Post-Spawn Fishing The science behind the spawn
Post spawn is one of the best times to bass fish. But it can also be a challenging time for some anglers. The Top-water bite is on, and the fish are in an aggressive feeding pattern getting ready for the dog days of summer. The question asked by most anglers is, “Where do the fish go during this time”? Anglers can encounter shallow bass, deep bass, and bass in between making it challenging to locate bass in a particular place at any given time. We have to remember that bass move in phases. Those phases are controlled primarily by the seasons, but also by weather conditions that change on a daily basis. Bass are like people and have their own individual lifestyles and personalities. This determines their location within a community of fish. To understand the post-spawn, we must first understand what has taken place before this phase of a bass’s life. These are the pre-spawn and spawning phases.
In the Pre-spawn, bass are preparing to move to shallow water to lay their eggs. The temperature is rising, the water is getting warmer, and the fish are coming out of that winter phase. The female will begin to eat and fatten up to maintain her metabolism during the spawn. Once she has moved up, she will start to make her nest and lay her eggs. The male bass will follow, and they will guard the nest and fry once hatched. We often think that the female will slowly make her way back to deeper water to eat and recuperate from the spawn, but that is not always the case. It depends on the type of lake your fishing and the type of cover and vegetation that you have in the lake. What we have to remember is a little scientific analysis of oxygen. Oxygen is what is needed for bass to stay alive, just like humans. When the air is hot, it is difficult for us to breathe, and the same thing goes for fish. When the water is warm, the oxygen can be depleted faster than when the water is cool. So you may ask yourself then why do some fish stay up shallow. The answer is in the vegetation and plant life that surrounds the lake that you are fishing. If a lake produces a lot of vegetation, the fish will hide beneath the cover to stay safe, but also remember that the vegetation and plant life produce oxygen, allowing the fish to remain within the safety of the shallows. According to some, about 50% of bass will stay shallow, and 50% will return to deep water. Looking at the science, I would dispute this percentage and say it is closer to a 20 / 80 ratio due to different behaviors of bass in general. Not all bass are created equal.
Just like in a community, bass are categorized in a manner of where they are living. We have “residential bass,” or as I call them “country bass,” which are born in the shallows and will remain in the shallows as long as they live. The “lake fish” are like city people; they stay in primarily deep water, spawn in deep water and maintain their existence in the deep waters of the lake. Then we have the nomadic dwellers that typically just run the lake and travel all the time. But even with these different lifestyles, when the spawning season is upon us, the behavior becomes very similar within the community. The bass will start to move with the changing of the season, and their eating behavior begins to change.
Let’s look at the post-spawn time-line and break it down into 5 phases;
1) The Fry
2) Shad Spawn
3) Blue Gill Spawn
5) Summer Schooling
1. The Fry: This phase is every anglers dream, the eggs have hatched and the baby bass are located just below the surface of the water. The male bass is on guard duty and aggressively protecting the family’s assets. This is a perfect time to fish a wacky rig worm and catch that male bass waiting beneath the fry ball to attack anything that threatens those fry. This is a great place to catch a limit during tournament fishing and can be the start of a great day.
2. The Shad Spawn: Shad spawn in different areas on different lakes. Most often, you find them on hard clay points, around docks, grassy areas, etc. During this time, the bass may or may not be keying up on the shad. The primary times for this are 1 to 2 hrs before sunrise and 1 to 2 hrs before sunset. These are prime feeding times for bass. Moon phases are also a factor in the feeding behaviors of bass. Pay close attention to the weather patterns when targeting bass during this time. A spinnerbait, topwater bait, swimbaits, or anything flashy is key to catching bass that are feeding on shad.
3. The Blue Gill Spawn: Bluegill will spawn in the same areas where bass spawned, making them primary targets for big bass. Bluegill beds are easily spotted by the crater-like patterns they make in the bottom of the spawning area. If you find a spawning area with bluegill on the bed, you will find bass nearby. Often there will be huge bass. To target bass during this phase, a swim jig or topwater bait fished across the tops of these areas will result in an explosive bite. You can also target the outside areas with a Senko or wackey ring.
4. The Staging Area: It’s time for a rest, the bass are moving out of the spawning area, they have been eating, and now it’s time to rest. These secondary points are areas that may have some type of cover on them where the bass can feel safe while they slow down after a hard day of feeding. These are like rest areas for truckers, bass are traveling back to deep water, and they choose to gather together to rest before making the journey back to deep water.
5. The Summer Schooler: These bass are the ones that skipped the shad and bluegill spawns and just headed back to the homestead. These are your wolf pack bass, and they are mean and aggressive. They are hungry and ready to eat. If you can locate these fish, you will be able to catch fish for quite some time as they are actively feeding on everything in sight.
With all these phases being a factor in post-spawn fishing, we have to realize that every lake is different and most likely fished differently. Bass fishing is a science and a gamble. Always remember, if you’re out on the water there’s a chance you may or may not catch fish, but you’ll never catch a fish sitting on the couch. So get out there, have fun, enjoy what God has given you, and remember that the Son is Always Shinning even in the rain.
Founder / Risen Son Adventures