From my experience guiding this winter and into the pre-spawn bass fishing period on Sam Rayburn Reservoir, in East Texas, I was able to repeatedly observe the ways in which bass transitioned back and forth from deep water to key, shallower holding areas in preparation for the spawn. Locating and catching big bass as they transition back and forth follows a pattern and this information is valuable and worth storing in your memory vault regardless of where in the country you are chasing fish. Timing may be different, but the patterns can certainly be duplicated.
Tips For Late Winter Bass Fishing
During late winter, one of the best pieces of advice I can give is to follow the bait. This makes it relatively easy to stay on fish. Find the bait, and generally, you can stay on a good school of bass for some time. Use your imaging unit to locate schools of shad, and once you do, probe around the school to get bit. In this late winter, “not-quite-pre-spawn” phase, the temperature fluctuations that accompanied cold fronts would create two distinct situations as far as where the bait was located:
- On the warmer, stable successive days, the shad were almost always holding near bottom in 20’ to 25’.
- On days after a cold front, the shad would congregate in suspending balls around the 30’ to 40’ mark.
Point being, the bait went from shallower holding zones to deeper suspending patterns with temperature changes. In these offshore scenarios, once the bait was located, I’d drag big football head jigs near any bottom structure close to bait, or throw an Alabama rig loaded with EVOLVE VibraGRUBS in 3’’ white shadow. You can really do some damage in this scenario. I’d suggest Seaguar Kanzen in a heavier test for tossing these big offerings.
Tips For Pre-Spawn Bass Fishing Period
As winter started to taper off and slowly warming, longer days made finding fish on bait a bit harder. It was time to start looking at secondary points and channel bends near obvious potential bass spawning flats. These areas can be common in a lake, so you may have to spend some time probing these locations until you locate a wad of fish. I particularly like when I find grass in these areas. If you can find vegetation near these sharp channel bends and running along and up points near traditional spawning flats, it’s absolutely worth spending time here.
The pre-spawn period in East Texas is where you’ll see a red/orange lipless crankbait on almost every boat, and my boat is no exception. After getting on fish, I put my lipless rod down and start slow-rolling an orange/red/craw patterned swim jig with my swimmer in pumpkin oil through both deep and shallow grass. Popping this offering through deeper grass clumps and letting it fall down the backside just always seemed to put kicker fish in the boat. You can get into BIG bass on this pattern, and because you are also fishing around vegetation or grass. I am running 40lb braided line, on a Dobyns rod. This would allow me to rip the swimjig through grass when I needed to, and secure a hookset on long casts down deep. Keep these patterns in mind and get out there and shake the winter blues! Tight lines!
Updated February 16th, 2022 at 9:01 AM CT