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Maximizing your prespawn time on water......learning from mine and maybe other's mistakes


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This thread is really for the Northern folks who have yet to get on the water and start fishing in that pre spawn period.   

I wanted to start this thread for a few reasons, first being that I now fully understand this is a Bass angler's best chance of catching trophy fish, the fish of a lifetime.   This is your best chance to break your PB, let the FOMO fuel you!  Secondly because of how fast it all happens, or at least did for me.    If you fail to realize it by a week or two like me, you'll be chasing your tail the rest of the spawn cycle.   

 

Every body of water, and particular Bass is unique in regard to spawning but after reading an article about 30mins ago a real "eureka moment" happened.     

 

February 3rd I caught this 6.4 in 30+fow on a Damiki 1oz Axe Blade.   The water was in the low 50s, and this fish had a big sore on it's tail that was dripping blood.     This fish was only a couple hundred yards away from a spawning cove and flat, but in my mind even though I thought the tail injury could be a result of fanning a bed, I thought the much more likely explanation was some kind of injury/infection because it's Feb 3rd and the water was in the low 50s after all.    Otherwise, the fish was a perfect healthy looking big prespawn fish.  

 

The quote that really made me flip and realize that this was a fish that had already moved up and at least started to prepare a bed was " Before releasing ‘em, check their tails for fresh sores or even dripping blood."   I knew to examine the tails and overall look to them to decern which stage of the Spawn cycle they are at, but not that early.   Had I connected the dots better I wouldn't have stayed offshore for another week or two wondering where all the bloated big fish went, where did my 50 fish days go.  I was still catching some, still catching some quality, but something was shifting majorly, and I didn't listen to the obvious clue. 

 

So my tip for you folks not on the water yet.......check the condition of the fish, listen to the clues in front of your face even if it goes against what you've read or heard.   

 

"Before releasing ‘em, check their tails for fresh sores or even dripping blood."  - Walker Smith

6-4-lgm2-2.png

 

 

 

 

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Just to add on, once the water is in the 40's up north, I check the shallows.  Fish move up way faster than I used to think.  And, if they're not on the flats, they're probably nearby on the breaks.

 

scott

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Year after year I’m surprised at how fast we go from frozen lakes to post spawn around here. That’s why I have such FOMO during the pre spawn period. I think my odds are best for a new PB, and great numbers. I’ve had more days where bass just recklessly slam everything you throw during the spring time than any other season. Once I see bluegill and pumpkinseed spawn colonies I know the bass are mostly in a post spawn state, and it seems like it happens earlier and earlier every year. 

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3 minutes ago, softwateronly said:

Just to add on, once the water is in the 40's up north, I check the shallows.  Fish move up way faster than I used to think.  And, if they're not on the flats, they're probably nearby on the breaks.

 

scott

Thank you for contributing, and to others, please share your tips......I should have made that more clear in my OP.

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I don't usually get very much time to target prespawn bass (largemouth) because the season doesn't legally open until mid May.  Every few years the stars align and I get about 7-10 days to do it.  I can recall the first pandemic season (May 2020) being like this.  My Father and I had a very productive couple of outings before the spawn arrived in early June.  The largemouth are also more "exposed" too, as weed growth hasn't gotten very thick yet.  The advantage of a late ice out are the reasons I stated above.  It delays the spawn and creates a bigger window of time for pre-spawn.

 

There is a much bigger lake about 90 miles north of me that is a smallmouth factory and I can usually hit that prespawn bite until about mid June.  Problem is, so does everyone else.  The last two years it has been poor because of drought/heat.  The window was just too short and I couldn't time it properly.  Once they spawn on that lake, they scatter into the abyss and its game over for me.

 

My lure of choice during this pre-spawn period is a jerk bait.  I bought a couple more this past winter that I intend to use this spring.

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8 minutes ago, gimruis said:

I don't usually get very much time to target prespawn bass (largemouth) because the season doesn't legally open until mid May.  Every few years the stars align and I get about 7-10 days to do it. 

Ya - I'm like "what's this pre-spawn everyone talks about?"

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The clue the general bass population is transitioning from late pre spawn to early spawn is cruising bass along the spawning areas.

Female bass don’t make beds before a make has already staked out the bed site. 
Your bass tail looks more like disease like bacteria then bed fanning.

Good point as the big bass usually spawn early and deeper then we tend to believe.

Tom

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2 minutes ago, MN Fisher said:

Ya - I'm like "what's this pre-spawn everyone talks about?"

Haha.  The opportunity doesn't happen every year.  I feel like its about 1 out of 4 or so.  Late ice out and a cooler than average May usually presents the opportunity.

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2 minutes ago, TnRiver46 said:

I like late summer and winter better 

Mind Reaction GIF

Agree 100%.   Just wish they had the full "cheat code" poundage like they do right before they spawn. 

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12 minutes ago, theTroutBoss said:

I like to throw big rainbow trout swimbaits in trout stocked waters this time of year. You're right it's a great time of year to fish 

Hmmm I know a place I could try that this weekend……..

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The clearer the water the deeper the spawn. Your bass could have very well been fanning beds in 30fow

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I've preached for years, pre-spawn starts long before most anglers believe.

 

Most sit around waiting on a magical number on a thermometer. Most believing 60-65 is that magical range. They fail to consider those numbers are surface temperatures. Bass do not lay eggs on the surface. 

 

Second they fail to consider those temperatures indicate the bass are already laying eggs. Once the female starts laying eggs they become more difficult to catch.

 

By this time frame most bass have been in pre-spawn for a month or more. 

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I’ve been getting skunked during this magical water temperature. I have somewhere taken a wrong turn from the title of the thread and minimized the pre spawn

 

I’ve learned……. That I know nothing 

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When you fish 3 - 4 days a week your gonna hit something.

I find year after year that I don't start consistently catching LM bass until water temps climb into the 50's and 58* seems like holy grail around here.

 

Pre-spawn is by far my favorite time to fish.

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The biggest bass on the lake get harder to catch later in the prespawn, but I would say that the Lions share of the normal run of the mill 'hey that's a big bass' fish and also the 'good ones' and 'dinks' make their move up when it gets a little warmer than it is right now most places and that's when it seems like the 'lake is on fire' for most people.

 

The real prespawn begins when the water is still very cold, but it only really begins for the extremely opportunistic and experienced large bass. And you're mostly gonna be getting 4 or 5 bites a day up shallow but they're likely to be doozies.

 

For us down in central NC, the vast majority of the middle to small size bass are fairly cautious and lazy and don't really get going on beds til water is in the 60s for a good little bit and because water is fairly murky in our lakes, the surface/shallow temps DO matter.

 

The interesting part is, bass seem to spawn here until it's basically almost fatal for them to spawn (90 degree water temps) and then there's a second pre spawn and spawn cycle in the early fall and you'll catch bloody tailed fish all over the lake until it's below 50°.

 

Around here it seems like bass just spawn like wild fire if the water and weather permit and will do it spring summer and fall (and even late winter for the giants!).

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Great post.

I've witnessed Big bass on beds in April with water temps in the low 50's here.  the big girls want to drop their eggs ASAP and have no problem finding a willing male.  What we all need to remember is water clarity has an effect on where and when fish will spawn. I've found that clear, shallow water where there is a darker bottom (not muck) seems to draw their attention.

The other thing that dawned on me was the fact that my TM mounted transducer doesn't give an accurate temp. reading as it sits over a foot from the surface.  When checking the temp. on my console unit, the surface temp. was considerably warmer.  Maybe the eggs only need sun to hatch and water temp. is secondary. :Idontknow:

 

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10 minutes ago, papajoe222 said:

Great post.

I've witnessed Big bass on beds in April with water temps in the low 50's here.  the big girls want to drop their eggs ASAP and have no problem finding a willing male.  What we all need to remember is water clarity has an effect on where and when fish will spawn. I've found that clear, shallow water where there is a darker bottom (not muck) seems to draw their attention.

The other thing that dawned on me was the fact that my TM mounted transducer doesn't give an accurate temp. reading as it sits over a foot from the surface.  When checking the temp. on my console unit, the surface temp. was considerably warmer.  Maybe the eggs only need sun to hatch and water temp. is secondary. :Idontknow:

 

Photoperiod is more important than temperature. The fish can't read a thermometer, but their biological clock can determine how long the days are and when their ideal time to spawn is. 

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What I've noticed on this site & YouTube channels the "title" will read pre-spawn/spawn but the content is more about spawn.

 

Even though pre-spawn & spawn are part of the same "process" they fish totally different.

 

I divide pre-spawn in to 3 categories.

 

Early pre-spawn, individual or groups begin making short reconnaissance trips into "shallow" water. Only when conditions stabilize for a couple days will any appreciable number of bass remain there long. 

 

Mid pre-spawn, night temperatures or at or above the water's surface temperature. Now we are no longer loosing water temperatures gained during the daytime. The entire water column is warming up! 

 

This is when we see large fluctuations in fish movement.

 

Late pre-spawn, females are staging 1 or 2 breaklines off the nest waiting for conditions to get right.

 

Edited by Catt
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5 hours ago, TnRiver46 said:

I’ve been getting skunked during this magical water temperature. I have somewhere taken a wrong turn from the title of the thread and minimized the pre spawn

 

I’ve learned……. That I know nothing 

Hey we're in the same club together 🤣

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1 hour ago, papajoe222 said:

Maybe the eggs only need sun to hatch and water temp. is secondary.

 

Oh boy, maybe I'll try shinning my Covid flashlight at the beds this year, I hope it works better for that, and maybe no knurled handles might have been better...

 

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