With an unusually cold and rainy spring this year, the seasonal patterns of Bass movement are a couple weeks behind schedule in most waters in Western Pennsylvania. Although the weather is warm with temperatures in the mid 80′s and above, there are still Bass spawning in the shallows on the forth of July. With the weather confusion a interesting situation presents itself to the avid angler in search of a big ole Bass. Over the past few weeks I have had great days with a number of trophy Largemouth caught from several different seasonal areas and all in different stages of spawn and post spawn and all in one day! Recent trips to productive PA waters have yielded great buzzbait and swim jig bites early on the edges of weed flats on spawning areas while a shift later in the day turns on a great weed edge / rock and stump ledge post action. When running into days like this it’s a given that your going to catch nice fish… the problem is carrying all the tackle for each situation! Once the Largemouth are done spawning, they transition to a few types of post spawn staging areas.
One of the productive areas to target would be weed edges close to spawning flats. Spawning flats contain semi-hard bottom material suited for making beds. A nice weed edge close to the first drop in depth is a perfect area for a post spawn female to hang out to heal after the rigors of spawn. This area of transition does not have to be very far at all from the spawning bed and can sometimes only be a few feet away from the bed. The importance of this area is to find the best weeds with the most defined edge. The greener the vegetation, the more likely big post spawn bass will be hanging out. The post spawn transition does not have to be very deep. Post spawn transitions on weedlines can be in 4 ft of water or less depending on the lake clarity. I recommend targeting these areas with plastics, swim jigs, chatterbaits, and lipless cranks. Try the reaction style baits in lower light conditions and remember the slow presentations for high sun/no wind conditions. All-Terrain Tackle makes a “Swim Jig” that suits this presentation well. Remember to match your bait to the forage and experiment with your presentation.
Another post spawn transition pattern, which is probably my favorite, would be an off-shore ledge and point area that is adjacent to deeper water (creek channels, etc.). Again these area are fairly close to the spawning flats but consist of stumps, brush, sparse weeds, rock, etc. The depth of this area depends on several factors including water temp, and clarity, but from my findings are usually in 8 to 12 feet of water. These area can be fished with crankbaits, jigs, Carolina rigs, shakey heads, or other weapons used to probe the drop offs.
Regardless of the type of post spawn area you decide to fish, I would recommend finding the point on the type of structure. Weed flat submerged points and off-shore submerged point will hold the greatest concentration of fish. Some Bass will hang around the transition areas the rest of the year and some will disperse to their summer grounds, but the post spawn bite can be a very productive time that can yield numbers of big Bass.
In two recent trips I’ve landed several Largemouth over 5 lbs and a number in the 3 to 4 class using these areas. With the end of the spawn going on, I’ve focused on the spawning flats early then back off deeper as the day progresses. Keep in mind that although you may be fishing a weed edge you may actually be catching spawners. It’s very important to immediately release the female back on to the bed once a spawn catch is made. Good rule of thumb is to always look at the tail. If the tail is still bloody, then that fish is most likely right on a bed. If the tail is scabbed or healing over with a thinner belly, then you have a post spawner….. Skinard