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BigSkyBasser

Pre Spawn Tactics For Coldwater Smallies

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We don't have a winter season here for bass because the freeze is to aggressive and I'm not as fond of ice fishing, so I'm always prepping for pre spawn. Just curious What some of your favorite techniques and presentations are for this make-or-break bite.

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Are you talking about the pre-spawn period or the cold water period? They aren't the same thing. Different tactics depending which you are fishing.

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I was referring to pre spawn and the type of waters we fish as the are generally referred to as cold water lakes and reservoirs. 

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The cold water period, as defined by In-Fisherman is one of the 10 calendar periods. It happens in the fall just before the water freezes, and right after ice out up until the water reaches the mid 40's. The pre-spawn period is when the water goes from the middle 40s to the middle 50's when the spawn period starts. Fish behavior is different in each period. The techniques used and locations are different during the cold water period, pre-spawn, spawn, post spawn etc.  

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crawling a hula grub will be your best bet. Many different jig heads out there for them. Best jig heads are homemade ones you pour yourself.

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BigSky, during the prespawn time the bass will start to move into position to find warmer water in shallow areas.

 

We call this "staging" and select our baits accordingly.

 

The bass will hold in deeper water and follow their "spawning roads" to the places they like to spawn. The bass move towards the spawning flats as the water temperature increases.

 

The male bass move up first in search of good places to make a bed. They will follow the same trail the other males follow. Find the trail and you will find the bass.

 

The big ladies then move up to find the beds and have some fun. Water temperatures are usually in the low to mid 60's for the bass to move on their beds.

 

Your challenges during prespawn are:

1.  Find the routes the males take to the spawning grounds.

2.  Find the baits that the bass will hit as they move into the spawning areas.

3.  Find the big females to get your personal best.

 

As for baits, the bass will have to tell you what they want depending on the water temperature.

 

Plastics on the bottom are good choices as are crankbaits.  Swimbaits and Chatterbaits can work, too. Jigs and pigs can produce. Brush hogs can be outstanding.  Swim jigs can work, too.

 

We can give you all types of baits to use and techniques to present them, but it is up to you to find out what the bass want to eat on the way to their spawn.

 

Of course, after the spawn the males will smoke a cigarette.

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Pre spawn in the Saint Lawrence finds them in deeper water or commuting back & forth  in the warming up  backbays.  Because it is warmer than ice cold Great Lakes water pouring  into the River.  The schooling BIG females will go to 30 or 80 feet for some reason.   Food ?  The area is loaded with loose rocks & pebbles.  Crayfish ?

 

That is my spring area conditions.

 

Spawining can be at 10 to + 30 feet by the big females sometimes.   Not even close to the way a L M  does it.

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Pre-spawn is one of the times of the year that the smallmouth in my home lake can be caught doing anything. I just "go fishing" and catch them right along side largemouth most days. They don't move into the shallow back water areas like the largemouth do,but on the main lake, they are intermixed, and it's seemingly random which one your going to catch. If I want to target them specifically, sometimes I hit known higher percentage smallmouth spots, but even then, the green ones are there too.

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Pre spawn is jerkbait time for smallies around here.

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Pre spawn is jerkbait time for smallies around here.

Have you tried the Spro McRip85?

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Have you tried the Spro McRip85?

It was one of my go to jerkbaits early in the year last year.

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I would start by identifying the routes the bass would take to leave their winter haunts to get to their spawning areas. Once you have a rough idea, you should at least be in the right area, and that's half the battle. In my experience, the sharper the drop between the spawning grounds and their winter lairs, the better. It gives the fish a foot out the door if ever they want to retreat back to deeper water.

 

As the water warms, you'll spot the males making their nests. At this point in time, I find the bite to be almost entirely driven by the weather, more so than any other time of year. A few sunny, warm days go a long way in getting the fish active. But it also goes the other way, where a cold snap can just shut them down, so you need different presentations on hand to match up with the conditions you're faced with.

 

In terms of lures, you have to remember that it's still fairly cold, so even neutral bass won't be in the mood to chase, as fish are still fairly sluggish. I have found that suspending jerkbaits are fantastic this time of year, but you have to really slow down and use longer pauses than you're used to. Other classics include a drop-shot or a hair jig. These are both slow presentations that should be done even slower sometimes to tempt fish to bite...but when they do, you can get into the biggest bass of the year!

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Good observation about no smaller bass allowed in either the males or females.  

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Love the feedback so far. Finding roads will be easy, as the main reservoir that I fish has several isolated sandbars surrounded by deep water and weed mattes that follow these areas in a linear fashion. I've always had descent patterns forming when we fish steep ledges around this time, the only issue being that the presence of fish is inconsistent and might just be a temporary feeding point between winter waters and the spawning destination. I'm thinking that a jig with a any trailer imitating crayfish here would be killer. The biggest issue with swimbaits in the water I fish is that we don't have herring, shad, or any other fish that bass generally target in schools. The bass will seldom hunt the sunfish, trout, and perch that do occupy these waters and local fisherman have never been able to efficiently fish swimbaits or umbrella rigs here. 

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 Welcome to the genetics of Catch & release.

 

 

Fish DO NOT remain virgin stupid about boats, lures & making people happy.

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The bass will seldom hunt the sunfish, trout, and perch that do occupy these waters and local fisherman have never been able to efficiently fish swimbaits or umbrella rigs here. 

 

You might want to rethink this theory.  Bass will eat almost anything they can get in their mouth.

At the right time and situation, both swimbaits and the A-Rig will be effective.

 

 

 

:winter-146:

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Totally  agree.  I have had a couple of BIG smallies grab EVERY perch I was reeling in.

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Jerkbaits and  hula grubs

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