Prespawn fishing is the best time of the season to target big bass. Largemouth are at their seasonal heaviest, swimming in shallow water, and seem to be more interested than usual in hyper aggressively attacking fishing lures.
In the video above, touring bass angler, all-star dad, and friend of the program, Brian Latimer breaks down some his favorite baits for targeting largemouth during the prespawn. While this video is filmed near Brian’s home state of South Carolina, he explains how these tactics and principles work for prespawn bass anglers everywhere. Swamp swimming Floridians or the ‘’Yoopers’’ of Michigan’s upper peninsula who push snow six months out of the year can take appreciation from these tips, and I bet you can too.
What Is The Largemouth Bass Prespawn?
The “prespawn” period is the precursor to the bass’ annual spawning process. The unofficial start of the prespawn is when spring water temperatures linger between 50-60 degrees. During this time, bass are not quite spawning, but they know it’s around the corner. This uptick in water temperatures alerts bass and triggers them to start their yearly rituals, including swimming to shallow spawning grounds while seemingly gobbling up every minnow, craw, or bug along the way.
The prespawn migration is similar to like driving to your aunt or uncles for the holidays. It’s something that happens every year around the same time, and you usually take the same route to get there. Bass do the same thing during the spawn. But instead of stopping at a roadside Mcdonald’s, bass pull up to prespawn feeding locations like secondary points, creek channels, and break lines where minnows and crawfish replace the burgers and shakes.
Anglers take advantage of this period by rigging prespawn lures and targeting the area’s bass roam, which is usually feeding locations adjacent to where the bass plan to spawn.
Now that you’ve watched the video above (didn’t you?), and learned more about the prespawn, here’s a deeper look at the baits displayed.
Lipless crankbaits are one of the first baits anglers tie on early in the spring when prowling for prespawn bass. Flat sided hardbaits loaded with internal rattling bb’s from brands like Rapala, Bill Lewis, and the Googan Squad sink and swim with a tight, uniform action. The benefit of the ”sink” is that lipless crankbaits can be fished effectively at multiple depths. Use slower retrieves with the rod tip pointed down to get your bait swimming in deep water and faster retrieves with the rod pointed up to fish lipless crankbaits effectively in shallow water.
The tight, consistent swimming action from flat-sided crankbaits, like lipless crankbaits, is also thought to be more inviting to fish in cool water because of its subtle action compared to other, wider wobbling hardbaits.
Prespawn Lipless Crankbait Pro-Tip: Use lipless crankbaits to target bass as they make their way back to shallow bays. It’s the bait you should use when bass are inching up closer to spawning flats but are still swimming in deeper water.
Topwater (Worked Very Slowly)
While most anglers wait until later in the season, a topwater bait worked over potential spawning grounds is enough to drive the nearby bass absolutely bananas. The key is to slowly wind your bait just enough to impart action but slow enough to fool leary bass into taking a swipe, which is often light and ginger compared to topwater explosions displayed later in the summer. Use a small Whopper Plopper, Mini Zara Spook, or other topwater baits that work well in slow motion.
Prespawn Topwater Pro Tip: Try fishing topwaters tight to the shoreline or shallow water areas containing grouping bass. Slowly twitching, buzzing, or walking a bait over the top of a shallow water prespawn bass is a lowkey way to crush early season fish.
Spinnerbait or Bladed Jigs
The Spinnerbait is a go-to bait for anglers year-round, but its ability to bang off rocks or wood while slipping through emerging spring grass makes it a unique prespawn bait. If you’re fishing a new lake in the spring and have no idea what to tie on, start with a bladed jig or spinnerbait and cover ground quickly. Fish these baits slowly near the areas that look juicy (full of bass) and then burn them a little faster past the boring-looking stuff. This technique will help you break down a new spring bass fishery faster than almost anything else.
Prespawn Bladed Bait/Spinnerbait Pro Tip: Target shoreline cover like brush, docks, and rocks. Winding spinnerbaits parallel to the bank, while keeping your rod positioned high above your head is an excellent way to keep the blades buzzing over the bass cruising the shallows in the spring.
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