“When the water is cold, the bass really seem to prefer a tighter action,” said Mississippi bass pro Pete Ponds, explaining why he commonly cranks with a Bandit Flatmaxx Deep this time of year. The bait’s body shape and the coffin-shaped bill combine to provide the right tight wiggle for early-season bass.

Ponds focuses mostly on rocky areas and pointed toward riprap banks, broken sections of bluffs and shallow roadbeds as examples of good producers. The best areas get plenty of sun exposure, and the bite normally gets better as the day progresses and the sun does a bit of warming.

Ponds likes this approach best when the water is in the upper 40s to mid-50s.

Lure presentation is extremely simple, and strikes are typically light.

“This is one of very few times when I’ll use slow, steady, methodical retrieve with a crankbait,” Ponds said.

Ponds fishes a Flatmaxx Deep on Vicious fluorocarbon, using the smallest size he thinks he can get away with according to the cover and the size of bass he expects to encounter. Generally speaking, he likes dull shad-imitating colors like Louisiana Shad, Threadfin Shad and Silver Minnnow Sparkle best for working rocks this time of year.