Find Early prespawn bass fishing gives anglers an excellent opportunity to catch monster bass. As the bass emerge from their deeper wintertime haunts in preparation for the spawn. They are notoriously indiscriminate when it comes to their feeding behavior. The result is simply giant bass and lots of them.
Although early prespawn bass can be quite predictable, it’s important to understand they’re like people in a sense each one exhibits unique behavior. Whenever you approach the beginning stages of the prespawn, I suggest going through a thorough process of elimination.
While some folks like to start deep and work their way shallow, I am actually the polar opposite. I always target the backs of creeks and short pockets before I do anything else.
More importantly, however, I believe shallow water plays host to more bass than you might think.
It doesn’t matter where you go there are always going to be bass in shallow water. Will they be the ones to win a tournament? That really depends on the fishery, but shallow areas give me a complete overview of the water temperature which is a huge deal in the early prespawn.
Find Early Prespawn Bass with these important factors.
Every bass angler is guilty of it. After months of ridiculously frigid water temperatures, we become glued to our electronics, searching for the warmest water possible. This obsessive behavior isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but make sure to keep an open mind towards other important factors as well.
In my opinion, I think 50 degrees is the magic number for early prespawn movement. At that point, they are ready to move and make something happen. But there’s something much more important than water temperature. Their clock heavily correlates with the length of days and it’s an easy thing to overlook. You can have a brutal cold front come in and they will still be steadily moving up if the days are getting longer.
Now that you have a basic understanding of the various factors that influence the behavior of early prespawn bass, you’re ready to start catching. These are my hard to beat five areas.
Main lake flats
See You On The River
This CT River Fishing Guidebook is the most comprehensive compilation of maps, Lees Lures and river Fishing Factors I have ever put together.
Strategies For Bass
Strategies For Bass paperback has the most impressive collection of up-to-date information, anglers will learn everything they need to know to catch more bass.
Lees Spring Seasonal Approach Guide is a system I’ve adapted to help find bass on unfamiliar waters. With spring arriving in most of the northern waters. The spawn completing in the south. I thought a spring time article from my book (Strategies For Bass) would be appropriate. As a retired touring pro, I fished all kinds of lakes and rivers in many regions throughout the year.
Some diehard early season fishermen know to head for the waters with current. Rivers and river system lakes will most often offer you some of the best early season bass fishing (especially smallmouths) in your area.
Obviously, I didn’t have time to become intimately familiar with each of these venues prior to tournament competition. When you only have three practice days. Unlocking the secrets of a large river system. You need some guidance. Helping you to quickly get on a viable fish catching pattern. Lees Spring Seasonal Approach provides that information, regardless of where or what part of spring I’m fishing. It helps me make educated guesses about where bass are most likely to be. You need to understand all stages of spring bass migration. It’s a system that quickly eliminates unproductive water and helps me home in on areas holding the most bass.
Lees Spring Seasonal Approach Pre-spawn: (48 to 55 degrees)
Some diehard early season fishermen know to head for the waters with current. Rivers and river system lakes will most often offer you some of the best early season bass fishing (especially smallmouths). There are things that are beginning to happen on these bodies of water in the spring that trigger the fish to begin this early season feed. The water temperature and the water level in river systems are on the rise. And we can all feel the suns rays are becoming stronger and more direct. All this is leading to an increased activity level for bait and bass.
Temperatures reaching into the mid to upper 50 degree mark will begin to trigger bass activity. Few however, acknowledge the fact that river smallmouths thrive in SPRING cold water (low 40’s) and will begin the spawn ritual before the water reaches the low 50’s. As mentioned earlier, even a slight increase in temperature is all that is needed to trigger the bites in a river system. A temperature rise from 38-43 degrees is a great temperature change for an early season river basser, especially if it happens over a period of only a few days. Bass will become extremely active during the first water temperature increase they encounter after a long cold winter.
Mid to upper 50 degree mark will begin to trigger bass activity.
Some of my best smallmouth catches on the Connecticut River happen in the early season. “One trip in particular was with a great friend of mine Don Sanzo. We were fishing an early season tournament. The river water temperature was hovering at a whopping 46 degrees. I had found these really big smallmouths holding on a shallow ledge in some of the shallowest and fastest water in the river. We ran 40 plus miles to get to those fish through rapids and some pretty nasty ledge only 18” deep to get there. When we arrived at this ledge we preceded to catch smallmouths from 3-4 pounds. As a matter of fact we hooked up on big smallmouths on the first 12 consecutive casts”. Not only did we have a great day of fishing but we won the tournament and set a standing record for the Connecticut River. A record setting 10 fish limit of smallmouth bass that weighed in at 31.14 pounds.
During this real cold water I prefer to use jigs
Some of the greatest early season smallmouth locations are shallow ledges of shale, gravel or hard packed sand adjacent to drop-offs with scattered rocks, brush and weeds that might have survived the winter. The rocky shore adds warmth to the water and awakens food (crawfish, insects and minnows). This hard bottom also has acted as a current break for these fish to stage near all winter. One thing is for certain rock ledges and shelves stay the same for the bass through-out the winter and high water periods. It is this consistency that makes ledges and rocks the best choice in the spring.
I will usually begin my fishing on these current waters with the water temperature being as low as 42 degrees. During this real cold water I prefer to use jigs, and tubes to entice these early pre-spawn smallies. Fishing however, becomes far better as the water temperatures reaches the mid 40’s, with the action reaching phenomenal proportions when the water temperature reaches the low 50’s. The smallmouths will bunch up in the above mentioned areas; these places will give you action all day. Some of the biggest smallmouths of the year are caught during the rivers early pre-spawn period.
A trophy-sized Fast Water Pre-Spawn Smallmouth is what drives us to spend so much time, energy and money on our passion.
“I find that Fast Water Pre-Spawn Smallmouth always leads me to the upper part of rivers”.
Nearly 30 years ago, I was able to first connect the dots to my favorite river system and its tributaries. Without much known data to support my own theories, I sought out to understand why my favorite areas of the river system were loaded in May and June and mostly devoid of smallmouth thereafter. I struggled to understand why my river smallmouths were in abundance for 4 weeks out of the year, and then no longer present. For me I found the high water time in may and early June led me to the upper rive in the fastest water. It dwelled on me how highly migratory river smallmouth bass can be. If free to navigate without obstructions, they’ll migrate long-distance like all other river fish species are capable of.
I find that Fast Water Pre-Spawn Smallmouth always leads me to the upper part of rivers. I mean the fastest and shallowest water with deeper pools adjacent to them. In pres-pawn they will bunch up in the 2 to 4 foot range. In rivers they are primarily feeding on crawfish. This is because the crawfish at this time are very lethargic. They are actually being sucked out of their holes in the banks. I can duplicate this fast Water Pre-Spawn Smallmouth pattern on any headwaters
Fast Water Pre-Spawn Smallmouth
Without river rat intuition and an extensive history with the river system, I could have otherwise blown through the staging pools unbeknownst and without ever testing them. It’s easy to ignore staging sites on rivers. Most anglers wouldn’t know how to identify one. Good spots like this one get revisited and used annually by the same fish.
Water temperature must be optimal as well. It’ll single-handedly influence a river migration in spring. 40 degree range, it’s too cold. At 48 to 52, we’ll finally find some smallmouth success, but only from isolated staging sites. Good luck ever locating them as 99% of the river will be vacant. Middle 50’s and slowly climbing, we’re getting hot! River’s loaded, and we’ll have a bonanza through spawn’s conclusion in early June where 50 fish a trip is to be expected.