Spookin’ Up Springtime Spawners
There’s nothing more exciting than a big bass exploding on your topwater bait. One of my favorite and often overlooked times of year to throw a topwater, is during the springtime spawning period. Catching a Spawning largemouth bass on a Zara Spook can get wild up shallow.
Fine Tuning Spawning Bass On Topwater
I remember reading a great article about catching spawning bass on topwater many years ago. It was very interesting and I ran right out to give it a try. I wasn’t as successful as the writer of the article, but I did land a few good fish that spring and learned a lot. Many spawns have come and gone since then and with them lessons learned. Fine tuning these lessons each spring has led to a proven tactic and often my primary pattern for springtime spawners. Here are a few of those lessons and an introduction to this exciting and explosive way to catch a few of those shallow largemouth during the spawn.
Pre-Spawn Bass On Topwater
Pre-spawn bass are hungry. Big females can be caught with topwater baits in deep water. However, it’s best when you can find the bass up shallow. Prior to the spawn. There are always a few bass shallow. However, during the pre-spawn there can be areas absolutely loaded with hungry pre-spawn bass. A quick way to begin your search is to check sections of your lake for warm water. The areas that warm first will load up first.
There are several things to consider when searching your home waters for pre-spawn bass. If you’re fortunate enough to have several bodies of water to fish your topwater season can be prolonged. Locating the warmest water early in the spring is key to finding big bass. The spawning bass needs to be shallow enough to be enticed by your topwater presentation.
There are many factors that determines water temperature. The size of the lake one factor. A smaller body of water will warm sooner than a larger one. Water clarity can make a difference as well. Stained or muddy water will warm sooner than clear water. Springs running into certain areas of the lake can create early spawning situations. These areas should be considered in your research. Choose the smaller body of water to fish first. This research can take some time, but once you have it figured out you can enjoy a longer spawning pattern where you fish. Year after year.
When you find water a few degrees warmer than surrounding waters tie on a popper or a Zara Spook and slowly work it over these bays or pockets. The bass will let you know if they are there. Oftentimes, these strikes can be explosive and in the middle of seemingly barren water as they are cruising in search of prey to eat and cover to spawn near. This lack of visible cover can cause you to let your guard down as the strike can come from anywhere. This just makes topwater fishing for pre-spawn bass the most fun and exciting. Don’t be surprised if you miss a few strikes as the bass are often only trying to get the topwater bait out of its spawning area.
Locate Spawning Bass With Topwater Bait
Working a topwater lure in likely spawning areas is a great way to locate bass that are moving up. If they explode on the bait that’s great. If they roll or boil at your topwater lure that can be great as well. This will let you know that there are bass moving up into this particular part of the lake and even if they don’t completely take your presentation you can follow up with another bait, like a wacky worm. This follow up technique is responsible for many boated bass and works great during the pre-spawn when those big females are feeding up for the spawn.
Throw The Spook During The Spawn
Now that you have located some good spawning areas and caught a few bass during the pre-spawn you know where they will spawn. Those bass you caught earlier have taken up position next to cover like a rock, log or stump to spawn. They aren’t as hungry now but they are very protective of their spot. Topwater lures can really make a protective bass strike, but it has to be put in the right place. During the spawn bass are real tight to cover and their strike zone is small, but with a well-placed lure they will slam your bait.
Multiple cast to the same spot is key during the spawn. If it looks like a good spot to spawn it might take several casts to aggravate the bass into striking. Oftentimes, if there is a bass there, it will strike. When you are confident in the area your fishing the patience this technique requires is easy to come by. Sometimes two different topwater baits will get it done. Keep a couple different topwater baits on the deck to mix it up. Don’t forget that follow up bait. This is a technique for waters where you can’t see the bass or the bed.
This topwater tactic is best used in water where you can’t see the bass or the bed. Topwater baits will catch bass that you can see, but other baits might work better if you know exactly where to put it. When targeting likely spawning cover a topwater bait is great for reaching under overhangs and with long cast. Let your bait sit for several seconds and just give a twitch to start. Oftentimes the strike will come during or a split second after the twitch. Leaving your bait sitting motionless aggravates the bass more than if you work it out of its area quickly. Be patient your trying to get a bite from a bass that isn’t eating.
Post Spawn Bass Get Hungry
Post-spawn bass can be tough to deal with. They are resting after the spawn and sometimes can be hard to get them to bite. The post-spawn; however, offers the bass and the angler a few options that the other spawning periods do not. These options include the bluegill spawn, the shad spawn and the fry guarder patterns. I will break down each pattern and the topwater approach to each one.
The Bluegill Spawn
Big bass are exhausted after moving off beds in the spring. The spawn is hard on big female bass and it takes a lot out of them. This is why it can be tough to get a bite during this time. There are two things that you have going for you during this slow time and that is that bass spawn at different times and they are hungry after the spawn. Depending on the part of lake or even certain bays and tributaries associated with the lake bass can be more active in certain areas. You should have a good idea if you’ve been fishing throughout the spawn. Locating active bass is key to catching post-spawn bass in the spring.
The bluegill spawn occurs shortly after the bass spawn. This activity tends to stimulate the otherwise sluggish and recovering largemouth bass. Those pesky bluegills are one of the reasons that post-spawn bass are so exhausted. They are hungry anyway and they are mad. This can be the perfect combination for the topwater angler. Prop baits and a poppers work great for enticing these bass to strike. A walking bait like a Zara Spook or Sammy works as well and is a great bait to cover a lot water in your search.
The Shad Spawn
Like the bluegills shad will spawn a few weeks after the bass. This few weeks is plenty of time for the post-spawn females to recover and seeking an easy meal. The shad spawn can stimulate post-spawn bass into a feeding frenzy. A topwater bait becomes the ideal presentation in this situation. A popper or walking bait worked erratically matches the shads flashy movements and can generate some great topwater action. I like to throw a Heddon Pop’n Image during the shad spawn. It’s a popper that is easy to walk. Walk the popper fast to get the attention needed. Especially when there’s a lot of bait around.
Spawning shad can be tough to locate. Water temperature is the trigger, but it seems as though there are so many other variables to the shad spawn that it’s just easier to look for those telltale signs. Birds can give them away and of course the flicker of the shad themselves will pinpoint the areas they are spawning. Once located you can almost bet there are some bass taking advantage and a topwater presentation can see a lot of action.
Bass Fry Guarders Slam Topwater Baits
By the time bass fry are big enough to begin to get out on their own many of the big post-spawn females have moved out of the area. They will migrate toward the main lake and deeper water. There can still be some big ones lingering in the shallows. Prepare to catch post spawning largemouth bass on a Zara Spook,at this time.
More times than not the bass that are guarding the seasons fry are the males that aren’t as big as those caught earlier in the season on your topwater quest. What these fry guarders lack in size they make up for in aggression. Sight fishing is a great way to pinpoint fry as they flutter on the surface as they swim from cover to cover in shallow water. There are bluegills, shad and even other bass gorging on the fry and the male will fight for his young of the year with a vengeance.
Like during the shad spawn an erratic action imposed on your topwater presentation is the deal. Working down a bank casting to likely cover will generate strikes from fry guarders. While moving along be sure to keep your eyes open for those fluttering fry and make a quick cast to them. The bass are keeping a tight reign on the school of fry and won’t move very far to strike if he don’t think they are in danger. A cast to the middle of or ahead of the fry, if you can tell what direction they’re moving, can get a quick reaction. Remember not all of those big bass have moved out and could either be guarding or even eating the fry so be ready for a possible giant to smash your bait.
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