Is it prespawn, spawn or postspawn?

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Shane Durrance

It’s time to hit the water. We all know the bass are either in their prespawn, spawn or postspawn mode. But, how do you tell the difference? 

The first thing to understand is that each mode is different. The prespawn happens when the base water temperature rises to about 58 degrees. Base temperature means the water temperature when you take your boat to the main part of the lake first thing in the morning. Once the base rises above 60, the spawn is going to happen. 

The only way to tell if the postspawn is happening is by examining the spawning areas. If you see lots of bass fry around the shallow cover, you’re probably looking at the postspawn. 

Here’s a side note you might find interesting: Garmin measures about 2 degrees below Lowrance. Humminbird measures about 1 degree below Lowrance. I’ve fished Lowrance so long that I use it as my benchmark for predicting what the female bass are — and will be — doing.

Now that we have the temperature business out of the way let’s take a closer look at each of the phases. 

Prespawn is best described as the time when bass start moving to the spawning areas and looking for a place to build a bed. They really get territorial the closer it gets to the spawn.

Vibrating baits like crankbaits, spinnerbaits and bladed jigs are great during this time because the bass are defensive, and the vibrations trigger them to bite. One bonus bait I like is a jig such as a Missile Jigs Mini Flip. It has some bulk to it and can be a great lure during the prespawn.

Rock and grass are key pieces of cover during the prespawn, but docks, wood, laydowns and anything else that’s a little different from the surrounding area can also hold bass during this time. 

The spawn changes things. The bass don't tend to chase lures, and they don’t show much interest in anything with a hard vibration. Soft plastics are usually the way to go here. They’re my choice 80% of the time.

My preference is for creature baits — small and large. I love the Missile Baits Baby D Stroyer as a search bait, but the full-size D Stroyer can really trigger bites when they are actually on the bed. Target protected pockets and isolated cover. It’s all about finding where they are spawning. 

Once the spawn is over, your tactics need to change. Finesse baits and topwater offerings are the name of the game. The exception to what I just said is during the shad spawn. Then, a spinnerbait or a swim jig rule the day. Or, you might try a topwater bait. My favorites are poppers and frogs.  

Another great postspawn presentation is a power drop-shot rig. That’s nothing more than a drop-shot rig with heavier line and a bigger worm. We make a kit especially designed for this at Missile Baits.

Don’t let early season bass fishing get the better of you. Take some time and figure out what the bass are doing. It’ll be time well spent.