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Prespawn Largemouth Bass Productivity

Prespawn Largemouth Bass Productivity

A bladed jig is one of the best search baits on the market, and the fish love them.

Notwithstanding the instinct for species continuation, spawning is probably not the most enjoyable time in a largemouth bass’ life cycle. Strenuous and exhausting, this necessary time requires a fasting for which the fish must prepare.

Suffice it to say, eating ranks high in the prespawn priorities. Knowing this, anglers can score big by tapping into this elevated feeding activity.

With the greatest respect and courtesy to motherhood, one of the commonly occurring developments is food cravings, both in quantity and diversity. Bass are very similar, in that this is the time of year when pretty much anything and everything represents a potential meal.

Shad? Yep. Crawfish? Sure. Bluegill?—is that a real question?

angler casting at the shorline
Finding prespawn bass isn't difficult when you consider their need to feed.

Now, in fairness—as well as my profound aversion to unnecessary drama—I won’t suggest or imply that every expectant mother craves fast food. Some do, others don’t; but when it comes to tracking down those big prespawn mamas, the fast movers won’t disappoint.

Flipping, pitching, dragging, shaking, dropping and wiggling—sure, these targeted techniques definitely merit consideration. Find a sweet spot and a few minutes of focused effort can work wonders.

But finding often means fishing. Modern electronics, especially forward-facing sonar, can greatly reduce the search time by providing discernible details of habitat and inhabitants. However, covering water and peppering promising real estate with reaction baits is the way to go.

Proven presentations include:

Topwaters: Early morning and late afternoon—we hear that a lot, and it’s not incorrect. However, when warming trends have them on the move, prespawners are apt to foam the surface just about any time of day.




Poppers have a knack for calling in hungry fish, but the necessarily slow pace can chew into your water covering time. Big walking baits, sputtering prop baits, Whopper Ploppers, and buzzbaits will deliver.

Lipless Crankbaits: The classic prespawn power fishing tool, this bait’s super effective around grass—especially when you lightly snag the hooks and pop the bait free. Pair the lipless bait with a squarebill crankbait, which also covers water well, but also bumps its way around hard cover and affords the opportunity to pause and rise over key areas.

buzzbait bass
Prespawn bass will often attack a topwater presentation when the conditions are ideal--mostly early mornings and late in the evening.

Where gizzard shad and/or bream abound, keep a large body squarebill like a Strike King KVD 4.0 or 8.0 Magnum Squarebill handy.

Recommended


Bladed Jig: Equally effective around grass or pen water, this bait’s aggressive flash and shimmy is hard for hungry prespawners to miss. A 1/2-ounce seems to be the go-to size for castability and enticing profile when paired with a swimbait or kicking craw style trailer.

At times, prespawners may shy away from the big-and-bold; maybe the water warming’s taking longer than they’d prefer, or maybe they’re seeing too many blades. Keeping a swim jig on standby gives you a dependable backup with a profile not too different from that flashy, motion-heavy bladed jig.

Second Chances: When it comes to stuffing their bellies, prespawners are intentional, but equally flexible. Imagine reaching for that maple glazed donut and someone else beats you to it. The next donut in the box will probably work just as well. (Not picking on pregnant mothers here; I also like donuts.)

Apply this to fishing strategies and you must have a follow-up bait ready for action. Maybe it’s a missed topwater bite, or a noncommittal follower that frustrates you on the electronics screen. In any case, a quick shot to the red zone with a less intrusive, easily captured presentation may be just the ticket for closing that sale.

Wacky-rigged stick worms, Neko rigs, dropshots—perennial closers, each one.

On Their Way

For those intending to give birth in a traditional hospital scenario, anticipating go-time means plotting, planning, and practicing the big trip. Bass don’t need such rehearsal; nature imprinted all the mapping and navigational details they’d need at birth.

The Course: A creek, ditch, canal, or bayou—whatever the avenue prespawners traverse en route to their bedding zone, it’s no random saunter. These fish will travel the safest and most beneficial courses; meaning they want plenty of feeding opportunities and quick access to deep water (weather relief and trouble avoidance).

wacky rig on a hook
The wacky rig is one of the finest springtime prespawn baits you'll ever throw. Keep one handy at all times.

Bear in mind that the fish will follow this migration route again once they’ve completed their spawning duties. As spring progresses, postspawners often rub elbows with the next wave of prespawners in the enviable scenario anglers describe as “catching them coming and going.”

Setting the Stage:

Prior to reaching those spawning flats, or protected coves where hard bottom intersperses sheltering vegetation, the prespawn parade makes several stops along the route. Distance from the main lake to the bedding spot varies by fishery, but regardless of the mileage, a non-stop sprint rarely makes sense.

Because nature prompts prespawners with rising water temperature and increasing photo period, the fish generally make a steady, incremental journey. staging spots. That could include docks, stumps, rock slides/veins and points—main lake, then secondary and lesser points as the prespawn march progresses.

Bassmaster Elite rookie Trey McKinney likes points with defined hard spots offering distinct feeding zones. He also notes the wisdom of closely studying contour maps for the slightest of subtleties—a small jut-out or “nub,” a little turn in the creek contour—where a few prespawners might fly under the radar.

Elite veteran Chris Johnston’s keen on snooping his way along grass lined channel edges, but he closes with a prudent point: Keep an eye on the open water off the drop. When prespawners are feeling too much pressure, or if a cold front sends a shiver down their dorsal, they might suspend off the edge until they get over the bad hair day.

Options are many, but here’s a good one: Forward-facing sonar plus jerkbait equals prespawn connection.

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