The spawn is a period where we see a significant behavioral change in bass. They have used the pre-spawn to bulk up and prepare for the spawn and now they become more defensive in and around their spawning grounds. Spring can be a tough time to catch bass, but it can also be a satisfying challenge to get these fish off their beds and onto your bait. Let’s dive into some of the best baits for spawning bass.
During the spawn, bass will tend to hold shallower water as this is generally where they prefer to lay their eggs. Understanding spring bass and knowing where they tend to spawn will go a long way in finding them during this unique season. Here are some key patterns to take in:
Bass will move into shallower zones: Bass will move into these areas in the pre-spawn, away from main lake/river areas. They do this so that they can get greater access to sunlight, which is key to the incubation process
Bass prefer harder surfaces for their eggs: Soft silt and other less solid surfaces will provide a poor platform for a bass’s eggs to hang onto. Look for harder bottoms in shallower zones
Vegetation is key: Bass will generally always spawn nearby cover or vegetation. As we know, bass love hugging cover and this is especially evident during the spawn
Look for circular beds on the bottom: If water clarity allows, this is a dead giveaway for a spawning bed. Bass will get rid of any silt in an area in order to create a better platform for their eggs
Take note of water clarity: If you’re fishing a system with more stained water, the chances are bass will have spawned in shallower water to get more sunlight. If your system is clear, look to deeper areas for spawning beds
These are just a few of the key patterns to consider when targeting bass during the spawn. Understanding these will make sure you’re covering the right water when fishing during spring.
The 5 Best Baits for Spawning Bass
Bait selection is critical during the spawn. As we know, bass may be less willing to feed during this period. They go more into defensive mode rather than the aggressive feeding mode they were in leading up to the spawn. However, in saying that, there are still several ways to get bass to eat in and around their beds.
Some of the best baits for spring bass are spinnerbaits, jigs, hollow frogs, Texas-rigged creatures baits, and drop shot rigs.
Let’s be honest, throwing a spinnerbait in any season is never a bad idea. It’s a bait that is fun to fish and it’s incredibly efficient when it comes to covering water. The spinnerbait works incredibly well in the spawn as it can be considered as an invader.
Spawning beds are heavily protected during the spawn. Males are doing the heavy work, while a female will always be nearby. The fact is, bass have many enemies in any system as eggs are a world-class meal for any other predator in the system.
Bluegill, Crappie, and several other baitfish will take their chances for a bass’s eggs and the male does their best to protect the eggs. A spinnerbait can imitate one of these invaders and a bass may eat it not because of the food, but rather to defend their bed.
It’s absolutely critical to find areas where bass may be spawning. Look to shallower pockets with plenty of nearby vegetation and look to cover these areas heavily. Make plenty of casts and a slow retrieve is what I find works best. Also - always consider color selection.
Once you’ve found zones that are potentially spawning beds, flipping a jig in around these areas is always a lot of fun and you’re really able to cover each spot properly.
Jigs may also be considered as invaders and bass may have a nasty (but nice) reaction to them. The jig is designed to deal with the heaviest of vegetation, so don’t be shy to throw it right into the heart of some shore-based cover.
Often bass will hug cover nearby to a spawning bed and the jig may be the best option to find the strike zone of a resting female in the thicket.
Using a trailer on the jig is also a good option. I tend to use a soft plastic that has a few flailing limbs to give the presentation more movement and a more intimidating profile. It also may increase the chances of a devastating reaction bite.
Topwater frog fishing is one of the most exciting techniques in bass fishing when conditions allow. This technique requires warmer water and luckily, the spawn has close to perfect water temperatures for getting that topwater bite.
As mentioned, bass will spawn in and around vegetation. Bass will hug cover while protecting beds and the hollow-body frog is designed to eliminate any fear of getting snagged. This means you can throw your frog right into the heart of any kind of aquatic vegetation.
Once again, it’s key to find where bass are spawning for this technique. Once you’ve found potential beds, throw your frog deep into the cover and give a slightly slower retrieve. One can even look to twitch the frog with breaks in between.
A lurking female hanging around beds may struggle to resist a frog that is cruising over and you'll see some of the best in the game throwing topwaters during the spawn - even in highly competitive events. This is a known method for getting females off their beds.
Texas-rigged Creature Baits
Pitching in and around spawning beds with creature baits is another approach that can get a defensive reaction from a bass. These creature baits can be seen as invaders and potential threats to a bass’s eggs.
It’s absolutely vital to find spawning beds when looking to this technique - one may need clearer water to make sure they’re casting onto the beds themselves. Remember - the chances are there won’t be many bass away from beds during the spawn, so you’ll want to be fishing the high percentage areas.
Personally, I enjoy throwing soft plastics that have a few flailing limbs. I love Brush Hogs, Cowboys, Pit Bosses, and even lizard-type baits. Bass will either regard these baits as threats or as a potential meal.
Pitching soft plastics on a Texas rig is an effective way to get males off the beds. Often when fishing a spawning bed, males will be the first to bite. After getting the male to eat, there’s a greater chance of getting a bigger female to eat your bait - the ones we’re after.
Drop Shot Rig
Finally, the drop shot rig. This is the only finesse technique on this list but it simply cannot be left out. I am convinced that a drop shot is the best rig to throw when the bite gets really tough during the middle of the spawn. It requires patience, but man it pays off.
Twitching a drop shot around a bed will almost always result in a bite (if you’ve found an active bed). With a bass nearby, they’ll struggle to resist the epic action of a buoyant soft plastic.
The one thing to remember is that you’ll be making fewer casts with a drop shot and cover less water. If you make the right casts in and around a bed, a bass will without a doubt spot the bait, but it may time some time before coming to investigate.
The drop shot is an application I’ll turn to if nothing else is working, seeing as though it is the slowest and probably the least exciting. One thing to remember is that the bass may very well be pressured during this period - a time where the drop shot is often the only hope.
In terms of baits, you can’t go wrong with the classic Dream Shot, Half Shell, or Straight Tail Worm. These baits will work in almost any situation. I recommend rigging the baits Texas-style on an EWG or pitching hook. This will provide protection from nearby vegetation.
The drop shot rig has won more prize money than any other technique on the circuit in recent years.
It's critical to acknowledge that the spawn may not be the most fruitful period to target bass. We see a dramatic behavioral change in these fish during this season and we need to alter the way to apply our presentations.
Find bass is the absolute key to success during the spring. Once we've found them, we can look to the above lures and baits to potentially get those fish to move off their beds to attack or feed.
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