It’s that time of year again. The time where our fishing family in the southern-most parts of the country are gearing up to locate spawning fish while our brothers to the North are still iced in! Nevertheless, whether your time is now or yet to come, it’s time to be thinking about bass migrating toward spawning areas in one way or another. It’s big fish time! This is typically my absolute favorite time of year to fish, and I hope we can at least cover a few tips to get you headed in the right direction.
It’s important to understand two things; 1) fish typically winter in the main lake and creek channels where they have abundant deep water, and 2) fish are going to meet their natural urge to spawn in shallow creek-ends, flats, and bays. “Pre-spawn” could refer to the migration of winter bass toward these shallow areas and your goal is to target any area in-between the two! In most reservoirs, the hotspots tend to be main-lake points, secondary points, and any cover or structure along those areas. These fish are going to use brush and docks on these staging areas to, well, “stage” on their way to the bedroom. Spawning will present a very exhausting and physically demanding time and they know it, so this is the time for them to feed up and get their bodes in order to prepare for that.
There is a certain category of baits that are engrained in my head known as “pre-spawn baits”. They are my go-to lures because they make covering water easy in order to locate fish, and the fish just tend to like these baits this time if year. Year-in and year-out my number one choice for catching pre-spawn fish is a double willow spinnerbait. It has the flash for those sunny days that simply triggers these fish into biting, as well as the ability to cover shallow to medium depths. Another popular option that can take it’s place is a bladed jig, like the Z-Man Jackhammer paired with a Yamamoto Zako swimbait. For more structure oriented fish or in areas where grass is the primary cover (hello, Florida friends) it is simply hard to find a better pre-spawn bait than a lipless crankbait! And last, if I have fish located and they have tuned off due to pressure or weather, I will no-doubt have a jig ready to drag through as slow as I can.
One thing to remember, is these fish are moving. If you catch a fish, mark the spot as it tends to remain a great staging area for other fish that may be later to the party and it will re-load as spring moves along! This is a phenomenal time of year to see any lake’s potential at a large stringer of bass!