Tie On Your Rollerskates…
Pack up your gloves and parkas into the attic! Because groups of bass stacking themselves in the shallow water waiting anxiously for shad and other baitfish like never before. This technique uses is a complete proof method that you will get amazing results FAST!
Trying to figure out where the bass are during the spring is the secret to filling your livewell in a hurry.
It’s vital to know that the bass will spawn at different times, however, most will be in their pre-spawn and spawning mode typically from late April to early May, sometimes even into June!
Each day can be completely different from the previous and you have to be willing to throw out the previous day’s strategy.
It’s important to remember that during this “holding/migrating mode”, the bass will change the location and migrate incredibly fast over a couple of days (over even hours).
So it’s important to make yourself very flexible and versatile to change up fishing strategies.
Sometimes the bass are hanging out in 5 to 10 feet, the next day (or even hour) you’ll find a bass have migrated and suspending over 30 ft of water.
Their internal drives to spawn are causing them to stack up and certain locations and feed.
Typically they’ll be located near the mouth of main-lake coves, or located near spawning flats that have near-vertical drop-offs.
If the lake is dingy then the bass will typically hold and 10 to 15 feet of water or possibly even less, whereas if the lake is gin-clear then sometimes the fish can hold in 30 to 50 feet of water.
I Can't Buy A Bite!
An incredibly frustrating situation can occur when you visualize on your sonar that the bass stacked up over a ledge or a piece of structure and you throw a swimbait or a crankbait sometimes you can’t buy a bite.
I know it can be maddening, but it’s important to know that you may need to switch to a smaller finesse rig, such as a small drop shot worm such as a 4in Roboworm, or a Carolina rig with a small grub trailing behind it.
If the morning bite is slow despite you throwing everything in your tackle box, it’s not your fault. The most likely reason is the bass needs to warm up, which means the afternoon and evening bite tends to be more productive.
I know after a cold front has moved through and the next day has bluebird skies, the bass are incredibly inactive because they are still cold from the cold front.
Normally, I will refrain from fishing on a day like that and give it a couple of days to allow the water to warm up and this will give the bass’ metabolism a boost.
But, if you’re caught in a situation where you have to fish on one of these days make sure that you target areas that receive a lot of sun and will warm first.
Don’t Over Commit
The common mistake that anglers commit is to overthink a spot.
Many people go out to locate the PERFECT shelf to find pre-spawn bass.
I used to think that I needed to find that absolutely best shelf with a perfect vertical drop and located near the deep water. And then throw in other variables, such as, making sure shell beds are nearby or making sure that area has constant current or any other ingredient which produces an excellent staging location.
Though such type of spot seems sweet and amazing but will take me an incredibly long time to find! Sadly, it just ends up being a huge waste of a day.
Learning from some of the best pros I’ve come to the conclusion that during the early spring, all you need is 3 easy things to locate pre-spawn bass.
FIRST – The most productive area you’ll find is a 2-foot shelf which runs approximately 10 feet from the bank in around 100-200 yards! (#1 in the figure below)
SECOND – Vertical drop off nearby. (#2 in the figure below)
THIRD – Relatively deep water nearby. (#3 in the figure below)
That’s it! Any other variable that you find associated with that location is just icing on the cake.
At that stretch, you can catch your limit in only a few minutes provided that your boat positioning is correct and it is the correct time of the year.
When the bass move away from that area, you won’t catch them at that spot till the following spring. A 2-foot drop can be nothing to many people, but this is what the bass seem to enjoy.
Basically, you should not skip any spot simply because it is not in the textbook, or that it does not match all the variables that you set.
Can you find the best pre-spawn location in this picture?
Finding The Best Pre-Spawn Bass Shelf
Become familiar with the shelf with your normal sonar and with your side sonar scan (if you have it equipped).
Then you need to position yourself parallel to it.
Nearly all the egg-laden females, as well as the nest seeking males, will literally pack onto those shelves, waiting when the time is right for them to spawn.
It’s important to know that bass will move up and down the shelf in search of food during their pre-spawn “holding/migrating mode” before they commit themselves to spawn.
Alternatives To Shelves
Areas such as south-facing bluff walls, south-facing grass beds and large rockslides/landslides where boulders and rock have fallen into the lake are also great alternatives. Normally, these areas will be located on the northern end of the lake and interestingly enough they will also have a harder bottom.
You also find males searching for areas to bed in these locations. Typically, these little buck bass are more aggressive and energetic than the females (who are typically still holding deep). Other times you’ll notice that these Buck bass can be still pretty wary and skittish…if that’s the case, then throw a small finesse wacky worm or a drop shot worm.
Once you see the males are really committing to spawning, the males will fashion to make a crater-like indentation in the substrate.
I don’t want to mislead you, bass do not spawn only in the gravel. I’ve seen bass spawn nearly anywhere where there is light, deep-water nearby, and a small amount of current to help oxygenate the eggs. That means that you could find bass on a large submerged boulder, an old abandoned tire or on a large branch of a submerged tree.
Great Pre-Spawn Bass Baits…
During the current time in the year, there are some select baits that can often be used.
First, there is the wacky-rigged 5-inch soft stick bait, like the Yamamoto Senko.
The fish become straight suckers in this bait, particularly when they are extremely inactive.
The second style of a go-to pre-spawn bass bait is the finesse jig. Both the Strike King Tour Grade Football Finesse Jig and the Arkie Original Bucktail Hair Jig, are amazing choices and both offer a scrumptious a size of 1/4-ounce.
The first one has a good head for grass while the latter is suitable for the harder bottoms which have clay, wood or even rock.
You choose whatever kind of bait that your situation demands.
The other bait is known as the umbrella rig. This multi-bait lure offers the appearance of a large meal, without discouraging the essential limit-sized fish.
Find structure, such as a small hump, stump or boulder and cast the umbrella rig past the target.
Then on your retrieve make sure to hit the target with the rig as you would a crankbait. Bass that are hiding over in these areas will annihilate your umbrella rig! KA-BAM!
In some cases, the fish located on these shelves are going to rest a little bit higher on the water column. The last soft plastic bait that just destroys pre-spawn bass is the Zoom Super Fluke!
This bait has a perfect gliding action & appears like a struggling baitfish once you kill it.
What is amazing about this technique of fishing is that mostly, whatever kind of bait you choose is going to work provided that you get a shelf that has fish.
Another bait you need to use is a lipless crankbait, just chuck the bait down parallel to that shelf edge.
The tight wobble and loud rattles will definitely catch you some big ones!
Forces O' Nature…
The final thing which you should know is the manner in which the weather is going to affect you during pre-spawn fishing on the shelf.
When it is cloudy or maybe windy, fish prefer to be more nomadic and wandering about the shelf…
In such an instance, the best bet is simply casting and cranking as much as you can. The more shelf that you hit, the higher the chances you have of putting the bait in front of the fish.
If it is sunny and calm, you should slow down your approach, but you need to still cover water.
However, if your shelf has a grass line you need to cover every inch of it…just saturate it.
In case you find a stump, a rock, or a submerged brush pile or submerged structure… just work it dry.
Fish tend to actually pile up over or inside the cover when the sun is out shining brightly.
The technique I’ve described above is not complicated at all, but it’s simple and very, very effective.
It allows you the freedom to throw lures that you like and that you’re confident in, all the while, allowing you to fill your livewell FAST!
Whenever you get yourself out on the water and observe the pre-spawn bass in their full swing, then locate that shelf and have a blast!
Good luck with this new technique!