Prespawn Bass Fishing
Learn how prespawn bass react to cold fronts, and how you should adjust to catch more fish!
Hey guys. This is Gene Jenson, with BassResource.com. Today is a tough day. 2 days ago, I was out here and I was further up the lake where the water’s a lot muddier, a lot more baitfish. I decided to come down here today after a major cold front and fish clear water. I don’t know why. I probably should’ve stayed up here. I’ll tell you my condition: Fairly clear water. It was 32 degrees this morning. The water temperature has dropped 4 degrees in the last 2 nights. The fish that were up last week getting ready to spawn are back up in the pockets, cruising the flats, have basically pulled out to the first piece of cover that’s in deeper water or all the way out to the middle of the pockets that they were in. That’s where they’ve been hanging out, waiting for the water to warm back up. This happens a lot. It happens when the water levels come . . . drop dramatically on a lake. The fish will pull out to that first patch of cover that’s in deep water where they feel comfortable. These fish have pulled out to about 15 to 20 feet on this flat. I just caught one fish, first time I threw a jig out here. I know there’s a brush pile out here in about 15 feet of water, and I threw close to that brush pile and got bit. Then I made about 15 more casts and didn’t get bit after that.
The fish want to move up. This is pre-spawn. This is . . . let me try to define pre-spawn. There is really no set temperature or set anything that causes a fish to pre-spawn, except for the days get longer and the sun is on the water a little bit longer and it causes these fish to move up. Bass don’t move up all at one time. The reason they don’t move up all at one time is because that’s nature’s way of preventing a total decimation of a year class of bass. If they were all to move up and spawn at the same time, and then once the eggs were laid and the fry hatch, if a major cold front moves through like it did the day before yesterday, or 3 days ago and dropped the water temperature back down into the low 50s, all of those baitfish, or all of those fry, would die. Nature’s way of doing that is to have the bass come up in waves. Some of them come up early; some of them come up later. It’s just the way it is.
The first little wave of bass had moved up. The water temperature dropped, they pull back out. They don’t want to go far; they go to the deep water, the nearest deep water, and find cover, find a ledge, or a rock pile and that’s where you’re going to find your concentration of fish. This little flat happens to have grass in about 12 or 13 feet of water, so I’m catching fish in . . . or I’m getting bites, I haven’t caught very many fish. I’m getting bites in grass. That one bite came out of a brush pile that I just happened to know was there. I came out here this wintertime when the water level was way down and found this brush pile. Marked it on my GPS and came back and fished it today.
Once it warms back up, once we get a couple of days, good nights that are in the low 50s or high 40,s and then days that are in the 60s and 70s, this water temperature will warm up pretty fast and these fish will pull back . . . come back out of that deep spot and move up shallow looking to spawn. We’re moving up on the full moon in March, and in Georgia, that’s usually the first wave of spawners that come in.
The bait I choose to use in pre-spawn, and I really love to use, is a green pumpkin craw imitation. I have here a Rage Craw; something that imitates a crawfish. Then one of the cool things I do is I like . . . early spring, a lot of these crawfish have orange on them and most crawfish have either brown or green pumpkin main color to them. I like to stick with the green pumpkin colors, but then I dye the claws and little parts of the claws orange. The way I do that is, of course, JJ’s Magic. I could talk about it a lot. JJ’s Magic has this color called methylate, and it’s actually a pink color. When you dip green pumpkin in that color, you get that nice fire orange that bass absolutely love. A little birdie told me that it’s a good possibility that Cliff Pace was using it in the Bass Masters Classic this year; of course he’s not saying anything about it. It’s a possibility; let’s just put it that way, because I know that he was dipping his jig trailers in something that turned them orange. The only thing I know that turns brown and green pumpkin orange is that methylate color. It is what it is.
Let me explain a little bit more, or quite a bit more, about pre-spawn. Let me show you guys where I’m at. I’m in the back of a huge spawning pocket. This is actually two creeks, small creeks that come in together in the middle of this pocket. I’ve got points all along here, I’ve got major points. When the bass come out of the main lake or come out of the deep water, they’re goal is to make it back here. I may be further back than I should be to catch big fish. I just want to get bites right now and gain a little bit of confidence in today. Their goal is to be back here spawning in this shallow water; 0 to 10 feet. They’re going to slowly and gradually, as the weather gets better and better, and warmer and warmer, they’re going to move back following the creek channel. They’re going to pull up on these points and things that stick out, anomalies, brush piles, and they’re going to hang out until they feel like the waters warmed up a little bit more, and then they’re going to move forward a little bit more. Like I said, they don’t come all at once. They’ll come a few at a time and they’ll stop, and then they’ll move and they’ll stop and they’ll move. The whole time, they’re feeding. If they can find something to eat, they’re going to eat.
I’m going to start all the way out in the main creek channel, or the main river channel, and I’m going to follow that creek channel up, looking at my depth finder, until I figure things out. I’m looking for baitfish and what depth that they are at. I’m looking for rock piles and ledges that have fish on them. I love to find fish in deep water because the boat won’t spook them off. Once I get up in shallow water, it’s a little bit more difficult. Don’t be afraid in pre-spawn to fish 20-25-35 feet deep because the fish can be there. If you see a rock pile on your depth finder and you think there might be fish in it, drop something down to it. See what they got. A great pre-spawn bait that I used to use and had have totally forgot about is one of those Lil George’s that have the spinner at the bottom and the treble hook. You can get it down there pretty quick and check out rock piles.
That’s their goal, is to get back here. The places I look for are those points that come out along the creek channel, the steeper points, not these gradual sloping points, unless that point is going . . . is right at the edge of a spawning flat. Then I’m going to at least make 3-4-5 casts on those gradual points. I’m looking for mainly rock and wood to throw something at. This brush pile right here is something I’m looking for. The main reason why I chose this brush, though, is because these fish have moved back out and they’re looking for the first piece of cover in deep water. That’s what this brush pile is. There’s another one about a 100 yards further up, a smaller brush pile. This one is significant; it’s about twice the size of my boat. I’m going to hit that one on the way out and see if I can catch something else.
That’s the whole goal. The bass want to get up and make babies, so they’re going to slowly move up until they feel comfortable. They’ll stop at one place until they feel comfortable, and then they’ll move up further and they’ll keep working their way back towards these spawning pockets. A spawning pocket on a lake doesn’t have to be a huge major bay like this one. It could be just a little pocket with some boat docks; it doesn’t go very far in there. They’ll end up . . . that’s where . . . they’ll end up being back in there, but that’s where I usually look towards the end of the spawn when the water temperature is up into the mid-60s. Just me. I’m pretty sure you can find some earlier than that, but they won’t be as concentrated as they would be in a big bay. If I’m looking for a lot of fish for tournament angling, tournament fishing, I’m looking for the major movements going back up in these pockets in these bays.
There we go. This might be a bigger fish. It’s not bad, not bad at all. Let me recap of what I’ve done today: I went back to the back of the pocket and I worked my way out on these points. Due to the cold front and everything else, these fish have pulled out. Found out I’ve got to keep my boat between 20 and 15 . . . actually, 20 and 25 feet of water and cast up onto these points, and catch 1 or 2 fish off of each point. Not bad at all. Let’s see if I can catch a couple more. There’s one. There’s a better fish, another point. About a 3-pounder, it looks like. Sure didn’t want to budge when I set the hook on him. That’s a good tournament fish right there.
Guys, it’s been a struggle today. I’ve managed to catch 9 so far. This is the best one. Pre-spawning can be easy, can be tough. The bass want to eat, you just have to go with the fronts. As the storm fronts, or as the cold fronts move through, you got to understand what the fish do, or what the fish do when these fronts come through, and adjust accordingly. Like I always say, visit BassResource.com for the answer to all your questions about bass fishing. Subscribe to my YouTube channel. Hit the Like button if you like this video. Have a great day.