Fishing with Kenny: Post Spawn Blues and How to Cure Them
article by Kenny Covington
What are you going to do with that?” The question came from a friend of my father’s, as I arranged my boat before the tournament began that morning. “Nobody fishes those spinning outfits, you must be going to try to catch some perch, while we real men chase the green fish,” he surmised with a laugh. My eighteen years on earth and living in the same house as my military/police trained father taught me to be respectful even to those I secretly wanted to choke.
What my competitor didn’t know was that I used that very same “ultra-light” spinning outfit to win that day’s club tournament. I had heard all the stories from the more experienced anglers and the magazines I read that bass that were finished spawning were almost impossible to catch. “They don’t bite and become dormant, just like in the winter.” I can still hear those words in my ears.
The problem was that those fish were catchable, and I was able to catch them. For a few years, if there was an event held on Cheniere Lake from late April thru May, I was hard to beat. I had figured out how and where to catch the fish that many believed couldn’t be caught. As I grew older, I expanded my knowledge to fit all of our local waters, and while it isn’t as set in stone as it once was, it still produces good results, when applied correctly.
The first thing to remember is that bass that are finished spawning are hungry. After the bigger females have laid their eggs, they want to feed up in order to get their metabolism back to full strength. There is no reason for them to leave the areas in which they spawn in order to look for food. The food chain will be coming to them, and they know this. After the bass spawn, shad and bream will begin their spring rituals as well. It’s like bringing the canary to the cat.
Think Slow and Small
The next thing when it comes to the bass fishing the post spawn is to slow down your presentations. Lures like spinnerbaits and crankbaits can still catch fish, but you need to be very conscious of your retrieve speeds. The reason for using a spinning rod to win tournaments on Cheniere Lake, in my earlier example, was for throwing really small topwater lures. The light line and rod were required to work the lures more effectively and slowwwwly, making the presentations more lifelike. Be very conscious of your lure presentations. Too much is overkill and can work against you.
Think Early and Late
Often times the best fishing is first thing in the morning or late in the evening. The low light conditions allow bass to have more security in their feeding habits, making them more active and at times easier to catch. The window of opportunity can be just a few hours but once you are dialed in to the correct areas, those few hours can be action packed.
Think Horizontal vs. Vertical Presentations
Regardless of the body of water you are fishing during the post spawn, there is usually a way to catch them on a horizontal type of presentation such as a topwater as well as a vertical presentation such as a Texas rigged soft plastic. Some days one is more effective than the other, but if both presentations can be identified, the bite can last all day. Some key things to look for regarding each presentation is the availability of grass, the water color and the amount of shallow water cover in the particular body of water you are fishing. Grass lakes, tend to hold a larger number of fish in shallow water, unless the water is extremely clear, such as lakes like Caney or Claiborne. Oxbow lakes, like Bruin and Lake Providence, hold shallow bass year round, because of their abundance of off colored water and shallow cypress trees. Remember, your lure selection needs to address the amount and type of cover you will be fishing.
Here is a list of five lures that will work in just about any body of water that can be fished. In no particular order they are: Pop R, Zoom Fluke, ¼ oz.Buzzbait, 1.5 Squarebilled crankbait and a Senko.
The Pop R and buzzbait are an excellent one-two punch, when searching for active early or late evening fish. The Buzzer requires continual movement, but a slow steady retrieve that keeps the lure just on the surface is usually the ticket. When fishing for post spawn fish with a Pop R, a slow methodical “Plop Plop Plop” cadence or a continuous twitching pattern to make the lure appear to be a fleeing bait fish are usually the best choices.
The squarebilled crankbait would be used to cover water from depths of two to five feet. It’s an excellent way to catch fish with a reaction strike. Anything you can run the lure into during a retrieve that can alter its course can trigger aggressive strikes from fish that really have no intentions of hitting a lure. This technique is especially effective on cypress tree dominated lakes.
The Fluke and Senko are deadly on finicky post spawn fish and require patience to work them effectively. The Fluke works best when being retrieved with a twitch of the rod in and around isolated grass patches keeping the lure a couple of feet from the lakes surface. The Senko would be a better choice when the lure needs to fall beside vertical structure such as trees or an isolated stumps.
Well, it looks like we have run out of space again! We covered a lot this month, and, hopefully, you were able to pick up some things you can use to make your next fishing trip a good one! Catch one for me; see you next month!