To catch post spawn bass break out your favorite top water baits, a spinnerbait, and a shallow water crankbait. Hit the water with a strong trolling motor and a good knowledge of the bass spawning ground on the lake you plan to fish. The plan I use is to cover as much water as I possible, looking for a couple of specific things. First being bass fry, if you find clouds of bass fry, you will find bass both protecting them or eating them. Second, be on the lookout for the shad spawn, it usually follows the bass spawn by just a few degrees in water temp and if your area water has warmed quickly then the shad will be on rip rap banks and circling dock pylons; making for a bass buffet.
There are exceptions to every rule, so much so that I like to say there are no rules in bass fishing. So the following is based off of some of my experiences that seem to be common throughout the country. From the left coast to Florida, Louisiana to Tennessee, I have a plan that works for me.
You’ll need a strong trolling motor battery, plenty of time, patients and a never quit attitude. During post spawn, bass will be spread out. Finding them stacked up in a specific area is difficult to do, however, not impossible. For this reason, I like to cover a lot of water.
Adding to the confusion of post spawn bass is water temperatures. The water temperatures are well into the comfort zone for bass, usually the mid sixties to low seventies. In warmer water, a bass strike zone is larger, and it is feeding more regularly. Sounds as if we should catch one on every cast; however, they are worn out from spawning. Spawning activities drain a bass, and many larger bass will simply pull off the banks and suspend to recuperate.
Suspended bass with large strike zones set up a fantastic top water opportunity. Cast to the bank and work your favorite top water back to the boat. Make sure your retrieves cover water from the bank to at least 10 feet of water; deeper if you have very clear water. My favorite top water baits for this time of the year are the ‘Yellow Magic’, which is a popper style bait, and the Heddon Torpedo, which is a prop bait. Both can be worked quickly to create a lot of disturbance or worked slowly barely making a ripple. I start with a pretty fast cadence and work slower until I find the exact presentation the bass will strike. The goal is to find the fastest possible retrieve a bass will strike your bait, thus allowing you to cover more water in a given time period. I have experienced strikes on baits moving across the surface fast enough to be a buzz bait or so slow it feels like watching the grass grow on the bank. It’s a matter of simply experimenting until you find the proper pace. Don’t give up, bass in a post spawn condition will hit top water baits all day long. I have had some of my best catches in the middle of the day under bright skies. When bass suspend, and the skies are bright, your baits cast a fantastic shadow that allows bass to really zero in on your bait.
As with any top water pattern, you’ll miss strikes. It’s just the nature of the presentation. However, this bass is not lost. With the warmer waters and faster metabolisms, follow up strikes are common. First I like to cast the same bait back to them and try to present it in such a way that the top water appears even more injured from the first strike. If that fails, I’ll switch to the spinnerbait. Casting past the target and burn it to the area of the top water strike then kill it. Letting it flutter a few feet. The flashing blades and fall usually will catch bass that are now spooked off the top water. Down size the blades on your spinnerbait to match the hatch. Shad are small in the spring, and so are the fry. I like to use smaller willow leaf blades, and if the conditions allow I’ll even down size my spinnerbait to a quarter ounce. This is difficult if it’s windy.
If you have a lot of cover, laydowns, stumps, boat docks or other hard targets crashing a spinnerbait or shallow running crank bait into objects can be extremely effective in post spawn. Bass Fry like to use hard objects to hide or associate on. Where you find bass fry, you’ll find bass. If your water temperatures are into the seventies, the lakes shad population will also be thinking about spawning. Shad use hard objects to spawn against. Make sure you have a good set of polarized sunglasses on. While seeing clouds of bass fry is pretty easy when they are running the surface, once they get a few feet down or there is a ripple on the water from a breeze, bass fry get difficult to see. Polarized sunglasses will also help you see the isolated underwater cover better. This time of year it’s not uncommon to find specific patterns. For example, crashing a spinnerbait into stumps in 3 ft of water. A good pair of sunglasses will help you see these stumps at a distance, allowing you to cast to them before spooking any bass that might be resting against them.
Where to start looking. Anywhere bass will spawn; large flats and the backs of major creeks are your best bet. Make sure there are travel routes to and from deep water, while bass may not be using these travel routes at this time, they had to find the flats somehow. So your better areas will have good migration routes from winter hangouts to spring spawning grounds.
If your bass are finicky and just won’t cooperate with the top water bite, a shallow running square bill crankbait is my second choice for dissecting a bank, point, or flat quickly. Using a variety of retrieves to figure out the cadence that bass want, I will crash a square bill crankbait off of objects in and around spawning grounds. Usually if the top water bite just won’t happen, bass have moved out to the first drop and are a little too deep to see the surface given the water clarity. This is when the rattle and banging action of a crankbait can be effective at catching post spawn bass.
Post spawn bass watching fry or feeding on fry will be spread out across the spawning region. As the fry move around so do the bass. The cannibalistic nature of a bass is to eat or be eaten, so no matter what the food source you’ll find bass. On your next post spawn trip try putting your trolling motor down and cover water. Using a top water bait and a medium retrieve cover as much water as you can in your given time frame and see how many quality bass you can catch. Don’t stop when you catch one, keep going looking for the next hungry bass. Once you find the cadence don’t stop, cover lots of water. Remember your looking for scattered, active, post spawn bass. While you might find a couple on the same piece of cover, your best bet is to cover water looking for agressive bass. You might be surprised at what kind of bass you’ll be able to catch from your local water ways while everyone else is dragging senkos hoping to finesse a bite from a swimmer. Find a nice day, make sure your trolling motor batteries are charged and pull an “Ike” and never give up.
Learn More about Mike Cork