Where did the Bass Go? The Pre-Spawn Migration
Now that the calendar pages have flipped over to spring, it is the season to fish along primary points and to mid depth cover and steep vertical banks and drop offs in search of big pre-spawn bass. “Where did the bass go?” is the question that I hear anglers asking after having a great day on one day and then nothing the next. When you can’t find the bass in this season, it is because they are moving. The big ol’ females are or soon will be heading toward a spawning flat. Just like I discuss in my daily tips, as the water temperature rises into the 60-62 degree range, these ladies are in the mood for romance and are following the contours from the deep water main channel to the backs of the creeks. A square billed crankbait can get to the target depth where the big bass are moving through these areas feeding in preparation of the spawn.
Until last year a square billed bait that would dive deep enough and stay in the strike zone lone enough didn’t exist. Getting into the strike zone and staying there from six to twelve feet was impossible for round billed baits that would dive to the designed depth and then immediately begin the climb back up to the boat. The square bill dives to the target depth and stays there all the way back to the boat. It is at these depths that the transitioning bass will be looking for pre-spawn forage as they migrate from the main lake to the spawning flats. This technique is now possible with the Bomber Deep Square Lip. Bomber has combined the classic Fat Free Shad body with a special square-lip bill that deflects the cover of wood and rocks along the migratory routs while staying down. The design is even snag-free as it keeps its nose down while moving through the water. This position keeps the hooks behind the body of the lure and keeps them from hanging up. The crankbait is excellent for fishing mid-depth cover and structure for pre-spawn bass.
Productive anglers record and remember where spawning beds are located, which gives them a distinct advantage when fishing during the pre-spawn migrations era. When fishing from a kayak on a small private lake or from a Nitro Z9 in a major reservoir, anglers make the most of this season by fishing the deeper channels leading into these shallower areas where they locate bass quickly. If the channel has a sharp bend or even better a hump bass will be holding there. A point close to a spawning flat is another hot spot for pre-spawn bass, while in deep reservoirs that are often void of cover may pattern differently, as bass will spawn on ledges or shelves along the steep ledges in creeks. Pre-spawn bass will almost always migrate to these deeper areas near their spawning grounds as they wait for conditions to become suitable and stable for the spawn.
Bluffs that stair-step beneath the water’s surface are extremely productive structure to find bass because they offer bass a variance of depth for foraging and cover. As bass transition before the spawn they use the contours of the bluffs as travel routes from deep water to shallow. Find a bluff that’s drops quickly to a deeper channel and usually you will discover an important factor in fishing. Finding the correct depth on this type of structure is vital. If you’re not fishing the correct depth, you are only wasting time. The best anglers can fish the industries hottest and most productive lure but if he’s fishing it at the incorrect depth, he will not catch bass. However fishing a common lure at the correct depth and anyone can catch bass.
It can be difficult to provide seasonal tips that can be applied by anglers in every region, but one pre-spawn through post spawn tip is to learn as much as you can about the electronics you have and use it to read the lake looking for structure like drop offs or break lines and humps near spawning flats that provide cover. Like bass, the baitfish will also relate to the structure and cover and bass will not be far away. Even if you fish from the bank there are things you can do to find structure such as study lake maps, view your waters on Google Earth online or download a cell phone app that has maps for your lake. Then on bright sunny days work the depth of the drop off, and on overcast days’ work the top of the break near a spawning flat to find the big girls that have not moved up in search or romance and to spawn. Please fish responsibly and practice catch and release on spawning bass so to sew a seed for tomorrow.