Catching Pre-Spawn Bass

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It has been a long and unseasonably wet winter here in Texas.  We saw temps in the teens, all the way into high 70’s on Christmas day!  Now that winter is on its’ way out and hopefully spring is on its’ way (March 20 is official first day).  February and March the the months to get the females that are full of eggs and will be in shallower waters. Some bass will be in pre-spawn, some in spawn and some even in post spawn.

These big females will be getting fatter and heavier every day until they spawn.  There are a few different strategies to target these big Pre-Spawn females and you approach them totally different.

  • Deep Fish. Deep is a relative term.  On your own body of water deep may be 6’ or it could be 20’.  But to target these deeper fish is a high risk high reward scenario.  My personal favorite baits are a Sixth Sense Divine Hybrid Jig, Santone Wobble head tipped with a Biffle Bug or a 6” Senko Texas rigged with a weighted hook.  All of these baits can be fished very slowly and will stay in a bass’s face for an extended period of time if the water is still cold.  When I am targeting deeper fish in creek channels, I will look for lay downs, stumps (the larger the better) and rocks.  All 3 of these are bass magnets in the pre-spawn.
  • Shallow Fish. When I say shallow, I am typically talking about water 5’ or less.  It would amaze you to know how many bass will be up and “sunning” on a warm February afternoon.  As the sun climbs higher, be ready to transition towards the banks as these females will try and warm their bodies for the spawn.  Think about it, you always see minnows and perch in the shallows year round.  These big females know there is food up there to load up on before they lock onto a bed and don’t feed for a while.  My favorite baits for shallow February bass are a 5” Senko wacky rigged weightless, 6th sense Quake lipless crankbait and a chatterbait.  All of these baits can cover water and induce bites from bass that are probing the shallows looking for a meal.  Pay close attention to the water temp on your graphs.  A few degrees may mean the difference in a few fish or a 20 pound sack.
  • When you catch a fish in an area….S-L-O-W down. Chances are there are more fish close by.  In the spring most bass are not loaners.  Start dissecting the area with different baits like a square bill or a jig to locate other bass in the vicinity.
  • Be Quiet. When you are up shallow, be as quiet as possible.  Don’t slam rod lockers and lids down in the boat.  Try not to let your trolling motor blow up mud when you use it.  Fish are very spooky this time of year so try to maintain a low profile and it will pay dividends with bass in the live well.

I know there will still be mornings that are well below freezing.  But it will warm up throughout the day and bass being cold-blooded will start to move about more and more.  So figure out which strategy best fits you and try to catch these Pre-Spawn bass at their heaviest weights of the year.

Shane Smith

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