As the water temperature starts to rise, early prespawn largemouth bass start moving around and becoming much more active in the local staging areas of the main lake. This temperature change in the main lake and creek channels increases their interest in striking at baits as they pack on weight after the winter months.
During this time, you can generally land some big bass preparing for the spawning season in the late winter and early spring. Most fish will not be too picky in what they take, giving you a wide range of options when it comes to the rigs and bait you can use successfully in a cold water temperature.
Early Spring Pre-Spawn Bass Fishing Tips
What Month is Pre-Spawn?
Since largemouth bass cover most of North America, it can be difficult to say exactly which month their pre-spawn season starts in. This will depend on their location, as the northern bass will be entering their pre-spawn season much later than the southern bass populations.
For example, if you are fishing for prespawn bass in the south and deep south waterways, February through April will be considered the pre-spawn months. As you move further north, bass spawn months will get later into the year.
For central waterways, April and May will be your best option. As you get into the northern states where snow remains for several months, bass may not enter their pre-spawn season until May or June and may stay in the depths for much longer as well in this northern location.
Typical Pre-Spawn Water Temperatures
Since the exact months are unreliable and depend on the bass’ home locations, the shallow spring water temperature can be a better determining factor. Pre-spawn bass will start moving towards their weed flats and spawning grounds when the lake water temperatures are around 40 to 50 degrees Fahrenheit.
Where to Find Pre-Spawn Bass
Prespawn bass love staying around midwater rock piles when the weather temps are low. They will come up into more shallow water of depths around 5 feet in order to get slightly warmer water temps and more chances of finding prey.
Warmer and shallower water is also great for their spawning grounds, so pre-spawn bass will hold fast in these areas until they pair up and spawn for the year. Look for areas with thick vegetation, heavy cover, and not a lot of current. Stem beds from lily pads are also a very popular place for fish to gather.
Lowland Lakes Vs Highland Lakes
For lowland reservoirs and shallow natural lakes, fish will gather for the pre-spawn months in the smaller connecting creeks and river channels. Here, you will find fish staying near the rock formations and outcroppings of the creek arm where the water is less than 10 feet deep.
Over time, pre-spawn bass will start to move towards deeper ledges and try to find better cover and shelter. You can still find them around the 8 feet deep mark, but 12 to 15 feet is possible as well. Bass will start looking for sand and gravel combinations to make their spawning nests.
Highland lakes can be considerably deeper and have a much higher concentration of sunken vegetation, tim`ber, and weeds. Large boulders and sunken trees are a great place for prespawn bass to hide in as they prepare for spawning.
Bass in these highland lakes will stay suspended over extremely deep drop-offs, sometimes reaching 25 feet or more. You can either try tossing in a suspending rig or go for bottom-feeding bass instead.
Choosing the Best Pre-Spawn Bass Baits
Swim jigs are a great way to entice prespawn bass into biting. These lures are extremely versatile for use with aggressive fish, and can help you land your largest fish of the year. When you want to get consistent results from your jig, consider using skirted jigs and active moving pre-spawn baits.
When fishing for prespawn bass, you can’t go wrong with a crankbait. Since monster bass are actively searching for prey during this time, any bait that mimics crawfish or small baitfish will be taken with speed and aggression.
Lipless crankbaits are great when you need to suspend your baits above the thick weed beds and rock clusters in the winter or spring. Additionally, a good crankbait can vibrate in the water getting bass to take notice even when the water is still cold from winter.
If giant bass are still sluggish and not reacting as aggressively to bait of any kind, try using your crankbaits to get a slower vibration in the water. This can not only make fish take notice, but they will be more willing and able to strike a slower moving bait.
Whether you are a beginner or highly experienced, some kind of jerkbait should be in your tackle box for deep water spring fishing. They can excel in open water prespawn bass fishing, as well as in light cover areas and will almost always elicit a strike from timid bass.
As bass move into more shallow water to feed, using a reactionary bait is one of your best options for successful prespawn bass fishing. The movement from most jerkbaits is a great way to get fish moving in on your bait and striking without much hesitation.
While it’s much better for lower water column fishing in deep water, you can also use it for early-season suspended fish in the shallows. Jerkbaits are active enough to get even cold fish moving in deeper areas and chasing your presentation if it looks like an easy meal.
Popular in bass fishing circles around 2015, umbrella rigs can catch a little bit of everything from bass and trout to pike and crappie. It’s one of the best rigs for impatient anglers to use because it will get some action almost as soon as you toss it in the water.
Umbrella Rigs (try this one) work amazingly well when paired up with smaller swimbaits, but can also get large amounts of bass action when using jerk baits and jigs.
How to Catch Pre-Spawn Bass
Once you have your baits and lures lined up with your chosen rig, it’s time to find your favorite fishing spot that holds the warmest water. During the pre-spawn months, look for large bass swimming in and out of coves and creek heads. You’ll find them in warmer creeks with a northwest direction that is a degree or two warmer than other bodies of water.
Final Thoughts on Pre-Spawn Bass Fishing
Whether you are trying to catch fish in the south, central US, or the far north, early prespawn bass fishing can be very successful for anglers willing to adjust their fishing techniques a bit and take the time to find their wintering areas.
Bass warming up in the shallow spawning areas and cold temperatures of the early spring shallow water are actively looking for food, but many fish tend to still be sluggish and slow depending on the water temperatures.
Fishermen trying to catch fish in shallow areas can get a wide range of bites from hungry and aggressive bass outside the spawning areas and migration routes using a wide range of rigs and fishing baits or lures. Don’t be afraid to try out new rigging and fishing techniques until you find one that works in your local area and at different depths.