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


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3 hours ago, Catt said:

 

Are we talking marsh bass or river bass?

 

Tidal waters here means brackish water.

Marsh bass in brackish tidal water.

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all our trees are in bloom. 

 

the bass?  dunno.  we are under the shroud of weather.  I hope the bass are not pre-spawn as I sit here trying to stay dry.  but I suspect it is close, if not happening .

 

 

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Photoperiod has zero effect on water warming. You check water temperature, the bass do not. They spawn the same time every year here, regardless of actual water temperature. I would wager a guess that your lakes are the same way. The fish in Big Bear spawn on the same moon cycle, same time of year, every year. It's unlikely that they will go to pull up on May 1st and, because water is only 55 degrees, retreat and try again later. Nope, their biological clock tells them it's go time and they go. Temperature is a distant second in importance. 

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The on our local lakes spawn when the water temps warm above 55 degrees.

Most years do to our Mediterranean climate the spawn starts(

Casitas in February 

Castiac, Cachmua, in March

Big Bear in May.

This year all the above lakes are a month later do to very cold wet rainy year.

Tom

 

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You're not wrong, but Tom wrote off photoperiod as being the primary determining factor for spawning. Water temperature doesn't have to be 65 degrees even though we have been told that forever. 

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We are almost 400 miles apart. I'm 40 miles north of Sioux city, 45 south of Sioux falls in Hawarden. The big Sioux river runs thru town and is our border between Iowa and South Dakota.

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I've got a supervisor from west river South Dakota. He talks alot of trash about being tougher than us Iowa wimps. I told him if I needed a brain transplant I'd get the donor brain from his hometown because its never been used.

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The rain run off has been good but cold water and most local lakes dirty with debris.

The bass want to move up but cold water sets them back. With the dirty water I like to use darker colors like jigs black with chartreuse high lites and soft plastics bark purple with blue neon vain.

Single spin #3 copper Colorado blade black spinnerbait. Any lure you would use at night. 
Tom

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Northern Michigan Smallies ~ The Pre-Spawn 

 

My personal quest for plus sized brown was starts the very minute there's open water.

And well in advance of any behavior by the bass that would cause any of that bloody tail stuff. 

 

Where to start ?

Right off the bat,  Pre-Spawn is a time and a term that gets most all of us bassheads pretty pumped up.  It can be and often is one of the best times to catch plenty of solid fish, including some real giants.   

 

The Pre-spawn as it relates to my quest for big brown bass, is super important.  Mostly because it can offer me shallow water access to some True Trophies.  Something that only happens again in the late summer / fall.

 

I simply must start this somewhat deep dive into the northern Michigan pre-spawn smallmouth bass fishing with “The Weather”.  As mentioned in this deal previously, it has & always will play such a HUGE role in any & all success I may or may not have.  And early spring is no different, perhaps even more so.  Many of us are feeling it's somewhat negative effects this season.    #coldandwindy

 

  So let’s talk about ‘The When’ –when is ‘the pre-spawn’. 

For the purposes of this writing, pre-spawn starts the very second there is open water.  And one of the aspects of this deal that adds quite a bit on intensity to it all, is just how brief the best big fish bite can be.  It’s also why every trip I can make is such a special time.

 

 Open water dates can vary wildly year to year; this season was an excellent example; 28 March is super early.  Looking back on the past 14 seasons here, on the ‘average’ (which is like a lottery ticket trying to predict), open water has fallen somewhere between the second or third week in April and the first week in May.  

 

 I do not fish for bass on beds, not judging, I just choose not to do it.  Pretty sure I’ve hooked plenty that were on beds (usually deeper, non-visible fish), but I’m not ‘bed fishing’ per se.

 That said, once these big smallies get down to the business of making babies, my personal ‘pre-spawn’ fishing is done for that lake for the season.  This is often somewhere around the last week of May & the first week of June.  So I thought . . . . There’s more to that, at least for me.

 

 So if for instance, the open water happens 01 May, and the actually spawning is starting the first week of June, there’s something like 4 or 5 weeks for ‘pre-spawn’.  Not a ton of time for them or me.  So I Fish Hard during this time, trying to be on the water at every weather safe opportunity.  Some years are better than others in both weather & fish catches.

 

 However, as the 2021 pre-spawn continues, and I looked back though this and past years reports & results, a very noticeable tend appeared.  Something that I hadn’t recognized before, but should have I suppose.  Perhaps I was in denial.

 It revolves around the very first two or three weeks of open water.  And it seems to happen on both the smaller lakes I fish(ed) with the Old Town Canoe AND the bigger bodies of water I’m on in the Pro-V Bass.    

 

And it is that - Year to Year, my biggest bags and largest average fish days seem to have virtually NO correlation to the actual water temperature. 

 

   So when ice out is in mid-April and the good days happen near that last week in April or that first week of May, water temps are often in the low to mid 40’s.  But when the ice hangs on and open water happens the first week of May, this is usually followed by some much warmer weather (excluding this years of course) so by the 2nd or 3rd week of May the water temps can be and often are, a full 8 to 10 degrees warmer.  Yet, my reports seem to indicate that the shallow water big bass bite time frame, remains to be the same.     

  

Now for the ‘where’.

 I am looking for these fatties in what I would deem “shallow” water; especially when I consider the depths these mutants live out the rest of their lives.  I want them coming to me. 

  My main reason for selecting this program revolves around a ready food source.  Yellow perch come shallow to spawn once the water temps get into the low to mid-40’s.  This is KEY.  And while many of the fatties I net will regurgitate crayfish during this time, there’s almost always at least as many up-chucked perch on deck as well.  Either way, it makes my jerkbait bite pretty good, especially when I’m snagging a few perch in the process.

 

   “Male perch usually are mature at age 3 and females at age 4. In the spring, when water temperatures reach 44°F to 54°F, perch spawn in lake shallows or rivers which drain into lakes. Spawning usually occurs near aquatic plants or other cover. Perch spawn at night or in the morning, but don't make nests. Females lay an average of 23,000 eggs in a jellylike mass up to 7 feet long, and the eggs usually hatch in 8 to 10 days. The young are inactive for the first 5 days while they absorb their yolk. After that, they grow rapidly, although the rate varies with habitat and population size.

Perch feed from morning to evening throughout the year. Their diet depends on the season and their size. Their main foods are aquatic insects, other invertebrates and the eggs and young of other fish. They themselves are eaten by almost all predatory fishes found in the same waters, including other perch. Many species of water birds also prey upon perch.”

 

https://www.canr.msu.edu/news/yellow_perch_michigans_favorite_fish_any_time_of_year_part_2_stewart15

 

BTW – besides brown bass, this ‘cold water food chain’ attracts several other species to it.  Some are there to eat the perch, others are there to eat what eats the perch.  Walleye, Pike, Musky & Brown Trout to name a few.  Good Times. 

 

 So believing these big brown bass are in there to eat, I’m looking for places that have the bait for them plus the type of bottom that allows them to feed effectively.  My best producing areas are often located in or near the N or NW section of the bigger lakes, and / or at the very least, sheltered from the coldest environmental factors. For me, there’s two versions of that depending on the lake and the color of the bottom.

 

 First one - I am looking for dark bottom areas (usually caused by old or emergent weed growth), in 4-6 feet with some deeper water AND shallower water close by.  Deep water for security, shallower water to help the bass ‘trap’ the bait (effective feeding).

 

 The other deal is a big open water flat that’s 8 – 12 feet deep, with a sand bottom; best areas have some isolated wood and weeds.  This pattern usually has me covering water, where the 4-6 foot deal can be more of a target casting situation.

 

 At this point I have to believe that once the water gets to the mid-40’s and the perch move in, that’s my cue.  After that, the water temp plays almost NO Role.  I’ll let you read that part again.   I have always been a big water temp watcher in the spring.  Mentioned it in just about every report & video I’ve ever posted here.  Not anymore.  The fish are there, as long as I match the presentation to the mood of the fish, I’m using the net.  Once the perch are done and leave the 'shallows', so do the vast majority of the size of brown bass I'm hunting for. 

 

  What does seem more important while they are 'shallow', are water clarity, wind speed & direction and the amount of sun and or cloud cover. I’ll touch on each.

 

Regardless of the area, Mega wind for extended periods that turn the water to cold mud - is a BITE Killer and I always end up waiting it out. 

 

For the shallowest of areas (say 4 - 6 ft), if it’s going to be calm, I want cloud cover.  It’s going to be sunny, I need wind (just not a hurricane thank you). Cloudy & windy is OK too but that bite is often very short lived and over as quickly as it started; usually an early morning thing.  Sunny & super calm/flat gets me off my usually baits and I break out the Ned Rig or the Hair jig.  Just no way around it.  If they are going to eat, they will eat one of those, provided I can get it far enough away from the boat.

 

  For the ‘deeper’ deal, the flats with 12 ft or so, I will always do better with Sun & Wind.  Sunny afternoons can be lights out.  Clouds & wind is usually a slow pick but there have been some real tankers taken during that, so I keep casting.  If there is a distinct ‘edge’ where the deeper flat meets shallower water, the bass will often hold right there; especially if the wind is blowing DIRECTLY on it.

 

  Clear water is important to both, however more so the deep areas than the shallow ones.  Clean means 10 feet or more of visibility.  Deeper ‘dirty’ water means move on to me.  Long casts as I’ve noted many times before, are the best course of action.

 

While I can & do quite a bit of hard water season ‘map study’, the only way for me to ‘know’ what a particular areas potential may be, is to fish it.  Being at these places at the right time & doing the right thing is paramount, time consuming and usually a bust – until it’s not. #waypoint  

 

Now for the ‘how’ – how do I fish all of this ?

To begin, I am very willing to admit that several presentation / baits can & do take early season fish. The list is lengthy and I am certain most any of us can name at least 10 or more.

 

 And while I’ve ‘tried’ many, many different deals, the ones that have consistently attracted the biggest bites for me, are the ones I’ll reach for most.

Past two season I’ve used a couple of different jerkbaits to cover water on the flats when I need to and have thrown a vibrating jig when there are ‘targets’ involved.  Both are somewhat interchangeable however, my best vibrating jig presentation, is pretty slow (think jig) and may not be the best choice (time wise) to cover a large deep flat. 

 

More info on these baits here ~ 

https://www.bassresource.com/bass-fishing-forums/topic/211811-brown-bass-tools-~-questions-answers/?do=findComment&comment=2564979

 

https://www.bassresource.com/bass-fishing-forums/topic/211811-brown-bass-tools-~-questions-answers/?do=findComment&comment=2443715

 

Supplemental Bait info – I have realized some solid success using a ‘silent’ jerkbait in shallower clear water. Seems especially effective after I have already been through an area with a standard rattling jerkbait. So much so that 'Silent' is often where I start now.   

 

Additionally, the Megabass 110 +1 Jr – has been Very Good for me.

Can’t say for sure if it’s the slightly smaller size or the fact that it runs at sort of the ‘in between’ depth of the standard & deep diving Jerkbait.

Either way, I’ve been fishing it a ton this year and it’s rewarded me handsomely.   

Perch & Clown have had the hooks changed out the most, if that tells you anything.

 

While fishing a deep diving jerkbait over a deep flat last weekend ~  

Fish Hard

A-Jay

https://www.bassresource.com/bass-fishing-forums/gallery/album/2177-a-jays-pics-iii/

https://www.bassresource.com/bass-fishing-forums/gallery/album/2125-a-jays-fish-pics-ii/

 

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It's been a relatively mild winter here, but cooler than normal spring so far. Was hoping to get out for the first time about April 1st, but looking at the two week forecast I don't know. Most years that's about when I get out for the first time of the year.

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That's my opinion as well 

 

In my opinion there is no "factor", "condition" that can be singled out. It's a combination of all em!

 

Like @A-Jay mentioned weather has a huge effect on the bass & me. 

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I think there's ^truth^ to this. However, I've been having a Message chat with another BR poster who's wicked smart, fishes pounded lakes, catches big fish, and fishes some cold days and nights that would shiver the timbers of southern fishers, and he compared the bass puzzle to a Rubik's Cube where the squares of color keep changing. I think he's right. There are,, after all, millions of us who catch bass and whereas some patterns have been perceived and exploited, the pattern only holds until it doesn't and that can change in a Manhattan minute.

 

I do believe, as Alex noted at the beginning of this thread, that it's important to risk a skunk and fish early. Last Friday, the nearest lake to me had open water in the middle, but there's still no way I can launch a canoe. However, when the water along the shorelines is liquid, I'm launching albeit with a wet suit and sticking close to shore, and I'm casting to see what's up. Sure, I want to catch fish, but more than that, want to see how early they stir, fully understanding that the very same Maine bass might stir sooner or later next year, or strike one day and not the next. I won't know unless I'm on the water. 

 

I also bought two swimbaits. I've read so many comments here at BR about the size of prespawn bass, so I want to cast a big lure to catch big fish. One is a Shimano and the other is a Blackdog Baits g2 Shellcracker in a bluegill color. I also bought some more jerkbaits and I'll be tossing lipless crankbaits too. 

 

Much of the water that I fish is shallow and it was super weedy when I started fishing late last summer, so I'm looking forward to having more water and less weeds and that combo freeing more to cast more than surface lures. 

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I was kind of worried about the big Shimano with the weedy places you fish, but you bring up a fantastic point.....it will be at a real minimum that first month or so, and you'll get plenty of room to draw out the monsters in those bogs with that thing.

 

Had another heart stopping 4 fish on it earlier today.   Then on FB I saw where a dad let his 4-5yr kid catch a fish on it.....kid didn't catch it, but everything else he did himself.   I knew it was magic bait, but that kind of insulted me.....thinking I had a good touch with it or something, nope it's just the bait ?

 

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@AlabamaSpothunter

 

Yeah, Alex, I'm excited to have a chance to hook some big bass with big lures, but I'm planning to limit my time casting them...to protect my back. I told you that I quit musky fishing because it hurt to cast big lures, day after day, so I'll alternate during the prespawn with swimbaits and the other lures I listed above. I'm looking forward to using the g2 like a wakebait. A 5-pounder hitting it would make my eyes do this:

 

Scared Oh No GIF by Boomerang Official

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When I made the Cosmic Clock Calendar pre was before and post was after, then changed to pre and post spawn.

Before those terms we call pre spawn bass “staging” when a group of females gathered to feed on abundant prey adjacent to spawning areas. 
Pre spawn wasn’t met to be length of time between winter and actual bedding egg laying.

The water temperature 55 to 58 degrees was the body temps of staged bass I caught. Not the surface water temperatures.

Tom

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A way that may help determine if the amount of light in a day determines the time of spawn, or if temperature has more of an influence, is to compare locations in the US that are the same latitude, which would have an equal amount of light, but are located in areas with significantly warmer or colder water temperatures.  If the amount of light is the determining factor, than the spawn should happen near the same time, at all  places that are located within a certain latitude.

      Some places it, would be obvious that the spawn would not take place at the same time.  Bass in North Eastern WA could be spawning , long before bass in Minnesota at the same latitude would be, simply because the Minnesota bass would still be swimming under many inches of ice while the bass in WA were done spawning.

     Examples would have to be investigated, that are different in weather, but the differences are not as extreme as the WA MN. example.

      I would suspect that a logical conclusion would be both temperature and the amount of sunlight play a significant role in spawn timing.    

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Great discussion, and a lot of good points. I think much like Newtonian physics, it is possible to get things fundamentally wrong, yet still be able to make accurate predictions and calculations on outcomes. Lots of ways to skin this cat once you get it out of the box and double slit it's throat...

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Like airplane crashes where's it's almost never one single thing that brings down the plane, I think you are right, it's a magic combo of temp, light, moon, and perhaps things we don't even know about.   

 

 

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I'm not smart enough to deduce like ^this,^ but I am just smart enough to recognize and appreciate top-shelf deduction.

 

I agree with @Deleted account on the overall quality of this thread, and I further agree with @AlabamaSpothunter that it's a complex mix, likely with more secret ingredients than Coke and KFC combined.

 

Agreeably yours,

 

OC

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Something to keep in mind with this is that they are also clearly defined and measurable quantities.  There are detailed, historical records of both these and they are easily measurable.  Many other factors that could affect this may not be as easily tracked or measured.

 

The peak deer rut every fall occurs because of the amount of daylight.  However, local conditions can alter it and one of those factors is temperature.  Warm day time temperatures keeps rutting activity lower during the day, and more at night.  Colder temps increase daytime movement.  A big storm beds them down for a period of time, and when it passes, they are on the move.  Gusty, strong winds put them on edge.  These are factors that aren't necessarily measured every season but they are factors that I have experienced when I'm hunting, and they affect the timing and length of the deer rut.

 

In my specific case here in MN, I can't legally target a bass until the middle of May, so any other factor is secondary.  Its not really a seasonal factor that affects when the spawning period is, its a legal boundary I have to abide by.

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I've been fishing the tidal marshes around the Sabine river where the Elite series is held.

 

This is probably the most difficult fishing there is. We deal with all the issues associated with pre-spawn, then throw in a tide & some salt.

 

Jason Christie won by running as far north as he could to get away from it!

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