& sTarT fishing!
the spawning season is coming to an end, the beds are becoming empty, its time to switch our focus as fishermen from targeting spawning fish, to post spawn fish. Typically, some of the best fishing of the year can occur when bass are in their post spawn patterns. It’s a perfect time of year to learn new techniques, or brush up on your old techniques that you haven’t used in a while. Since the fishing is usu- ally exceptional, it offers a good opportunity to catch fish on a variety of patterns or styles and gain valuable experience and knowledge. During this time period, both the males and females will be actively feeding and searching for food. The first step to being successful during the post spawn period is finding the active feeding fish. The best way to do this is to cover a lot of water, with a variety reaction baits, before slowing down and fishing an area for an extended period of time with slower pre- sentations. By fishing reaction baits you will be able to effectively cover a wide range of locations, types of cover, and depths. With warming weather, you can cover depths from top water, all the way down to the bottom, and in between. You can fish flats, points, or even target fish in thick and heavy cover. During the post spawn period, fish tend to be very active and moving around frequently, which is why it is important to cover a lot of water. Though some may be hesitant to throw top water early in the year, it never is too early to catch top water fish. Many times the top water bite will begin prior to the fish even leaving the spawning grounds, as they will often eat baits on top as a natural reaction and defense mechanism to their territory. With warming water conditions, temperatures often times only need to enter the low to mid sixty degree mark prior to bass becoming active enough to eat top water baits. When fishing open water, walking baits that you can work quickly are often best for covering water. These types of baits would include Zara Spook’s, Luckcraft Sammy’s and Gunfish, and even a subtle bait like a Balsa Pro. If fishing clearer water, a more natural type bait works best, however if fishing stained water, make sure the bait has enough color that it will stand out on the surface. When fishing walking baits I prefer to use a 12lb monofilament line that has a bit of stretch in it, combined with a rod with a soft tip, such as a Dobyns DX733C. This rod has a soft enough tip that it will allow the fish to eat the bait, but enough backbone to get a good quality hook set. The key point to remember is not to set the hook until you actually feel the fish. Often times the fish may make two or even three attempts to eat the bait before it actually gets it, so it is very impor- tant to be patient and not set the hook until you feel the fish, not see it attack the bait. Vary the presentation depending on conditions, but the key to walking baits is to make sure that they do have a walking action. When facing a situation where there is a lot of vegetation on top of the water, whether it’s tulles, grass, or lily pads, I prefer to go with a weed less type bait. The two main lures I will turn to in this type of situation are a Spro Frog, and a Strike King Rage Toad. Either one of these baits I like to throw on a braided line, such as Power Pro 65lb test. When fishing thick vegetation, it is important to use a stiff rod, such as a Dobyns 735C, that has plenty of backbone to pull big fish out of thick cover. Again, the fish are active this time of year, so its important not to fish an area too long when fishing reaction baits, and to keep trying new areas. The Spro Frog is great for fishing both open water, and thick vegetation, as it walks great, but also can be fished slow over the thick grass mats. The Rage Toad has two feet that kick as you retrieve it, and will slowly sink when you pause it. This makes it perfect for fishing over spotted grass where there are holes as you can pause it and during that slow sink, often times trigger strikes. When faced with a bright sunny day, or the water temperature isn’t quite where it should be for the bass to actively be feeding on top, there are a wide variety of other reac- tion baits we can attack the bass with prior to slowing down and fishing a concentrated area. Personally, my favorite bait to fish during post spawn is a Strike King Pure Poison. This swim’n jig can be fished anywhere from 1-10ft of water, can cover water quickly, and make its way through virtually any type of cover being very snag resistant. It is great for fishing over the top of submerged grass, through flooded timber, or even around flooded brush. Again, fishing on a 12lb monofilament line with a little bit of stretch and a rod with
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May/June 2009 »