Spring time is almost here and we’re all ready for the pre-spawn. The first thing to remember is to keep an open mind when attacking a body of water during this time of year. Spring time offers three different stages of fish, pre-spawn, spawn, and post-spawn, at any given time, once the water hits 60 degrees.
The first stage fish will experience is pre-spawn. These are the fish I try to focus on the most because they are generally easier to catch than spawners plus they generally weigh a little more.
The water will warm the fastest in the north end of the lake, the prime areas to look for are pockets protected from the north winds that have a dark bottom. I always look for a migration route from deep winter holding areas that lead to the protected pockets and bays. A key cove would have a long deep point leading out to the main body with a channel in it. The important thing to look for is a piece of structure that will hold the fish in the pocket when springtime cold fronts move in and out, look for a rock pile or piece wood in the pocket near a channel, this will also give the bass a place to stage on their way up to spawn and on their way out after spawning. If you find this pocket with some kind of small vertical drop maybe 2 or 3 feet, right before the flat in the very back, you found a money spot.
A lake will not be the same temperature everywhere at once, which is the key to finding pre-spawn bass though out spring. The first waves of pre-spawn fish are in the back of pockets on the north end of the lake, the second wave will be at the mouth of that pocket. You can follow this pattern all the way down lake to the dam. Once that first wave begins to spawn, start moving down the lake following the pre-spawners. This would go first the north end, the middle sections, and then the south end where a lake will generally be the deepest. The other good thing about this pattern is the lack of fishing pressure. Most anglers try to catch those moody spawning fish because they can see them, however so can everyone else.
When it comes to lure selection I keep it simple, Big baits. These fish are Big, shallow and more aggressive now than they will be at any other time of year. Swim baits,Persuader spinner baits, big rip baits, big jigs, and big senkos. If you usually throw a 4 inch worm on a drop shot rig for these fish, go up to a 6 inch worm or go from a 4 inch senko to a 7 inch senko. This is the time of year that the T-bone vs. a hot dog theory is very true. A big fish is just like us, a full grown fish will want a meal. I will pass up a hot dog to have one big juicy T-bone steak; the big pre-spawn females are the same way. As a rule I tend to stay with natural colors. Also I try to have a little amount of red flake in all my worms, senkos, and jigs to help it look more like a crawdad. Crawdads and trout are high protein meals that help females nourish their eggs.
When you find an area that has bigger than average size males beginning to make nests slow down and fish the outside breaks and cover, close to them, thoroughly. This area is where the big girls sit and feed until conditions are just right for spawning. Big alpha males attract the biggest females and those big pretty females want those prime spawning areas belonging to the biggest males.
Follow the pre-spawn, throw big baits, and be patient; you’ll get a big picture fish. Hint: this is also the time of year when planted rainbow trout find themselves using the same waters as GIANT largemouths.