Finishing strong during the postspawn

Cody Meyer

I try not to pay attention to the overall Tackle Warehouse Bassmaster Elite Qualifier standings, but I’m pleased to see I’m currently fourth among the guys fishing Opens EQs. No matter which circuit I’ve fished in the past, prespawn tournaments have always been about survival for me.

I usually struggle until after the bass spawn. Then I climb back into contention with better finishes. Now that we’re entering the postspawn phase, I hope this pattern of performance continues for me over the final five EQ tournaments.

Although I avoided bombing in any of the first four events, I never got close to a Top 10 either. I need to make that happen in some of the remaining tournaments to ensure I qualify for the Bassmaster Elite Series.

I’ve been having so much fun fishing Bassmaster tournaments again. The anticipation of the boat draw, and planning where and when to fish from the beginning to the end of each tournament day is something I’ve missed with other formats.

I’m a little worried about the next EQ on Oklahoma’s Lake Eufaula. It’s a massive body of water, and I’ve never fished there before.

I was driving through Oklahoma awhile back and saw a sign stating that superstar Carrie Underwood was born in Muskogee, which isn’t far from Lake Eufaula. I’d like to call her for some bass info before the off-limits period, but I suspect her phone number is hard to come by.

Thankfully, the Eufaula tournament takes place in June, so it will be an early postspawn event. That’s my favorite time to fish because there are so many things going on. It’s the beginning of the offshore bite when you can tap into big schools of hungry female bass. There will also be bass up on the bank guarding fry.

Bluegill beds

A really fun way for me to catch bass is when they target spawning bluegill. The first time I got onto this was in 2011 at Lake Ouachita. Now it’s something I always try to take advantage of when bluegill are spawning. On many lakes, bluegill spawn three times a year on a full moon.

These panfish move up to spawn right after the bass leave their nests. There may be 50 to 100 bluegill spawning in one big area where their beds look like craters on the moon. Wolf packs of bass hang around near the beds and slip in for an easy meal.

I’ve seen wolf packs of 20 to 30 bass tear through a bluegill bedding area. It’s like watching Shark Week when killer whales slaughter seals that dive into the water from an island.

Some of the biggest bass stay shallow after spawning to gorge on bluegill. I might catch three or four bass from a bluegill bed and go on to the next one. Then I’ll circle back and catch more bass from the same bed.

Sometimes I won’t catch anything from a bluegill bed the first time I fish it, but I’ll catch bass there later the same day. It’s definitely a timing deal.

I rely on three baits in this situation. One is the Evergreen One Bug’s Popper. I work it very slowly over the beds. Bluegill always come up to look at it. Then a bass will run them off and blow up on the popper.

I also do well with a 5-inch, wacky rigged Senko in green pumpkin. And, I’ll rig the same bait on a shaky head and drag it though the beds. Sometimes I’ll dip the tail of the Senko in chartreuse dye, but that really isn’t necessary in most cases.

If the bluegill pattern is in play at Eufaula, maybe it’ll be just what I need to score my first Top 10 in an EQ tournament.