The Struggles of Finding Post Spawn Bass
Early bass fishing can be pretty easy. They are generally shallow and easy to see. Bass are on the beds, attacking everything that moves. Pick a lure, put it near a bed, and you can catch a bass. The action is fast and it can be a lot of fun. Until it isn’t anymore.
I hear a lot of bass anglers talk about how difficult the post spawn period can be. The Senko in shallow water is no longer producing. The area that just had a ton of bass a week ago is now deserted, no large mouths in sight. Even moving around, they may find a fish or two, but a pattern cannot be found. What has happened and what do you do?
I have read a lot of articles on this problem. They talk about seeing if the bass moved to deeper water. Being out deep, maybe they will only come to the shallows in the evening to feed. Or perhaps they went to thicker cover. Some say fish the brush, some say fish the weeds, some say fish the docks. Others say fish stick piles. They talk about using lots of different lures to try to find out what the bass want. I find all of these suggestions miss the point and distract you from the reality of what the bass are doing.
Want to know what the bass are doing? They are feeding. The spawn takes a lot out of them, they expend a lot of energy. And they get beat up and need to heal. In short, they need food. So the big question is not where have the bass gone, the question is where has the food gone! This is what you need to find out.
While this knowledge can help change your approach, I am not going to say it necessarily makes it a lot easier. It will get you thinking the right way about a solution, though. I have some examples that may help, but this is for the lakes I fish and the food sources in those lakes. My favorite lake is rather small. It has a large population of lake shiners and they make up a large part of the bass’s diet. I use them to target the bass. When the wind is over 7-8 miles per hour, it blows the plankton on other food sources for the shiners. Often the water in the corners where the wind pushes those shiner food items has floating weeds and cloudier water. I can often see the shiners rippling the surface as they feed. They prefer open flats or outside weed edges. They will feed there for a large amount of time. If I set up shop to fish there, there will be bass feeding on the shiners. Sometimes you see the shiners jump out of the water as they are chased. Sometimes you will see the wake from bass or they will break the surface. If I see the bass themselves, I like a silver, gold or watermelon Senko with no weight. Other times, you see the shiners, but no bass. In those cases, I will switch to a crank bait or jig or a Texas-rigged tube. These techniques are generally very successful.
This same lake is also fed by a creek (even though much of it blows under cattail bogs). When there is no wind, this creek supplies moving water. Shiners and other small fish are attracted to this moving water in their search for food and oxygen. The bass follow. In this case, the water is quite shallow, so this area is best fished early morning or even better, late afternoon into evening. Any unweighted plastic in baitfish colors works very well. If I am fishing closer to midday, I fish the closest outside weed line with a jig or spinner bait. The key to midday fishing this spot is to fish slow.
Another thing I notice on this lake is that about the time the post spawn period starts, the green frogs and bull frogs begin to breed. They like the shallow water reedy areas. Often this leads to my favorite condition: late day or evening top water fishing with frogs. As it gets dark, I will often hear the frogs, then start to hear the bass crashing around in the reeds. It is time to get the surface lure (my favorite rubber frog) and get to work!
Finding the food sources will definitely help you land more post spawn bass. When you find that food source, a good method to exploit it is to “match the hatch”. This not only applies to lure selection, but should be applied to your scents as well. I like a garlic scent during spawn, but I do find that bass tend to prefer a bait fish scent when actively feeding on minnows. The same goes for bass feeding on crawfish, use a crawfish scent. Lucky 7 BioStrike AFS Fish Attractants come in all three varieties.
In short, to catch more post spawn bass, don’t try to think where they have gone. Instead, concentrate on finding out where their favorite food source is.