How to Find and Catch Pre Spawn Bass
The first order in catching pre spawn bass is being able to find them - so I’ll get straight to that task first.
Finding bass during the pre spawn period can be a challenge for bass anglers anywhere in the country. However this stage of the spawn offers one of the best opportunities of the year to catch those really big bass.
On lakes and reservoirs, I always begin my search for pre spawners by first determining what part of the lake the fish are most likely to be in a pre spawn pattern. I’m looking for water temperatures in the low 50's to low 60's.
Water temps on most large lakes or reservoirs vary from one section of the lake to another as the season progresses and so does the spawn. On large bodies of water It’s very possible to have fish in all three stages of the spawn on different sections of the lake at the same time.
The shallow or upper end of the lake normally will warm first; so bass there will be the first to go into a pre spawn pattern. So in early Spring, I will begin there. If it’s later in spring I may start looking for those 50 to 60 degree temps on the lower end or mid part of the lake.
Once I determine what part of the lake has the water temps I’m looking for, I begin by looking for bass migration routes. Migration routes defined as it pertains to bass fishing, is a route bass travel from the deeper water winter holding places to the shallow water cover or structure.
Normally a migration route consists of a ditch, creek channel, point, weed line, road bed or some other structure that leads from deep water to shallow water spawning areas. For example a creek channel leads from the main lake and progressively shallows as you move back toward the back end. The back of the creek or shallow pockets on the sides of the creek may be good spawning areas and the creek channel would be the route bass travel from the shallows back to deeper water wintering areas.
Once I locate a likely migration corridor that leads to a shallow cove, flat, or other good spawning area, I decide whether to start looking for fish in the shallows or on the deeper part of the structure by taking in to consideration the weather conditions. If the weather has been warm and stable for several days, I will start looking for bass on the shallow part and work my way toward the deeper end of the structure keying on any cover such as weeds, stumps, rocks or brush within or on the migration route.
Keep this in mind when looking for pre spwan fish
The smaller male bass have the responsibility of preparing beds for the bigger female bass to lay her eggs. So they will normally be the first to move up into the shallower water. On warm days they will move up and begin cruising the shallows looking for places to build beds while the big females lay back in the deeper water. As the season progresses and water temps warm, the females will also move up into the shallows and cruise as they prepare to go on bed. But if the weather turns nasty i.e. a strong front rolls in; all the pre spawn fish will usually draw back into the deeper water. And wait for conditions to stabilize.
How to catch bass in pre spawn
While bass are generally active and ready to feed during this time, several factors may come into play in catching them.
Choosing the right lure
Again weather plays a huge role in how bass may react to your lure and your presentation during the pre spawn.
If you are at all experienced in bass fishing you probably know that cold fronts and unstable weather can have a very detrimental effect on bass activity.
The pre spawn takes place in early spring in most parts of the country; and this time of year is notorious for unstable weather. The weather is always my first consideration when choosing a bait.
If the weather is stable and warm, I’m expecting bigger fish to be cruising on or near the spawning area’s in shallow water. I will normally start in the shallows with a bait that I can fish fast and cover lots of water.
Everyone has a favorite bait and you should have confidence in any bait you use. But this is a whole other can of worms that I’ll get into in another post.
In this particular situation, I start with a soft plastic jerkbait and try other baits if needed. I move right into the spawning area and fish any visible cover and work my way back toward the migration route.
Now, if I’m faced with adverse weather-a front. I expect the fish to be holding in deeper water on the migration route but near the spawning area. In this case, I would normally reverse my method. I start on the deeper part of the migration route with a bait that can be fished slowly on deep water structure. My personal favorite pre spawn bait for this situation, is a carolina rig with a plastic lizard. I position my boat parallel to the migration structure and cast across or to it and work my way toward the spawning area.
My goal of coarse is to is to pattern the larger fish. Once I figure out what they are doing I can fine tune my bait and presentation to what is working best.
The pre spawn is a very exciting time of year for most bass fishermen. It means that the end to winters slow deep fishing is near, and it’s an opportunity to catch the bass of a lifetime. And if you’re armed with knowledge of how bass act during pre spawn, it ups your chances of catching them tremendously.
Good luck with your pre spawn bass fishing.