Texas bass pros Jim Tutt of Longview, Stephen Johnston of Hemphill and Keith Combs of Huntington don’t put much stock in all the negative chalk talk. In fact, all three anglers agreed that it is more of a fallacy than anything else.
“I used to think the same thing when I was growing up, but now the post spawn is one of my favorite times to fish,” says Combs. “Once you get the fish figured out, get them patterned and you can catch them every day in the same places. In my book, the post spawn bite is one of the most consistent bites of the year.”
Tutt offered up a similar theory when queried about the “post spawn blues.”
“I think it is more of an excuse the fishermen use to explain why they didn’t catch anything more than anything else,” Tutt said. “Think about it. In East Texas lakes and in Texas in general, there are fish spawning from February through April. Those fish that spawned in February and March will be back on a big time feeding binge by the time May rolls around. The reason some guys can’t catch them is because they don’t make necessary adjustments.”
Like Combs and Tutt, Johnston’s living depends on his ability to catch bass 12 months a year. The Toledo Bend guide says fishing during the post spawn is no different than the pre-spawn, summer or fall in that the main keys are being in the right areas and employing the proper tactics to catch fish.
“A lot of it can vary with the lake,” Johnston said. “Lakes like Toledo Bend, Sam Rayburn, Amistad and Falcon are so big that there could be fish just finishing up with the spawn on the south end, and fish up north and around midlake that have been done for quite a while. The fish at midlake and up north are going to be a whole lot more cooperative than the ones that are just finishing up with the spawn.”
Johnston said there is a period right after the spawn winds down when bass may become sort of difficult to catch, mainly because of stress factors that slow their metabolism and makes them reluctant to chase.
“After the females are done spawning and the males are done guarding fry they may be in a blah-kind-of mood for a little while,” Johnston said. “They’re tired and not real interested in feeding right away. They’ll still be hanging around the spawning areas and they’ll still bite, but you will need to change things up to catch them.”
Johnston offered two key words of advice to anglers who find themselves in situation when the fish don’t seem to be cooperating — slow down.
“A lot of guys still want to power fish in the shallows during the post spawn,” Johnston said. “They want to throw big spinnerbaits, big Rat-L-Traps and big lizards, but that’s not the deal. This is when fishing real slowly with the wacky worm, Senko and Strike King Caffeine Shad comes into play. It’s what I call the ‘soaking time.’”
As earlier mentioned, bass that occupy the north end of a large impoundment lake will likely be much farther along in the recovery process than those that live down south. Johnston says these fish will naturally be more energized and willing to cooperate than those that are just coming off beds.
“The area of the lake you are fishing can make a big difference in how active the fish are,” he said. “On Toledo Bend, the bass may be hammering a spinnerbait up north around the old 1215 area in May, but they won’t touch it down south around Hausen or Six Mile. The fish down south may not be as active because the spawn is just winding down. They’ll still bite, but you may need to soak a bait to catch them.”
Once the bass’ spawning duties are complete, Tutt says many of the fish will begin finning their way out of spawning pockets towards main lake hangouts located in closer proximity to deeper water.
The Ranger pro staffer pointed out that the move doesn’t occur overnight. Instead, it occurs in stages with the bass taking the same paths to deeper water that they followed when moving shallow.
“It’s basically a reversal situation,” Tutt said. “A lot of the places where you caught fish during the pre-spawn will be holding fish in May. They won’t be bunched up quite as well, though. That’s why I think it is real important to stay on the move and cover lots of water.”
Tutt says certain types of areas will be more prone to hold fish than others. While creeks, ditches and drains that connect deep water to shallow are always worth a look, he is much more fond of main lake and secondary points. He named a Rebel Pop-R, Stanley Ribbit Frog and Senko as his go-to baits on most Texas lakes.
“The first points located just outside the spawning flats are always a good bet during the post spawn,” Tutt said. “That’s the first structure the fish will come to. Plus, points are good holding spots for bait fish and they are good places for bream to spawn. Vegetation like pepper grass or hydrilla makes it even better.”
Combs is a big fan of points, as well. On Lake Falcon, underwater ledges, ridges other stuff that can’t be seen with the naked eye can be productive, as well. Carolina rig, deep crank baits, football jigs and Texas rigs get top billing.
“The bass will move out there and set up on schools of bait, sometimes in big numbers,” Combs said. “These types of places will replenish from one day to the next on Falcon, because there will be fish steadily moving out of the spawning flats. Once you establish a pattern, it may be consistent for a month or so.”
May marks the beginning of the spawning season for bream on many lakes across Texas. This means there there will be tons of the feisty pan fish occupying skinny water in large colonies that may contain 50 or more spawning beds in a 10X10 area.
“Bass see bream beds as easy meal ticket,” Tutt said. “They’ll be up cruising around the beds and they will bust a topwater or a frog if you get one around them. It’s a real simple pattern to run, too. Find the bream beds and the bass probably won’t be far away.”
Catching bass during the post spawn isn’t rocket science, but it does require anglers to make some adjustments in lure selection and fishing locations. Take some time to figure out the puzzle and bass fishing’s toughest time may eventually become your favorite time.