flowing water in the backs of coves, but it's usually in the major creeks like Potter's, Canyon and McCabe's. These areas are big enough that resident fish live there year-round, and those resident fish will move to the very backs. For the most part, though, I'm fishing main-lake stuff until late April.

Any time you're fishing Oroville, if you're not getting bit, move. Ounces separate winners, and catching a larger fish usually comes down to catching the most fish possible. Move and target active fish for your best shot at a kicker.

Great Baits

Over the years, I've been able to establish a pretty good base of baits and colors that seem to work well year after year. I like 3/8- or 3/4-ouncer VPR Little Big Men and Kanji Zen spinnerbaits. If the water's fairly clear, try nickel-gold combination willow-leaf blades. The best colors seem to be shad patterns with just a hint of chartreuse.

If the water turns little off-color, I switch to gold blades with a white or chartreuse-and-white skirt. On cloudy days, I do like throwing colored blades, either white or chartreuse, but if the sun's out I stick with metal. And it pays to keep both sizes rigged up. When fishing running water, for example, I like to throw the 3/8-ounce model, letting it flutter and roll down the current. A few minutes later, I might throw the heavier model to a point.

My ripbait choices include Bomber Long As, Suspending Rattlin' Rogue, and Lucky Crafts, in colors similar to the spinnerbaits.

For those who would rather take a more relaxed approach to fishing, try a small worm on a splitshot rig. Fish this around and the big, main-lake points I mentioned, or in the backs of the coves, and wait for the fish to move in and out. Sooner or later, you'll start waylaying them. Try 4-inch Roboworms in colors like Aaron's Magic, Mohave Oxblood and Warmouth. If the water's clear, Morning Dawn can be excellent. Also try fishing a Roboworm Zipper Grub on a darthead jig.

If you're traveling to Oroville, a good place to headquarter is the Best Value Inn in downtown Oroville, (530) 533-7070. If you need to hire a guide, I recommend Larry Hemphill, (530) 674-0276. For tackle needs and fishing reports, visit Oroville Outdoors, (800) 727-0555. For vacation information and area attractions, contact the Oroville Chamber of Commerce, (800) 655-GOLD.


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