As lakes shake off the chilliness of winter, inexperienced ghosts invade the shallows, drawn to the warming results of the spring solar. They arrive to start out the method of getting ready to spawn, which can happen in a couple of brief weeks in northern climes, or months later in milder areas the place prespawn actions are protracted.

Right here in Minnesota, now we have lots of time to ponder spring bass fishing. Within the central a part of the state, ice-up dates vary from mid-November to early December. With ice-out occurring in early April, that is about 120 days of ready to catch the primary prespawn bass or else planning to enterprise south to jump-start the season; really extra on this state, as catch-and-release bass fishing is not authorized till mid-Might. Normal laws go into impact on Memorial Day weekend.

This hiatus provides a number of alternatives for getting new sort out in preparation for the season and organizing older stuff. And as I discussed, the Coldwater Interval is much shorter at decrease latitudes, so I by no means cross a winter with out a few excursions south.

Beneath the floor, largemouth bass give no thought to planning. Creatures of intuition, they’re slaves to water temperature and associated meteorological situations they’re blissfully blind to. Let’s begin with a easy definition of the Prespawn Interval: the annual section when bass transfer from deep wintering websites to shallow areas the place they resume feeding and can finally spawn. The idea of Calendar Durations was outlined by In-Fisherman founders Ron and Al Lindner who described these time-frames as guides for fish location, exercise stage, and presentation preferences.


The Prespawn Interval could be additional divided into 4 phases—ice-out, early, mid-, and late-prespawn. The place it is potential to outline these phases by way of water temperature, cowl choices, and bass exercise stage, they are often useful in defining presentation patterns and choosing lures. In different conditions, they’ll mix collectively and be tough to outline.

Angle by Latitude

As you learn this, some prespawn bass patterns have already got expired in probably the most southerly a part of the largemouth’s vary. Biologists and guides in Florida guarantee me that bass could start spawning there in December. But, curiously, some fish there proceed to mattress into Might. In Minnesota, in contrast, as soon as largemouths start bedding in a lake, the final ones to spawn, often younger small adults, could also be guarding fry only a couple weeks later.

Florida bass are in no rush, as delicate situations prevail for months. However in a local weather thought of far harsher for a warmwater fish, northern bass should push the method of manufacturing younger that may develop massive sufficient by onset of the following winter to outlive its rigors. And adults should rush to renew feeding as their time for progress is brief. In waters between these geographic extremes, native situations contribute to the graduation and length of the Prespawn Interval.

The Position of Temperature, North to South

Over the course of a yr, south Florida bass inhabit temperatures from about 58°F to 90°F, a spread of some 32 levels. Far northern fish, in distinction, endure lengthy stretches within the 30°F vary, and generally as much as 83°F or so, practically twice as broad a spectrum. This tends to make them way more environmentally resilient, timing their habits extra carefully to day size than water temperature. Southern bass are extra temperature-dependent, but in addition have prolonged phases of exercise. Their Coldwater Interval is non-existent, so spawn-related durations are tremendously prolonged, together with the Summer time Interval.

Inside days of ice-out, and infrequently earlier than it, northern river bass and a few lake-dwelling fish evacuate wintering websites and transfer to shallow prespawn feeding areas, which can additionally function spawning bays a month or so later. They’re prepared to chew, although usually spooky and choosy of their lure preferences. Panfish anglers plying shallow backwaters and bays tangle with extra then their share of huge bass that may’t resist a tiny hair jig or softbait offered on a float. And there isn’t any telling what number of massive bass I’ve caught that also carry the little jig of their jaw, often with a small float trailing behind.

The upper-40°F vary (early prespawn) is prime time for smaller swimbaits in addition to swim jigs that carry out magic with a gradual, crawling retrieve. In open areas, jerkbaits are lethal, fished at a gradual cadence with lengthy pauses. As waters heat, slow-falling lures additionally come into play: delicate stickworms both Texas- or wacky rigged, and the traditional Slug-Go, nonetheless laborious to beat for mid-prespawn bass, in addition to postspawn fish. Gentle jigs with massive trailers that gradual the autumn additionally work, particularly when shallow wooden is current or new progress of submergent vegetation.


Staging Areas

One phenomenon not usually discovered for northern prespawn bass is the idea of “staging areas.” Reservoir bass usually collect at spots of intermediate depth that provide a spread of depths to carry at. One of many best holes I’ve ever fished matches this definition. Years in the past on February 1 in South Georgia, a companion named Les and I had been exploring Lake Seminole, nonetheless one among my favourite bass waters. Water temperature was nudging into the low-50°F vary. About mid-morning, we pulled right into a small pocket alongside a creek channel bend with a deep wall of hydrilla on one facet with standing timber as effectively. Les positioned the boat for us to solid parallel to the channel.

He instantly caught a 4-pounder on a Manns 20+ crankbait and the fish thrashed lethargically towards the boat. After a solid with a jig went untouched, I picked up my crankbait rod as was quickly quick to anther massive prespawn feminine.

“This is a much bigger one,” Les boasted, lipping a fish over 7 kilos. Our motion was nearly continuous for 10 minutes, with each fish from 4 to 7 kilos.

All of the sudden, Les dropped his rod and walked again to the console of his Norris Craft. “We’re outta right here,” he acknowledged in no unsure phrases. “My buddy Van Kennedy has a event right here subsequent week and I gotta give him this spot.” With that we left probably the most superb staging space I’ve ever discovered. And immediately we all know Kennedy as the daddy of top-level Bassmaster Elite professional Steve Kennedy. Ol’ Les won’t ever understand how shut he got here to drowning that day!


Bass in mid-south latitudes stage in key areas the place they’ll feed and maintain, awaiting warming situations that may pull them towards the financial institution. Staging areas usually have a number of types of cowl and are situated at key structural places that permit bass a spread of depths to carry at. Fish have a tendency to carry deeper within the morning, shifting nearer to the floor on heat, sunny days to feed on shad and heat themselves. After staging on a spot for a time generally only a couple days, generally every week—the group could disperse throughout close by flats, shifting towards spawning areas. In different instances, the group could transfer alongside the creek channel ledges, upstream towards shallow spawning areas in heat shallow bays effectively off the principle lake.

In lots of reservoirs, staging areas are simple to identify: Marinas and riprap factors, discovered the place bridges cross feeder creeks, are bass magnets in the course of the Prespawn Interval. These steep banks provide vertical construction and canopy. Bluff banks provide the same scenario and are all the time work checking, particularly had been the bluff transitions to extra gradual sloping gravel or sand. Such spots function present checks, slowing the downstream stream, and attracting baitfish and bass.


Dialing within the Chunk

Water temperature could be key this time of yr, so preserve your temp gauge entrance and middle as you discover. Typically search for the warmest out there water. The outdated adage to fish the northwest nook of a lake or creek arm is often legitimate. Prevailing winds from that route, frequent in spring within the northern hemisphere, are blocked by excessive banks, permitting the solar’s rays to heat the shallows. In reservoirs, I’ve discovered canals within the northwest nook that warmed to nearly 50°F whereas ice shards floated in the principle physique, the place the water was a frigid 39°F. Guess the place bass wish to go.

Wind route additionally could be necessary. When robust winds push chilly, main-lake water into bays and canals, the chew drops. Cannot say if the fish flip off or depart, however I are inclined to consider the latter. Conversely, in an enclosed embayment, the windward facet could be greatest. That is as a result of the warmest water is within the higher couple inches of the floor. It floats on cooler layers so wind can pile hotter water on the windward facet and bass reply. Once more, it is all the time laborious to say if fish transfer seeking optimum situations or these situations enhance their exercise stage.

Chilly fronts in early spring push bass out to the deeper edges of a bay or off shallow flats, usually to the 8- to 15-foot depths on inside turns close to factors that lead into bays. Altering situations ought to decide the sort out and lures you select.

Presentation Views

The Prespawn Interval is probably the most thrilling time of yr for anglers, as motion could be excellent, however we have to be resourceful to learn climate and water situations, and make educated guesses on bass location and presentation. Whenever you get the reply proper, the chew could be lights-out.


Bass are inclined to group both in shallow bays, canals, or creeks, or in staging areas. Females are within the strategy of bulking as much as their most weight simply previous to the spawn in order that they feed heartily. In my former profession as a fishery biologist, I all the time marveled {that a} good proportion of lunkers we caught by electrofishing in early spring had the tails of huge gizzard shad (10 to 12 inches) protruding of their gullets.

At instances although, it is a finesse chew, with both slow-moving softbaits or gentle jigs. If the chew is gradual on spinnerbaits, chatterbaits, jigs, and cranks, downsize and gradual your retrieve drastically. First dial in location, then work on discovering the perfect baits. And do not be afraid to fish reminiscences. Bass usually comply with the identical journey routes from yr to yr and discover the identical spawning places, generally proper down to at least one explicit stump.

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