Pre Spawn Search – Part 2 – By Jason Houchins
This leads me to another bait of choice this time of year, a creature bait or jig. There are a ton of different kinds that all seem to work well and as long as it’s in some shade of green pumpkin or dark color, I’m sure it will be effective. Personally I like the baits that are compact and bulky this time of year, like a short fat guy. I have done very well with this size and style of bait during this period. I am partial to a beaver type bait using a 3/8 ounce bullet weight with a 2/0 strait shank flipping hook. For a jig I really prefer a 3/8 ounce flipping jig tipped with a small matching chunk. You can also put these two together and make a nice compact jig/creature combo. At this time I don’t want a ton of action, I just want an element of subtle surprise for a reaction. I also want it to look like a good meal, not just a snack. I like to spool a high speed reel with 17-20 lb. 100% fluorocarbon line. I like to go heavier with these lures, so I opt for at least a 7 foot rod medium heavy action with a fast tip. I try to follow the fluke with this type of presentation, especially after I have had one chase a fluke. This one two combo can be a huge time saver especially when there are thousands of bushes to pick through.
If the bushes are letting you down and the fish just don’t seem that committed, then turn to some rip rap or rock banks for a possible early shad bite. This is my absolute favorite way to search for, and catch pre spawn bass on Buggs Island. I have lived and died on this pattern in many tournaments in the past and will most likely do the same thing many more times. I will say it’s not nearly as consistent as it was a few years back but on certain days it will not be beaten. You just need to look for the right conditions for this to be effective. The right conditions should always start with some wind, and a little cloud cover never hurt either. Right before or after a cold front, it can be really good, especially with a brisk wind.
Of course you can use several different baits; crankbaits, swim baits, and rattle baits to name a few. But let’s face it nothing says shad like a good ole spinner bait. I personally am in love with a spinner bait, or blade as I call it, just caught way too many fish on this lake with it not to throw it religiously. You can also cover every depth by only changing up your retrieve or weight of your lure. My favorite is a 3/8 ounce white, chartreuse, with some blue in the skirt and double willow leaf blades. I really like the smaller blades this time of year with one gold and one silver, I also want a pearl white grub trailer. If the water is stained I will switch to a tandem or even an Indiana blade, but I still want small. As we all know there are many different spinner baits out there and most of them are pretty good. Just pay attention to the wire size because it will affect vibration and strength. Something else I never do and frequently get asked about is a trailer hook. I say that’s a personal preference, I get hung too much with it myself, but I get called crazy a bunch too. I like to use 15-17 lbs 100% fluorocarbon line with a high speed reel. I want a medium heavy action rod with a moderate tip, I want backbone cause I really set the hook with a blade.
End of March and early April is most of the time a pre spawn deal on Buggs Island Lake. Sometimes it will be longer and sometimes shorter depending on the weather. For some fish it will last until May others will spawn the minute the moon is right and water temperature is 62. One thing is for certain there is no one pre spawn season the same on Buggs Island Lake. The fish can get real finicky depending on their mood and I think they really get in a funk just before the spawn happens everywhere. These are just some things that work for me, but I always encourage to do your own thing. I have heard of so many things being effective this time of year, yet never consistent. The pre spawn is a real wild card on this lake and the bass can change quicker than the conditions. Please keep an open mind during the pre-spawn and remember you need to change with the fish.