Pre-spawn fishing is prime time for targeting some big bass! They are at their seasonal heaviest, they are up shallow, and they can be highly aggressive. If you get on the right school, you can have a day to remember. The flipside of this coin is that pre-spawn bass can be tough to figure out as they constantly move. Add rapid weather and water changes in the spring, and you get yourself a rewarding quest.
Here is a quick rundown on where, when, and how to quickly and efficiently find and target bass during pre-spawn.
Pre-spawn Fishing - When
In Florida, you may see spawning activity as early as November or December. In Minnesota, you’ll still find bass on beds in July. For that reason, it’s better to focus on water temp trends than a specific calendar date.
Bass typically start moving up to their pre-spawn locations as soon as the water temperatures start their first prolonged climb. In the north, this might mean a rise from the low thirties into the mid-forties, and in the south, it might only be a rise from the forties into the low fifties. The key is to watch the weather and get ready when you get that first prolonged period of pleasant weather.
Pre-spawn Fishing - Where
In natural lakes, ideal pre-spawn locations are grass lines, points, and any other structures close to the shallow spawning flats. These areas often become well-known community holes, and pre-spawn bass move up onto them to feed before going to bed. In reservoirs, ideal pre-spawn haunts are the creek channels, ditches, and drains that lead back into spawning areas.
Most reservoir bass winter in deep water, and they use these features as migration highways on their way to spawn. In rivers, pre-spawn bass hang all over rocks, wood, and points outside of typical river spawning areas like bays, marinas, and backwater lakes. River bass don’t like to spawn directly in the current but will stay in it until they go to bed.
How To Catch Them
One of the biggest keys to unlocking pre-spawn bass is to put your time in on the map study before even getting on the water. If you have a good contour map, you can quickly identify creek channels, ditches, and drains to focus your efforts. You can use aerial photography like google earth to locate backwaters and grassy flats from the summertime in a lake or river system and focus on them before the grass comes up.
Once you’ve identified an ideal location to search, the key is to start with reaction baits like Lady Bandit on a Corkscrew Rig to cover water and hopefully get a few bites. Once you locate an area producing fish – you can then slow down and seine it with slower presentations like dragging Lollypop Rig or Larva on a Dropshot.