As our lakes begin to defrost and days get longer the green fish we all love to catch have one thing on their mind: the spawn. While catching bedding bass is fun and all, the real moment most all bass anglers have been waiting for is that little window before the actual spawning happens. We call this the pre-spawn. This special time is the best time of the year to catch the fish of a lifetime!
The prespawn typically begins to happen when water temperatures reach the low 50 degree mark. As we notice our days getting longer don’t think the fish don’t as well. The combination of these two factors sends the fish into a feeding frenzy.
Locating fish in the prespawn isn’t as challenging as one may think. They are actually fairly predictable. Before you head out we recommend getting your hands on a topographical fish map or downloading something like the Navionics app to your phone.
Once you have begun your mapping search, start by looking for flats or points with either a nearby ledge or creek channel. Bass like to use these areas to “stage.” The deep water offers protection and the ability to fall back into that deeper water if need be. Bass will use the flats in the early stages for ambushing food and in the later stages for the actual act of spawning.
We like to keep our bait choices simple here in California. Something fast to search, something big to entice, and something slow on the bottom to antagonize.
Let’s start with the fast. What you will find on the deck of our boats most often is a Lucky Craft LV500 (lipless crankbait), some sort of square billed crankbait and either a spinner bait or a vibrating swim jig. All of these baits allow us to cover areas effectively and efficiently, resulting in more water fished and hopefully more fish caught.
As for the big bait, we like to use either a glide bait or a soft swimbait like a Huddleston that can be bounced on the bottom. This type of bait is going to be for a big female who wants the “best bang for her buck,” or in other words, she’ll want to chase less and eat more. We like to throw these baits on the most obvious big structure you can find around these staging areas. The biggest fish will have the best and most obvious spots on the lake so you don’t have to look too hard!
Last but not least and probably the most effective category of baits, the slow moving baits. You don’t need much more than a Senko style bait and a jig at this time of year! Another great option in the prespawn is crawfish style lures. There is a phase when big females will key in on crawfish. These crustaceans are full of calcium and are a critical part of a female’s diet to produce eggs.
A large and healthy female will often lay up to 10,000 eggs per round so consuming enough crawfish can be very helpful! The best crawfish imitation and most proven big fish catcher is the jig. Fish this bait low and slow around hard cover and try to resemble the movements of crawfish as best you can for optimal results.
As for the Senko, we like to use this bait for target casting. By that we mean making casts to specific areas of heavy or sparse cover and fishing it super slow. Big fish will often suspend on cover and one of the best ways to catch them is throwing a weightless Senko. It falls tantalizingly slow and is very hard to resist by almost any fish at any time.
So whether you enjoy fishing fast, slow or sticking to the big baits the spring is the best time of the year to get out there and catch that fish of a lifetime!