BD Outdoors

TARGETING BIG PRESPAWN BASS

Each year, as the short, cold days of winter give way to the longer, warmer days of spring, the female largemouth bass start to feed more aggressively and put on body fat to insure a successful spawn. For anglers, this period is an ideal time to target a double-digit monster largemouth bass in shallower water.

During this yearly transition the fish will move up into shallower water, where they will stage themselves off of primary and secondary lake points. These staging areas are good places to concentrate your fishing efforts to catch those trophy-size largemouth bass.

The big females will move toward the main, large points that jut out toward the center of the lake. The fish will hang off of the big points, as well as the smaller, secondary points where they can find an abundance of forage. The points provide the females with a good place to hunt that is within close proximity to spawning areas. The females will continue to feed as they start staking out areas to find a suitable mate and nesting site.

During the prespawn period, large female bass will often seek out and feed on crayfish (or lake shrimp, depending on the local). Whether you call them crayfish or crawdads, these crustaceans are rich in calcium and provide an essential part of the fish's diet that helps the animal produce eggs. ile it varies greatly, a large female bass will lay approximately 10,000 eggs per pound, so a healthy 7-pound fish should produce approximately 70,000 eggs.

The big prespawn females also eat larger finfish. In Southern California, many lakes are stocked with fingerling rainbow trout -- the bass will go after the trout like they're candy. With the bass keying in on the small rainbows, this is an especially good time to fish large swimbaits and trout presentations. The double-digit largemouth bass pictured with this story hit a soft, fast-sinking, 8-inch swimbait in a rainbow trout pattern. To give your soft baits a crawdad look, add a pork trailer to the jig. When worked along the drops and deeper water at Lake Casitas, these jigs are deadly during the prespawn.

One of the most effective ways to fish a jig or sinking swimbait is to fish it uphill, referring to the direction you cast and retrieve the lure. Basically you want to cast into deep water and retrieve toward the shallower water. Putting your boat up against a steep bank, and then fan casting to deeper water is one of the most productive ways to fish this time of year. Since the bass are sticking to the bottom, fishing your lures uphill ensures the lure gets the maximum exposure and bottom contact. You might get snagged up more, but this just means that you are effectively fishing uphill and making bottom contact. Slowly retrieved swimbaits worked uphill will often pull multiple fish from one spot, as the fish are constantly moving in search of food. Fishing with 8- to 12-inch swimbaits rigged with single-hook jig heads get hung up less often than swimbaits with bottom-mounted treble hooks.

To find the best spot, keep an eye on your sounder and look for a point with both large bass and an abundance of bait (trout) on a single point or staging area. As always, it pays to work the area religiously until the switch turns on. Bass have large eyes and can see very well at night when they do much of their hunting. This coupled by an extremely well developed and sensitive lateral line makes the largemouth bass an effective night predator. Largemouth bass will move into the shallowest water at night, which makes fishing from shore with swimbaits one of the most effective ways to target bass in the prespawn season. Fishing uphill makes for good shore angling, espeially at night.

So, whether you like to fish jigs, swimbaits or other lures, spring is the perfect time of year for anglers to target trophy largemouth bass when they are most actively feeding.