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For many anglers, spring is an ideal time to catch a new personal best largemouth bass. Many will try to beat the banks in very shallow water hoping to come across a giant. Locating spring bass, however, can be much more calculated than that. What if you could find fish from pre-spawn all the way through the spawn? That would mean you, the angler, wouldn’t have to hit paydirt for a limited couple of weeks but could enjoy a couple of months’ worth of great catches. All you would need to know is how to locate the bass during that entire stretch. Here’s how I do it.

The Important Details of Pre-Spawn and Spawn

Pre-Spawn is the time when fish are moving out of their winter staging areas and moving closer to their spawning grounds.

Spawn is the time when bass are making nests, laying and fertilizing eggs, and guarding newly hatched fry.

Water temperatures for pre-spawn typically start at 45 degrees Fahrenheit and last up until approximately 60 degrees. At that point, fish will start moving into the spawn stage and remain there for a few weeks while taking turns moving into spawning grounds.

How to Locate Fish in Pre-Spawn and Spawn

To find fish, utilizing a topographical map of a body of water is important. This will show depths, contours, flats, and creek channels. Topographical maps can be found as paper maps, electronic maps, through apps, and on some fish finder electronics.

Looking at the map we need to first locate likely spawning grounds.

Spawning grounds often are flats, close to a creek channel, that have structure or a hard bottom, and are protected from three sides from large wind and waves. Bass know that for the best rate of success, all of these factors come into play. Muddy or silty bottoms won’t have spawning bass on them because the light penetration is needed to help with egg fertilization. The act of fanning out a bed to lay eggs in would hinder the water clarity too much in a muddy area. Pea gravel is a favorite for bass.

Below is an example of an area on a topographical map that meets all those criteria.

Once we have located a likely spawning ground, we need to locate the winter spots where largemouth bass will likely be for the coldest months. Deeper water is key here. We want to identify things like the main river channel, deep creeks with points, and my personal favorite bluffs or ledges near a creek channel.

Looking at the map, all we have to do now is connect the dots from the winter spot to the spawning ground.

From the winter spot, locate a creek channel or deep-water ledges that run from the winter spot to the spawning ground. This is the Springtime Super Speedway. When water temperatures are between 45 and 65 degrees Fahrenheit, bass will be grouped up somewhere along the Speedway.

In early spring, start looking for largemouth bass at the winter spot you identified earlier. If you are not finding fish move up the Springtime Super Speedway toward the spawning grounds following the channels or ledges. While we are doing this, look for topographical features that could be good staging spots or “rest areas” before the bass move into the spawning grounds. Often the rest areas will be the last big channel swing before the spawning grounds, an area with lots of structure, and an area of water that is between the depth of the winter spot and the spawning ground. Additionally look for area that have multiple things going for it: structure, rocks, on a point, near a channel swing, before the spawning grounds on the Speedway.

Now that you have located the fish, you just have to catch them. A rhyme I use to remember presentation speed is: Pre and Post (spawn), speed is most. If on the bed, act like lead.

What this means for the angler is moving baits like jerkbaits, crankbaits, bladed jigs, and spinnerbaits can produce well before a spawn and after a spawn. During the spawn, fish slow, sluggish bait presentations like a flipping jig, slow sinking soft plastics, or creature baits. Slow hop them across the spawning area with significant pauses for best results.