Punchin the Delta Under Water with Miller Punch weights
Punchin Delta lay-down tulies
Miller punch weights going thru the mat
Fishing a Miller punch weight
Post Spawn Bass Fishing by Ron Howe
As the spring time rituals of spawning end and hot summer days are approaching us quickly, Bass move into a post spawn mode. These post spawn fish will be in a recovery mode from the spawning period. This can be a very tough time to catch Bass.
There are many ways to temp a lazy post spawn bass into a feeding response. First I recommend using plastic worms such as flukes in shad or pink colors. Cast these near spawning areas and dead stick them or barely move the baits with small twitches and long pauses. My next bait is a drop shot. I will use this on light line like 6-8 lb fluorocarbon since the bass are wary, tired and most likely have received heavy pressure all spring. I use primarily 2 colors, Zipper worms bad blood a dark purple worm, or Zipper worms screaming pink I will use both 4 and 6 inch sizes. I recommend using a 1/8oz Berserk Baits drop shot weight. Simply stick to coves and secondary points leading away from spawning areas. Toss your drop shot up there and don’t move it! We call it dead shottin! Twitch your rod slightly 1-2 times don’t move the bait let it sit there. Watch your line they will swim away with it! Remember many males will be guarding there fry and will remain shallow! Many big females will also remain shallow for many days after spawning.
This period of skinny fish that are finicky will pass and the next phase of post spawn will be feeding time. Bass will begin to school up and start to chase bait. This is when it can be fun! TOPWATER TIME! Now we have so many choices, but here is a few of my favorites. First I like wake baits and buzz baits, I can keep these baits moving slowly and they draw tremendous strikes and catch BIG fish! I use a 7ft heavy action rod on wake baits with 20lb monofilament line. For colors I will use Trout, Baby Bass, and Bluegill colors primarily. I use a super slow retrieve at this time of year and the fish will tomahawk the bait! For buzz baits I will use Persuader double Buzzers and the Persuader Gold rush Buzz baits in white and chartreuse/white. I will use 15lb test monofilament line on a softer tipped rod with good backbone. Many Post spawn fish will just slurp the bait down and this softer tip will help to hook a few more of these fish. I always use a trailer hook in post spawn like a Daiichi bleeding bait trailer. Next is the spook type bait or zig zag topwter bait. They come in so many choices take your pick, my favorite is the good old spook made by heddon. I use 3 sizes small, medium and super spook! Shad and Baby Bass are the only colors I use. Slow walking this bait in post spawn can be deadly! If the fish are swirling on the baits and not committing to eating them I will use a popper and use very slow pops with long pauses.
Last but not least will be one of my favorites as Bass begin to gorge on bait fish Such as Shad, Bluegill, and Baby Bass its DR. Crankenstein time! There are so many Crank baits to choose from its crazy! I stick to a water column approach! Shallow ,mid, and deep. For shallow cranking I use speed traps. For mid cranking I use fat free shads, Norman deep little n’s and Strike King series 4-6 crank baits. For deep crank baits I use DD-22’s .Shad and Bluegill colors dominate my tackle box this time of year. A true crank bait rod is a must in my opinion. I recomend 7 foot for long casts and a 6-6” for target casting, the shorter rod can help you to make more accurate casts at a close distance. I prefer fiberglass rods for a softer tip allowing the bass to better inhale the bait! If all else fails drag a 3/8-1/2oz football head jig in green pumpkin super slow!
Good Luck “Ron Howe”
SENSES: Largemouth bass have the five major senses common to most animals: hearing, sight, smell, taste and touch. They have another sense, the lateral line, which is a series of sensitive nerve endings that extends from just behind the gill to the tail on each side of the fish. The lateral line can pick up underwater vibrations as subtle as a swimming baitfish. Largemouth bass hear with external ears located within the skull. They may be attracted by the ticking or popping sound of some artifical lures. But when they hear loud unfamiliar sounds, they usually swim to deeper water or cover. Bass can see in all directions, except directly below or behind. In clear water, they can see 30 feet or more. But in most bass waters, visibility is limited to 5 to 10 feet. Largemouths can also see objects that are above water. Largemouths smell through nostrils, or nares, on the snout. The nares are small passageways through which water is drawn and expelled without entering the throat. Like most fish, bass can detect minute amounts of scent in the water. Bass use their sense of touch to determine whether to reject or swallow an object. Sense of taste is not important to largemouth bass as it is to some fish species, because bass have few taste cells in their mouths.
FEEDING: Newly-hatched largemouths feed heavily on tiny crustaceans and other zooplankton until the bass reach 2 inches in length. Young largemouths eat insects and small fish, including smaller bass. Adult largemouths prey mostly on fish, but crayfish, frogs and insects are important foods in some waters. Wherever they live, bass rank high in the aquatic food chain. A bass 10 inches or longer has few enemies and will eat almost anything it can swallow. Because of its large mouth and flexible stomach, a bass can eat prey nearly half its own length. Bass inhale small foods. The bass opens its mouth quickly to suck in water and the food. It then forces the water out the gills while it either swallows or rejects the object. Bass usually grab large prey, then turn the food to swallow it headfirst. As the water warms, the metabolism of bass increases and they feed more often. Largemouths seldom eat at water temperatures below 50 degrees. From 50 to 60 degrees, feeding increases and from 68 to 80 degrees, they feed heavily. However, at temperatures above 80 degrees, feeding declines.
GROWTH: The amount bass grow in a year depends on the length of their growing season, or the number of days suitable for growth. The growing season in the south may last twice as long as it does in the north. Largemouths gain weight most quickly in water from 75 to 80 degrees. They do not grow in water colder than 50 degrees. Although bass in the south grow and mature faster, they rarely live as long as largemouths in colder, northern lakes. In southern waters, bass occasionally reach 10 years of age; in northern waters, bass may live as long as 15 years. Female bass live longer than males, so they are more apt to reach a trophy size. In one study, 30 percent of the females were 5 years or older, while only 9 percent of the males were 5 years or more.
SPAWNING: In spring, when inshore waters reach about 60 degrees, largemouth bass swim onto spawning grounds in shallow bays, backwaters, channels and other areas protected from prevailing winds. Spawning grounds usually have firm bottoms of sand, gravel, mud or rock. Bass seldom nest on thick layer of silt. Some spawning areas are in open water; others have sparse weeds, boulders or logs. Male bass may spend several days selecting their nest sites. The beds are usually in 1 to 4 feet of water, but may be deeper in clear water. The males seldom nest where they can see other nesting males. For this reason, beds are generally at least 30 feet apart, but may be closer if weeds, boulders, sunken logs or stumps prevent the males from seeing each other. Largemouths spawn when the water reaches 63 to 68 degrees and temperatures remain within this range for several days. Cold fronts may cause water temperatures to drop, which interrupts and delays spawning. A female bass lays from 2000 to 7000 eggs per pound of body weight. She may deposit all of her eggs in one nest or drop them at several different sites before leaving the spawning grounds. After spawning, the female recuperates in deep water, where she does not eat for 2 to 3 weeks. Alone on the nest the male hovers above the eggs, slowly fanning them to keep off the silt and other debris. He does not eat while guarding the eggs, but will attack other fish that swim near the nest. Sunfish often prey on bass eggs or newly hatched fry. In waters with large sunfish populations, the panfish can seriously hamper bass reproduction. Bass eggs hatch in only 2 days at 72 degrees, but take 5 days at 67 degrees. Cold weather following spawning will delay hatching. If the shallows drop to 50 degrees, the fry will not emerge for 13 days. At lower temperatures, the eggs will fail to develop. A severe cold front sometimes causes males to abandon the nest, resulting in a complete loss of eggs or fry. From 2000 to 12,000 eggs hatch from the typical nest. Of these, only 5 to 10 are likely to survive to reach 10 inches in length.
GENERAL FACTS ABOUT BASS LOCATION: Bass are cold blooded creatures, meaning that their body temperature is directly related to the temperature of the water in which they swim. Thus the temperature of the water can have a great deal of impact on where bass will be and how active they are on any given day. In general, bass in most lakes and reservoirs are most active when the water ranges from approximately 60 to 85 degrees. Bass will be less active in colder or warmer water. In cold weather, bass will usually seek out the warmest water they can find, provided they don’t have to move too far to find it. The amount of cover ( weeds, rocks, submerged wood, etc. ) that exists in the water varies dramatically from one lake to the next. Some lakes are full of weeds, others have acres of standing timber, still others appear barren, with little visible cover at all. The amount, location and type of cover available to the bass will also help determine its location at any given time during the year. Cover is not as important to smallmouth bass as it is to largemouths, and is important to spotted bass only at certain times of the year. Perhaps most important, the bass is driven to new locations throughout the four seasons by its need for food and procreation. Bass will move to certain areas for spawning. Other areas may better serve their forage needs. Bass do not migrate in the same sense that waterfowl do. An individual bass may not move a great distance during the course of the year; rather, bass try to locate in areas where all their seasonal needs can be met without traveling long distances. Some species of bass inhabit different depth zones than others. Largemouth bass, in most bodies of water, are shallow water creatures much of the year. Smallmouth bass spend most of their time deeper than largemouths. Spotted bass have been tracked at depths of 100 feet, but will also inhabit shallow water during the course of the year.
SEASONAL LARGEMOUTH BASS LOCATION: Winter. In most bodies of water, the largemouth bass will locate near the deepest parts of the lake, but usually not in extremely deep water. Many bass will navigate to the main lake and hold around bluffs, channel ledges and channel banks, and the ends and sides of deeper points. Food is not a tremendous factor driving largemouth bass location during the winter months; bass consume far less forage in cold water than in warm water, and digestion takes much longer as well. Finding the warmest possible water can be a major key to largemouth location now. Early Spring. The slowly rising temperature of the water and the lengthening daylight period are cues to largemouth bass that they should begin moving shallower. Look for ditches, channel banks, stump or fencerows and other structures leading from deep to shallow water in the prespawn period; these serve as pathways along which bass make a move to their spring locations. Largemouths seldom stay in shallow water for extended lengths of time in early spring; rather they hold where deep and shallow water meet and make short feeding forays into shallower areas. Breaklines are critical structures during the prespawn period; here largemouths have access to both deep and shallow water only a few feet apart. By locating over a breakline, a dropoff at the end of a big flat from 25 to 8 feet in depth, the bass can hold in deep water when less active and travel up into the shallows to feed. Determining the timing of these short, infrequent feeding movements is critical to fishing success; check them several times throughout the course of the day. Spring Spawn. Largemouth bass prefer to spawn in shallow water. They often bed in coves and tributaries protected from the chilling effects of a harsh north wind. The nest will usually be no deeper than the depth at which sunlight can penetrate to incubate the eggs; this is seldom deeper than 4 feet. Bass like a hard bottom condition for spawning, as opposed to mud or silt. But these fish are highly adaptable, they have been known to spawn in the tops of submerged stumps and on old tires. Post Spawn. After spawning, many largemouth bass reverse their movements along ditches, channel banks and other migration routes and move back out to deeper channel structures. However, if there is sufficient cover in shallow water, they may not move far and may stay quite close to their spawning grounds for extended periods. Summer. Convex structure: humps, rockpiles, saddles and the like is a major key to largemouth location in summer. Bass will locate on these structures and tend to move shallow or deeper on them as their mood dictates. Many largemouths will move into shallower water at night to feed. In reservoirs without much current movement, stratification occurs in hot weather. Lower layers of the lake may be poor in dissolved oxygen. any flow, however insignificant, can increase dissolved oxygen levels and stack up largemouth bass; check for schools to be holding around channel drop offs and ledges. Fall. Largemouths tend to follow their forage more in the fall than in other months, which can make them hard to locate. Rather than relating to structural breaklines or objects, they may be out in open water, chasing big schools of shad. Largemouth bass binge feed in the fall. Food is plentiful and they take advantage of the best feeding opportunities. Often small, scattered groups of bass suspend offshore or hold at the ends of long mainlake points waiting for the right opportunity to bust a big school of baitfish. These feeding binges often occur 2 or 3 times a day at scattered intervals.
Lets get to understanding what Bass tend to due in summer time. Bass have finished spawning and have began to move to there summer time spots. In summer Bass like to be in the shade as much as they can. Look for docks weeds or big logs or trees that provide shade from the bank any thing a Bass can hide in or under. Bass don’t like direct sunlight it makes them feel unsafe. Bass in lakes will move deep on steeper walls and sharper dropping points on the main lake but will always be shallow early in the day. In summer Bass will tend to feed more on bait fish like shad,minnows and blue gill as well as baby bass so tend to use these colors in your approach. Try top waters early in the morning like Buzz baits, Spooks and Poppers to keep it simple and keep the frog around for fishing heavy weeds and cover. Ledge fishing also comes into play as well as offshore deep Island tops. Deep crank baits like a Norman dd-22 10″ power worms and Jigs will work on these offshore areas.
In bodies of water that have a dam that lets out water or in a Tidal system current will play a major roll in fish location. Bass will tend to stay near current for better food and oxygen or sometimes right in the middle of the current like a trout trying to stay cool!.