POST SPAWN TACTICS
Due to my activities on the internet, I receive quite a few e-mails requesting information and tips on certain patterns and techniques. One of the queries that comes up each and every year during the late spring is, "How do I catch fish during the post spawn.
First and foremost, there is no such thing as the "post spawn blues". Often referred to in fishing circles, this condition is more a product of an anglers inability to adapt to changing patterns than to a change in feeding patterns of the fish. There is no argument that it is easier to catch bass when they are spawning in the shallows. The methods for catching them are consistent. Any spinnerbait or plastic lizard tossed to shoreline cover is likely to get your string stretched. But as the spawn winds down, savvy anglers will make the necessary changes to stay on the fish.
The first key to catching fish is understanding where they are likely to be. Directly following the spawn, females will abandon shallow water and leave the task of guarding the fry to the smaller males. In essence, you have two options. You can target the males, or go after the larger females in deeper water.
Catching the males in the shallows is simply a matter of appealing to their aggressive nature. They are there for one reason. To ward off any intruder that might be attempting to feed on their babies. By trial and error I have found that a soft plastic jerkbait such as a Fluke or Senko can de deadly medicine on post spawn bass. These baits mimic small fish that cruise spawning areas, gobbling up fry. Another option is the new line of crankbaits offered by most manufacturers. They are designed to run less than 1 foot and work well on these protective males. Either of these baits should be worked the same, cast as close to the bank as possible and slowly work them back to the boat. Remember, they are not biting out of hunger, but rather out of an instinctive need to protect their offspring. Pause often and watch for line movement, as they will sometimes spit the bait out quickly.
The larger females can be a little more difficult to catch. They are fatigued from the spawning ritual and will seek out the nearest deep water structure to rest and recuperate. While they will not aggressively chase down a fast moving bait, they will take advantage of an easy meal if it is offered to them. As these fish will often suspend on cover, it is imperative that you use a lure that will stay in strike zone.
Your first choice should be the Carolina-rig. A plastic lizard are worm dragged slowly around drop-offs and ledges is an easy target for these lethargic females. Another alternative is a suspending crankbait. These baits are designed to be reeled down to a certain depth and suspend. By using your electronics, determine the depth that the fish are holding and target them with the appropriate lure. Experiment with different retrieves to ascertain how the bass want the bait, and fish it accordingly.
Above all else, remember that this is a transition period. It won't last long, and soon the bass will settle into a more stable summer pattern. Be patient, fish slow, and don't get frustrated. Some of my best fishing days have come during this period. The post spawn blues are all in your mind, so don't let them get you down.