Post-Spawn Bass Fishing
The last phase in the spring cycle is the post-spawn. In this cycle, the females leave the males to guard the fry. The majority of the female bass can be found in deeper water, resting from the spawning ritual. The males will stay near the nests, protecting the recently hatched fry. Bait options vary depending on whether you target male or female bass. To target male bass guarding fry along the shorelines, use top-water baits. The fry stay very shallow and near the surface, so the male bass protecting them swim just beneath and attack anything that poses a threat to the fry. Surface baits that make noise and scare the fry become an immediate enemy of the male bass.
Female bass migrate to slightly deeper water; although they are healing from the spawn, they are very hungry. Just about any bait that’s slow is a good choice. By now the water has warmed significantly and the shad in the lake will migrate to the shallows for their own spawning season. Their migration intersects with females moving toward deeper water, and the shad become a primary food source as the two fish cross paths.
After the bass spawning cycle is complete in spring, the tables turn and the bass becomes the predator again. As the water continues to warm, other species begin spawning cycles. Bass utilize these spawning species to their advantage for easy feeding opportunities.
As the water temperature gets to about 70 degrees, shad start to spawn; this typically occurs about two or three weeks after the bass spawn. When shad follow a bait to the boat, that’s a telltale sign of shad spawn. That signifies male shad looking for a female mate. At the water’s edge, you will also notice small groups of shad chasing each other around items such as rocks, dock pylons, vegetation, or any debris in the water. This is how they spawn.
I like to call the shad spawn Mother Nature’s way of fattening up the bass after they have spawned. Hungry bass gorge themselves on this abundant food source in the shallow waters. Once you notice the shad spawn, choose baits that mimic the same size, shape, and color of the shad in your local lakes. Silver or white baits with a green or blue hue are very effective.
Bream, bluegill, and other sunfish species start their spawning rituals after the shad spawn. You’ll see this by locating small, cleared-out circles cleared on the bottom of shallow pockets. A good bream/bluegill bedding ground will have 20-50 of these circles inside a 20-yard square. Large bass prowl the edges of these spawning grounds, waiting for weak or tired bream/bluegill to swim by. These species have a tremendous color variance across the country. It is important to investigate the local waters to best match the colors of the species. During this phase, bait choices should mimic the bream or small sunfish in your area.
As the season moves into mid-summer, forage opportunities for bass open up, consisting of everything from shad that have migrated back to deeper waters to bream/bluegill that live in shallow water most of the year and crawfish that are plentiful in all lake depths. As summer progresses, shallow waters become extremely warm and bass seek deeper water for cooler temperatures. Bass use creek channels, ledges, deep grass lines, or points to migrate in search of shad. Finding one of these structures and presenting baits that mimic shad will increase your chances of landing bass.