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Fishing the Pre-Spawn

Largemouth Bass:

The pre-spawn period is the easiest time to catch largemouth bass. In the weeks before the spawn, bass start a virtual feeding frenzy. Look for them in waters near their spawning grounds, but slightly deeper. They'll even move into the shallows on a warm day. Also, they'll move deeper if the water cools, so choose the depth you fish according to the water temp. You can catch feeding bass in water as cool as 50 degrees, but it's difficult. The fishing will pick up in another five degrees, though. Because the bass have only a little food, they cruise the shallows, and sometimes the depths, looking for a meal. One technique I like, if you're fishing a place where you can see the bass with out spooking them, is to get away from the shore, and break up my profile a bit by ducking. Stay well within casting distance. Then, with as little movement as possible, cast a four or five inch, unweighted plastic salamander or worm. Pull it right over there noses if you can, and let it drop when you're as close as you'll get, let it sink(but not on their backs).They'll usually take it on the drop, but if they don't, twitch it a bit.

Smallmouth Bass:

Smallies lie in a near dormant state until the water temperature hits 50 degrees F, at which time they start moving in towards their spawning areas. They use the same spots annually, if possible, so if you find fish in an area one year, try the next season. Chances are you'll catch some of the same fish. Look for bass in cover near their chosen spawning grounds, like docks, fallen trees, and boulders. If you can find a dark bottomed bay, fish it. They warm faster than the rest of the lake, which attracts baitfish, and, in turn, pre-spawn smallmouths.


Look for crappie in smaller bays with somewhat calm water, plenty of food and decent cover. Crappie aren't as picky as other times of the year, so jigs don't have to be moving, and can be tied underneath a bobber. A good depth is about 3 to 4 feet. I was fishing a small lake with two friends and we were there for an hour before catching anything, a small crappie. We caught upwards of forty crappie in forty-five minutes, some pushing a pound 1 1/2 pounds. What I'm trying to say is, crappie will be in groups. We caught most on jigs under bobbers, but I caught a few on a small minnow plug and a spinner. Little spoons work well, too.


1. Depending on the day, walleyes can range from 5 to 45 feet of water.

2. Pre-spawn walleyes will be in shallow looking for forage. This is probably the best time to fish from shore, especially at night.

3.You want to use live bait most of the time. When you don't or can't use bright flashy colors, especially if the water is murky.

4.When you're not using live bait, you should use stimulator colors, or colors that look like food.

5.During the pre-spawn, walleyes are especially aggressive, so you won't have to worry about them light strikes.

6.Casting jigs from shore with a nightcrawler threaded on it will probably be your best bet. Minnows also work well for walleyes.

7. Casting crankbaits can provide a very succesfull fishing day.

8. The hard part is locating the fish.


-One thing you have to remember: the seasons aren't always predictable. It's April 27th, Iowa, and the bass in my favorite farm pond are already spawning. They're "not supposed to be" spawning for another two or three weeks.


Just in case:

Just in case your skeptical of the success rates of fishing for bass in the pre-spawn, some pictures will be posted here soon of some bass we caught on a short fishing trip, including three 21 inchers, and most almost 18, to a small farm pond. See pics of some of the bigger bass here