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Is It Post Spawn Yet?

By Russ Bassdozer

Post-spawn means raising the kids for small buck bass who will be guarding fry on the OUTER EDGE of shoreline cover. In weed-prone lakes, the bucks usually station themselves and their fry on the outside edge of emergent reeds, phragmites, cattails or tules...or other submerged vegetation rimming the shoreline. If the original nest where the eggs were hatched is not being covered by weeds yet, buck bass will keep their fry right there, but usually, the buck and fry will move out (but not too far away) from the original nest as weed growth pushes further and further out from shore. They will be in the nearest open pocket on the OUTER EDGE of the vegetation.

To the extent the original nest was deep in woody cover, the buck will often relocate the fry to the outer edge of the woody cover. Whereas INSIDE the woody cover was originally preferred to protect the eggs and BLACK FRY when they were less mobile, now as the fry gain the parent's coloration (green or brown top, white belly), the fry mass becomes more mobile and more difficult to keep track of (aren't kids the same everywhere!). At this point, the deep cover now becomes a disadvantage to the buck's ability to protect them, and an advantage to ambushers intent on eating them. Hence, the buck will instinctively move the fry out slightly into more open water (but still on the edge of cover) where predators can be detected earlier.

To the extent that the nest was built on a very shallow flat to begin with, the buck will often relocate the fry away from the shoreline rim onto the INNER EDGE of the first weed bed offshore. It is not a far move in terms of distance, this is still usually pretty shallow...only a few feet to the bottom, plus the weed growth comes a few feet off bottom (maybe even topping out), making the effective depth that the bass and fry suspend at typically 3 feet deep or less.

But enough about the buck and fry. Leave them alone. marvel at the wonder of it all, but don't try to catch them. Why do you think the buck's guarding them anyway? Because they're doomed without him, and even under his protection, many of them will be lost anyway. Now if you catch him, take him or release him badly injured, the fry stand no chance. Even if you think you'll release him quickly and easily, it doesn't always work out that way. Besides, there are better prospects directly offshore where you can go chase the bigger ladies.

You see, most of the females do not perform any duties towards rearing the young, and they will usually stage at the first break to deeper water, often on the INSIDE EDGE of weed beds emerging on the bottom contour typically in (or sloping into) the twelve foot depths. This can be a considerable ways out from the bucks and fry, depending on the particular lake, of course! Some have the 12 foot break fairly close to shore...other lakes do not. Anyways, it is a good depth to start at (inside edge of weedbeds at 12 feet), and you can hunt further and further inshore if you do not find them there.

Click here to visit our fishing art galleryA good way to flush out where these post-spawn bass are aggregating is to use crankbaits finessed through the underwater grass beds. In general, the first few weeks following when you see the bucks and fry up close to the surface (not hovering low down on the nest) will be the right time to try the tactics mentioned below. Grass beds will be emerging from mid-lake depths and post spawn bass will be using these grass beds to stage...some say to recuperate from the spawn...and to begin to feed heavily.

Thin lines are the way to go for crankbaits in mid-lake waters. For example,12 lb. test Berkley Big Game... one of the best all-around bass fishing monofilaments in Bassdozer's opinion. The sensitivity of the light line can allow you to detect when the crankbait would start to get caught up in the weeds. When the bait starts making contact with the stalks, just slow up on the retrieve to make the crankbait slowly "wallow through" the thick spots making contact with the grass without snagging too badly. This grass can only be a few feet high...or even only a few higher than a well-manicured lawn. You'll either need to know where it is...or know how to use your electronics to "see" it. But even only at a few inches high, it should be infested with bottom life like craws and assorted small bottom fish...which is what draws in the post-spawn females.

Also a sensitive cranking rod is desirable. This will allow you to detect the feeble bites which you may often get from bass in these grass beds during the early post-spawn. At times, the bass will half-heartedly mouth the crankbait, and sometimes when this happens, you may even need to continue to retrieve for at least 5' to 6' before attempting to set the hook. Even still, if a bass misses or lets go of the crankbait, then you should put the crankbait rod right down on the deck, pick up your soft plastic rod and toss a lightly-weighted soft plastic back at the location of the bass as a "follow up" to the crankbait. The sooner you do this, the better. By the way, make sure your crankbait rod doesn't get hung up and dragged overboard as the boat continues to move...or if a bass hits it while the rod just lays there!

Having a second rod always rigged with a weighted, snagless soft plastic lure such as a worm or tubebait will also allow you to catch additional "bonus" bass out of holes in the grass you just cannot crank without only use the crankbait rod, you would have to pass by such "honey holes". Just rig something nice and weedless (like a Texas-rigged craw) and slip it through the stalks.

So, why don't you try crankin' the mid-lake grass beds directly offshore from the spawning locations on your favorite lake? For the next few weeks, you can have confidence at this time of year that spawned-out females will be moving off the shallow nesting grounds and aggregating to feed in these mid-depth locations! And click here for another article with a few more details on Finessing the Grass...with Crankbaits.

Hope this helps you land a good one! Leave those bucks alone, they're protecting the future of our great sport.

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