Angler Education

Beating the Postspawn Blahs

Most anglers have a love/hate thing going on with trying to catch bass during the postspawn.I love it.This may be the best time of year to catch bass. It's easy.

Here's what's happening with the fish. The spawn was generally tough on them. They've lost weight, they're beat up and mostly just out of it. For three or four days they will drop out to deeper water and suspend trying to regroup after the rigors of reproducing.It's not that they won't eat, it's just not top of mind. It's like a friend of mine who loves peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.You put one of these under his nose and he's going to eat it no matter what.

These lethargic bass can be tough to catch.You just need to find them then put something tasty in front of them. In years past, these fish were harder for me to catch, but lately I've been catching them. I've learned more about how to fish for these fish and I've found baits that work well. It's back to my friend's peanut butter and jelly sandwich: put something tasty in front of them and they'll eat it.

We know that these bass will be most likely suspended over some deeper water. Secondary points near spawning areas are good places to start.I use a Berkley ® Hollow Belly in any shad color for
bait.How you present it is the key.

You need a good baitcast reel like an Abu Garcia ® Revo. The Revo reel is so critical to this because of the long casts that are often necessary. A stout, sensitive rod like the Fenwick ® Elite Tech Frog Rod is perfect. A normal swimbait rod is a little too heavy for this small swimbait. I use 20-pound test Berkley Trilene ® 100% Fluorocarbon line. Rig the Hollow Belly on a weighted, wide gap 4/0 hook. The ones that come with the bait are perfect. Now, cast the bait and reel it in so that you can see it; vary the speed until it looks right to you. It should have plenty of vibration and wobble. The more you let it sink, the deeper it will run. Then reel at the speed you've selected. Bites can be brutal, so hold on. The Hollow Belly will catch more bass when the water temperature reaches 50 degrees and will continue to work until summertime better than any other bait out there, bar none.

When you retrieve near a piece of cover, grass, tree or whatever, pause the bait just an instant. It drives them nuts. If they are there they just can't stand it. Just thinking about this makes me want to go out and catch some more right now!

After these two- to four-day doldrums and once these fish regroup they eat really well. And they have some easy meals this time of year. As it happens the bluegills, longears, greens and other sunfish start to spawn right after the bass finish. The timing is perfect for hungry bass. It's interesting how Mother Nature works things out. Although much shallower, the sunfish generally spawn in the same general areas as the bass. Just look for teacup sized depressions in groups of, say, ten to twenty.

Bass will get around the fringes of these areas concealed in cover and wait for prey to blunder by. This makes for some of the best fishing of the year for those of us that understand what's going on. Here's how I going about catching these bass and maybe some tips to make it even better for you. Bait selection should be most on your mind.

The new Heavy Weight SinkWorms from Berkley are the very best bait for this kind of fishing. They come in two sizes, but for now use the larger in green pumpkin party color. Rig it wacky style with a 1/0 hook, a drop shot hook or an octopus-style hook will work fine. Some hooks on the market are designed for this and are weedless, so use those when you can find them.

I perfer a good spinning rod and reel. An Abu Garcia Cardinal ® 804 is the perfect size and the best spinning reel for the money that I know. A 7-foot medium action Fenwick ® Techna AV ® spinning rod is
perfect. If there is heavier cover I use 20-pound test Spiderwire ® Ultracast line and a three- or four-foot 17-pound test Trilene Fluorocarbon leader. Use a double uni-knot to join the two. Tied well it will not break. If there's no cover to speak of I will drop down to 8-pound test fluorocarbon line.

Look for edges near the bream beds. Cast at every piece of cover and when the bait hits bottom reel it in and cast again. The water should be about eight- to 10-feet deep at the most.

One trick I've learned is to take the Heavy Weight SinkWorm and work the ends of it between your finger and thumb. This will make the ends a much lighter color and mimic a sunfish lot better and you'll get a few more strikes that way.

Right after the sunfish get started spawning, the shad start up. Find them on rock piles, rip rap and other hard cover areas. They spawn shallow so you should be able to see them. Use the same tackle but use the silver white SinkWorm and cast it right to the shad. Let it sink then twitch it out a foot or two, then let it sink again.

Postspawn bass fishing may get a bad rap for some, but to me it really doesn't get any better. Hands down this is my favorite bass fishing of the year. Now you know why.