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"Catching Post Spawn Bass and Identifying Staging Patterns"
By: Chad Morgenthaler

Recognizing and understanding post spawn staging patters is an important element to a successful Spring/Summer fishing trip.  During post spawn anglers need to realize they are actually targeting two groups of bass that are in very different staging patterns.  Just like everything else, bass are hardwired to perform certain jobs or functions before, during, and after the spawn.  Knowing what these “jobs” are and identifying them allows anglers to predict where the bass will be during this period.

Besides the obvious, male bass play a key role during the spawning process. The male creates the spawning bed, courts the female, and will stay with the eggs until they hatch.  As the fry hatch out, and for a few weeks following, the male stays close to protect the young from predators.  Spotting the fry is fairly easy.  The fry will typically form large pods and resemble tiny tadpoles swimming in the water.  Fry also tend to stay very close to their hatching area.  As the fry continue to grow they will start migrating toward the main lake.  At this point the male bass will start to migrate toward deeper water as well and “stage-up” along the way.

Taking the above information into consideration, it’s understandable why male bass are predictably in shallow water post spawn.  They are simply protecting their young.  This is good news to the bass angler because it makes them extremely aggressive by nature and easy to catch.

On the flip side female bass are programmed differently. They lay their eggs, hang around the bed for a couple of days, and then they’ll start to migrate toward deeper water. For example, if an angler finds a spawning area in the back of a cove, and depending on how long ago the spawn took place, usually the female will stage-up in certain areas on her way out.  In this situation anglers need to target secondary points and/or docks that are positioned toward the main lake. These types of habitat serve as a place for female bass to rest-up after the spawn.  They’ll feed heavily to build energy before moving out into deeper water in search of their summer homes and patterns.

The males will eventually move into deeper water as well, just not as quickly as the females. Due to their role as protector to the newly hatched, the males are about two weeks behind the females.  Their migration pattern to the main lake is, of course, similar to the females.  Anglers need to target secondary points, lay downs, docks and other structure that the males will use as they rest-up and feed on their way out to their summer homes.

Even though it’s the same time of year, different methods are needed to catch bass in their different staging patterns.  Anglers wanting to target post spawn males in the back of coves should try using a variety of baits in colors that closely resemble a predator fish.  I’ve found using baits that resemble a bluegill work great. Bluegills are major fry predators and male bass are instinctually aggressive toward these fish. As a rule of thumb I like to use a Wave Worms Tiki-Stick or a Mr. Blitz spinnerbait in shades of green and brown.  I normally use these lures on a Kistler 7ft Heavy Helium rod with 15lb Maxima Fluorocarbon line.

Wave Worm Craw Dude 
and Tiki Stick Swirl

While targeting staging females anglers need to use baits that stay high in the water column and move fairly slowly. I suggest the same Wave Worms Tiki-Stick fished weightless, color of the bait will depend on water clarity.  I also prefer a 3/8oz green, or black and blue, Mr. Blitz Grass jig trailed with a Wave Worm Tiki-CrawDude in matching colors.   I prefer to cast the jig rather than pitch it. I use a Kistler 7ft 6in. Helium Extra Heavy rod with 15lb Maxima Ultragreen line.  Remember, target the structure because females usually hang suspend around these areas.

In early morning or late evening I’ve also had success with large top water baits such as a Spook or a Pop-R.

Understanding bass instincts and how they behave and pattern post spawn is crucial to knowing how and where to catch them.  Always remember that the males will stay in the bedding areas until the eggs hatch…and beyond.   The females will almost immediately move off the beds and stage-up on their way toward deeper water.  When the fry are big enough to survive on their own, the males will follow the same pattern and route toward the main lake as the females did a few weeks earlier.

 After a little practice anglers will be able to identify what stage the bass are in and then dial-in on where the fish are patterned and select the appropriate baits and retrieval methods.  Good luck!

A special “Thanks” to all of my sponsors: Jasper Engines and Transmissions, Yamaha Motors, Ranger Boats, Lowrance Electronics, Svanda GM Motor Group, Wave Ind., Maxima Line, Kistler Rods, Minn Kota, Plano, Mr. Blitz and Nameoki Village Marine.

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