Power through the spawn

About the author

Kevin VanDam

Kevin VanDam

In the world of professional bass fishing, Kevin VanDam is at the pinnacle and arguably the best in the world.

To find quantities of bass, you have to be efficient at covering water.

That’s why I’ve made power fishing the foundation to my success. I not only can cover water fast but I can mix up techniques to find the best one on that day for that season.

It works exceptionally well from spring through fall, but the dynamic and fast-changing spawning season can make it perplexing. The mood of the fish and their willingness to react to a lure can change 180 degrees in less than a day.

It’s a tricky time of the year.

I’ve seen periods when bass would attack anything nearby then suddenly you can’t get one to bite for hours.

On the positive side, the spawn is fairly predictable and the depth zone is pretty well established. Things like a full moon phase, rising water temperature and emerging vegetation on some lakes tell us the fish will be concentrated shallow.

Now, most people think they still have to throw slow-moving or finesse baits to get bites during the spawn. They’re fishing blindly and hoping to run into spawning areas where there are concentrations of bass.

Now, I agree that soft plastic presentations will catch spawning bass — once you find that concentration of fish.

But, I still believe power fishing offers the best option until you locate the bedding areas. Admittedly, some fast-moving lures aren’t as effective, but there are those that can be worked fast that appeal to the bass’ spawning instincts.

For example, bluegills are a nemesis to bass when they are spawning. With that in mind, I may choose a spinnerbait, jerkbait or walking topwater like a KVD Sexy Dawg, or a soft plastic jerkbait like a KVD Caffeine Shad, in bluegill colors. These are baits that have a lot of action but I can keep them close to the cover or in specific areas where I suspect the bass are holding.

Of course, if the water is ultra-clear you can see fish roaming or locked on spawning areas. When I can’t see them, I maximize my opportunities by keeping my boat positioned and my bait stays in the zone the fish are spawning for the longest period of time.

For example, if fishing line of bushes, I parallel them with a Caffeine Shad. touching the outside edges of the bushes. Ditto if I'm fishing the inside edge of a grass line.

I’m constantly thinking of casting angles and boat position so that my bait spends the maximum amount of time where the bass are swimming.

Again, you never know exactly what mode or how aggressive the fish are on any given day. That’s why I experiment with lures to determine which is best for that moment.

If they hit my topwater but also smoke my spinnerbait, I’ll stay with the spinnerbait knowing I can cover more water faster. I always start with faster presentations and work my way to slower techniques.

There are times when fishing faster may not be the best way to catch them, but it may be the best way to find them. In other words, if I see bass swat and miss my lures, it exposes them and I know try a slower slow presentation.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve used a spinnerbait to find spawning fish then went back through an area with a Caffeine Shad or Ocho stickworm and seined ‘em out.

When choosing lures, I’m factoring in depth zone, water clarity and cover, opting for those that generate strikes and help me land them. In other words, a buzzbait might generate misses while a KVD Splash is better way to get the fish to fully commit.

Conversely, a topwater may draw strikes over vegetation, but the higher percentage bites may come from flipping a Texas-rigged Rodent (creature bait).

When I see a bass locked on a bed I will drop a variety of soft plastics on him until I get a reaction. If I can get a bass to acknowledge my lure, I’ll spend time on it. But if he’s ignoring my lure, I move on and may try him later.

advertisement

advertisement