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A. Determining what seasonal pattern you will be
I want to try to break these patterns down
over the course of the next several
In the upper Midwest, on both natural lakes and
reservoirs, the largemouth bass
will begin their migration toward shallow water almost immediately
after ice out.
The purpose of this migration is twofold - feeding and eventually
you can locate the best shallow areas, you will be able to follow the
throughout the spring, and into post-spawn.
My usual research routine starts in the
off-season. I like to purchase no less
than two different brands of lake maps for each body of water on my
schedule. You will find that the detail of maps vary from manufacturer
manufacturer depending on their mapping source, but most information
information and I will take all I can get! Typically any tournament I
ice out through the end of May, I can classify as pre-spawn.
I will carefully study these maps, paying
particular attention to bays that have
shallow flats (under 8’ of water) in the northern section of the
bays with an expansive flat in the northwest portion of the lake will
my interest. These bays will see more sunlight and are at least
protected from prevailing winds. I will highlight as many of these
possible on my maps, and will check most of them when pre-fishing.
Some of the characteristics that will make a flat special, include:
Defined point/points at the mouth of the bay.
When actually on the lake, a surface temperature
gauge is a must for determining
not a particular temperature, but some of the warmest water you can
you will find the main lake more than 5 degrees colder than a bay.
When I start
checking the bays I had highlighted on the maps during pre-work, I
fishing in the warmest areas first and these will most often be dark
Nine times out of ten I will circle the flat
within the bay to see the actual
layout in comparison to the maps. Then I will zigzag through the flat
trolling motor on high and throw a swim jig or a spinner-bait. I am
things in this process - trying to get bit, and scanning the water
baitfish, pan fish and bass.
If I start getting hits or catching fish on the
flat, I will begin to refine the
pattern. Is the activity I am experiencing coming off of stumps, brush
weed growth or perhaps rocks? When I determine if there is some
specific cover or
structure on the flat that is producing fish, I slow down and work every similar
spot on the flat thoroughly.
If I cannot get the fish to bite, and the flat is
void of any visible baitfish or
game fish, I will not abandon the area. It is very possible that by
or early afternoon this flat could be loaded with fish due to warming
water throughout the day. To quantify the productivity of an area you need
deeper by working your way out of the bay, fishing the secondary
channels, inside turns, ledges and drop-offs (indicated in the map
contour lines get very close to each other or touch), and then finally
lake points at the mouth of the bay. A largemouth bass will use all of
types of structure as “stopping points” on their path to and from
Baits that work well for me for these pre-spawn
deeper presentations, are
weighted suspending jerk baits, a football jig with a twin tail grub,
Brovarney swim jigs, Carolina rigs, shakey head worms, a drop-shot
Fishing in this manner allows me to find where
the fish are in terms of their
migration to the flat. When you begin catching fish, be sure to
least mentally, the time of day, weather condition and surface
because this may be replicated in similar areas of the lake.
The important part of spring and pre-spawn
fishing is your adaptability. If you
are catching fish and they turn off, it is time to adapt to the
situation. If you
are catching fish on the flat and the bite slows, think about your
Did cloud cover take the heat of the sun out of the equation? Did the
up or shift and push cold main lake water into the flat? If that is
these fish are not necessarily negative, but may have moved closer to
water or structure that they use on their migration highways within
Conversely, if you are catching fish in the
deeper structure areas and they turn
off, it is just as likely that the flat is warming enough that it has
inviting to the whole food chain, bass included, and you need to
A lot is said about “fishing the moment”.
Never is this phrase more obvious as in
the springtime during the pre-spawn on our northern lakes. Your
on your versatility in fishing techniques and your ability to think
situations that may arise.