Bass Fishing Tips: VanDam Looks for Dogwoods, Mimics Nest Robbers

When spring rolls around, pro angler Kevin Van Dam looks on the shoreline for clues to catch more bass. Here's what he looks for and how it makes that intel work.

Bass Fishing Tips: VanDam Looks for Dogwoods, Mimics Nest Robbers

Veteran pro angler Kevin Van Dam looks for blooming dogwoods in spring when he's seeking bass on beds, and has three specific baits he uses to try to catch them. (Photo: Alan McGuckin)

Unless your favorite fishery is clearer than Sprite, you probably can’t see for sure if bass are actually on spawning beds. But Kevin VanDam says if you see dogwood trees blooming along the shoreline, you better start casting ultra shallow, because there’s a super high chance your local largemouth are making babies.

“I don’t care if you’re in Michigan, Missouri, or somewhere in between, I’ve always said if the dogwoods are blooming, then you can pretty much bet the bass are spawning,” says the Team Toyota angler.

Moon Phase and Water Temp Matter too

“Dogwoods are an easy indicator, but you need to pay attention to the moon phase and water temperature too, especially the moon phase,” VanDam said. “Water temps can fool you a little, because I’ve seen bass build beds in a pretty wide range of water temps. But if you have either a new moon or a full moon, and the dogwoods are blooming, you can count on bass spawning.”

That means you need to keep an eye on the moon phases. Plenty of apps are available for weather conditions and moon phases, giving you more information at your fingertips.

The Ideal "Nursery" for Largemouth 

Van Dam starts in specific areas when he's looking for bass to target if he's sight-fishing.

“You need to do a little map study, and focus first on the shallowest and flattest creeks, pockets, coves and bays on the northern shorelines," he said. "Most people know bass build their nests shallow, but the importance of pockets and creeks on the north side of the lake gets overlooked. And those are really key because they get blitzed by warm sun, and they’re protected from cold north winds."

Three Lures That Work

“Just about every lure I use when I know bass are on beds mimics bluegill, because bluegill and other small species of sunfish love to eat the eggs of largemouth. I call them ‘nest robbers’ – and obviously bass are trying to protect their eggs and fry, so they try to eat the small sunfish,” Van Dam says.

“If I was going to choose three lures to cast when the dogwoods are blooming it’d be a Strike King Caffeine Shad, a 4-inch Texas rigged Strike King Game Hawg and a swim jig – and every one of them would be the colors of a small sunfish."

Van Dam also likes to add a bit of chartreuse dye to the tips of the lures to help them resemble the lighter-colored fins of a sunfish. But mostly, at this time of year, VanDam’s eyes are always searching for pink or white dogwood trees.

Alan McGuckin is Director of PR for Dynamic Sponsorships, a Tulsa-based company with clients including Toyota, Carhartt, Quantum Fishing and others.

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