Locating Transitional Bass in Late Winter & Into the Pre-Spawn Period

Locating and Slamming Transitional Bass in Late Winter and
Into the Pre-Spawn Period.
-Elite Series Angler Clark Reehm

From my experience guiding this
winter and into the pre-spawn period on Sam Rayburn Reservoir, in East Texas, I
was able to repeatedly observe the ways in which bass transitioned back and
forth from deep water to key, shallower holding areas in preparation for the
spawn. This information is valuable and worth storing in your memory vault
regardless of where in the country you are chasing fish. Timing may be
different, but the patterns can certainly be duplicated.

During late winter, one of the best
pieces of advice I can give is to follow the bait. This makes it relatively
easy to stay on fish. Find the bait, and generally, you can stay on a good
school of bass for some time. Use your imaging unit to locate schools of shad,
and once you do, probe around the school to get bit. In this late winter, “not-quite-pre-spawn” phase, the temperature
fluctuations that accompanied cold fronts would create 2 distinct situations as
far as where the bait was: 1- on the warmer, stable successive days, the shad
were almost always holding near bottom in 20’ – 25’, and 2- on days after a
cold front, the shad would congregate in suspending balls around the 30’ – 40’
mark. Point being, the bait went from shallower holding zones to deeper
suspending patterns with temperature changes. In these offshore scenarios, once
the bait was located, I’d drag big football head jigs near any bottom structure
close to bait, or throw an A-rig loaded with EVOLVE VibraGRUBS in 3’’ white
shadow. You can really do some damage in this scenario. I’d suggest Seaguar
Kanzen in a heavier test for tossing these big offerings.

            As winter
started to taper off, and slowly warming, longer days made finding fish on bait
a bit harder, it was time to start looking at secondary points and channel
bends near obvious potential spawning flats. These areas can be common in a
lake, so you may have to spend some time probing these locations until you
locate a wad of fish. I particularly like when I find grass in these areas. If
you can find vegetation near these sharp channel bends and running along and up
points near traditional spawning flats, it’s absolutely worth spending time
here. This time period in East Texas is where you’ll see a red/orange lipless
crank on almost every boat- and my boat is no exception. After getting on fish,
I set my lipless rod down and start slow rolling an orange/red/craw patterned
swim jig with my EVOLVE DarkStar swimmer in pumpkin oil through both deep and
shallow grass. Popping this offering through deeper grass clumps and letting it
fall down the backside just always seemed to put kicker fish in the boat. You
can get into BIG fish on this pattern, and because you are also fishing around
vegetation or grass, you need to be prepared. I am running 40LB. braid (Seaguar
Kanzen has never let me down in knot strength and power), on a Dobyns extreme744. This would allow me to rip the swimjig through grass when I needed to, and
secure a hookset on long casts down deep. Keep these patterns in mind, and get
out there and shake the winter blues!



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