Bass in the Pre-Spawn

Where to Target Bass in the Pre-Spawn | Where to Start Looking

The pre-spawn is perhaps the best and worst time of the year to go fishing. Feast or famine. A time of haves and have-nots. The fish are on the move and hard to pin down. You can fish through an area on Friday and get several bites… then come back Saturday to a ghost town as the fish have vacated to spawn nearby. 

The opposite can happen as well, but it’s harder to force yourself to double-check. Don’t be scared to return to an area with all the right ingredients, even if a recent trip there turned up blank. The two most important things during the pre-spawn are knowing where to look and looking often.

Bass in the Pre-Spawn: Where to look

So where should you look? 

The same old cliché answers that have been written about the last 50 years are 100% fact. Secondary points, the first drops outside of spawning areas, 45-degree banks feeding into pockets and creeks, etc. Those places that we all hear about and then go and try a couple and don’t find fish right away and get discouraged. 

You have to keep a couple things in mind during the pre-spawn — fish aren’t everywhere but they will typically be grouped up when you find them. Though some more isolated pieces of cover will only hold one or two big fish at times. Either way, this leads to hours of boredom interrupted by moments of sheer insanity. 

Which to me is the definition of fishing in a nutshell anyway. 

So you want to fish with a ‘keep your head down and grind’ mentality during the pre-spawn. Be vigilant and attentive. Try multiple presentations on each spot. Vary retrieves. Be thorough. But don’t sell out on one spot. No matter how good they bit there the day before or in the past. You can’t force-feed something that isn’t there. 

Bass in the Pre-Spawn(1)

Instead, roll through as many places as you can where the fish should be staging. 

Come back and check that one particular sweet spot later in the day if you feel the need. But the fish are on the move and you should be too.

Bass in the Pre-Spawn: The Difference Between a Spot and an Area

RipRap and submerged grass lines offer great transitional highways for bass looking to work their way back into spawning areas. So those are the type places that you can work back and forth for longer periods of time. Say you’re working up and down a 500 yard stretch like this. 

You’ll intersect new fish as you make repetitive passes. 

But the more isolated cover is a run a gun deal. The shallow, hard spots in a fishery with a predominantly mucky bottom. The isolated clumps of hydrilla on a flat. Laydowns along the shoreline headed into a creek or pocket. Although these pieces of cover will have new fish coming to them during the pre-spawn as well, you shouldn’t camp on them like you should on a stretch. 

Think about it like a two-way street. If you drive up and down the street, you’ll pass more cars than if you sit at a stop sign on the same street. Eventually, most of those same cars will come by you at the stop sign. But the basic principle of the game anytime you’re fishing is to maximize opportunity.

 Bass in the Pre-Spawn(2)

That’s the difference between fishing a “spot” and a “pattern”. 

But it’s easy to blur the lines between the two during the pre-spawn. One spot on a pattern may hold 25-pounds in the pre-spawn and be all I need. Or I may have to run a pattern of 10- to 15-spots two or three times in a day to be there when the fish show up. But I might also work an area for the entire day and go back and forth, picking up a key fish or two intermittently. The key is determining whether or not the fish are staging on a spot or transitioning through an area.  

Once you figure that out, you’ll know more about how much time to invest there and what kind of production to expect. Staging spots are often one to five fish kinds of deals where transitional areas are where you’ll find the bigger groups. 

Both can win tournaments in the pre-spawn, just don’t burn the clock up or get discouraged on either. 

If you make a 400-yard pass through an area and catch a few fish, it’s probably a good idea to make another pass. If you rotate through three or four baits on a spot and catch a couple fish, it’s probably a good idea to move on to the next one. That’s the basic trick during the pre-spawn. Once you know when to go and when to stay, you’ll find you run into a lot more fish.

This article was contributed by an ANGLR Expert

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Shaye Baker


Shaye Baker started fishing with his dad in Alabama as soon as they could find a life jacket small enough to fit him. Competing with his father in local tournaments, Shaye quickly found a hunger for competitive bass fishing. He furthered his fishing career at Auburn University helping to establish the Auburn University Bass Fishing Club. While at Auburn, Shaye served as the President of the club and qualified to fish on the traveling team amassing six Top 5 finishes including two 3rd place finishes in consecutive FLW College Fishing National Championships. While beginning to dabble in the world of outdoor journalism, Shaye continued to fish semi-pro events finishing in the Top 5 in the Bassmaster Opens, FLW Costa Series and BFLs. Finding himself at a crossroads, Shaye chose to put down the rod and pick up the pen and camera to focus on his career in outdoor journalism. Shaye has had work featured in Bassmaster Magazine, FLW Outdoors Magazine, B.A.S.S.Times and the Japanese bass fishing magazine Basser. Shaye has also had work featured on ESPN and, and While working with B.A.S.S., Shaye initiated and spearheaded their GoPro division which brought more video coverage to the fans than had ever been done before in competitive fishing. After his tenure with some of the best companies in the business, Shaye identified a need for competitive fishing where participation didn’t cost a fortune. By founding UPLOADED, the Online Fishing Series, Shaye established a free tournament series where anglers could film their fish catches and upload their videos to compete against other anglers for prizes.

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