Until the water temperature at the surface of a lake or river reaches around 50 degrees, most bass will be inactive. After a few consecutive days of warm weather, water temperatures will rise. Water that reaches 60 degrees will contain feeding bass in the early spring. Focus on the western sides of ponds and lakes where the sun has a chance to warm the water for a longer portion of the day. Remember that the shallows will warm much more quickly than the deeper parts of a lake.
Avoid larger lakes in the early spring and fish small ponds and lakes. These bodies of water typically are not as deep as lakes and will have active bass in them weeks before large lakes will. You can explore a small pond in a short time, with your chances of encountering big bass very good. These ponds often have clearer water, allowing you to use lures such as spinnerbaits and topwater plugs.
Consider the type of bottom where bass want to build spawning nests. The first choice of a bass is a sandy bottom or one comprised of gravel. Completely rocky bottoms near the shore will not attract bass looking to nest, nor will a silt-covered mucky bottom. Study the bottom from shore prior to fishing to determine what its composition is. Try to remember where you caught bass prior to the spawn in years past and concentrate on those areas. The mouths of small streams and creeks that dump into lakes and rivers are a favorite spot for bass to build their nests when the bottom conditions are right.
Smallmouth bass become active before largemouth bass do. The water needs to be around 55 degrees for smallmouth to start to feed in the springtime. You can find these bass in rivers where there is plenty of downed timber or boulders. Smallmouth bass tend to gather in groups in these areas before spawning. Do not worry about snags as the chances of encountering a trophy smallmouth increase with the thickness of the cover. Bring along plenty of jigs and spinners to make sure you have enough in case some are lost in the timber to snags.