Winter and Early Pre-Spawn Movement.
We’re super super close but we’re not quite there yet. That’s right I know it’s hard to believe but as an example here at Lake Casitas in Ventura California we’re maybe 30 days away from seeing our first cycle of bass move into shallow water to spawn. All of us are constantly reminded each and every year when we see bass fry in the water very early in the season just how early some of the fish move into shallow water to spawn. Now let’s make it clear I’m not trying to sell the theory that there’s large volumes of fish that move into shallow water during the month of January and February. What I can tell you is that more fish and especially large fish move in early in the season to spawn than most all of us will ever be aware of. As we all anxiously await the first sign of bass moving into shallow water and start to build nests in the ultra clear waters of the western United States. This is really a super fun time for us. We have all this beautiful clearwater and have some of the most famous reservoirs in the country for spotting that bass of a lifetime. Until that first sign of bass showing up in shallow water where you can visually spot them I thought I would go over the specifics of pre-spawn fishing. I thought I would go over exactly what pre-spawn fishing is really all about. Kind of clarify for people exactly what the term pre-spawn means and share with you a couple of my best techniques for this time of year.
The actual term pre-spawn means bass that are setting up in staging area and getting ready to move into shallow water and build spawning beds in anywhere from 2 to 15 feet of water. Usually bass will pick a spot that is very close to an area that they like to spawn and kind of set up there. What I mean by this is the fish will pick a little drop off or ledge with some good deepwater access nearby where they can set up and feed on threadfin shad and crayfish and bulk up as they prepare for the long and tenuous act which we call spawning. Bass will stage in these types of areas, these ledges and drop off next to shallow spawning areas and you can generate some fantastic fishing as the fish appeared to be somewhat grouped up on these isolated places. This can be one of the best times of the year if you are fortunate enough to find one of these super cool pre-spawn areas as you can set there for a good 30 to 40 days and catch quality bass that are all set up on this one isolated spot. The trouble is finding a spot like that. But it is exciting and that’s why so many of us love pre-spawn fishing because it gives you that opportunity to look around and hopefully find one of those spots. Try to focus on areas of the lake that you believe the most bass spawn in and try to locate ledges or drop offs that are in close proximity to those areas and that’s your best chance of locating your own secret spot to catch pre-spawn bass. Boy when you find a spot like that it’s really cool. A lot of the bass are super chunky and healthy and look fantastic as they get ready for it this spring spawning season.
Now let’s get into some of the favorite pre-spawn lures and techniques that you can use. Without question one of the greatest pre-spawn weapons is a lead head jig. First of all let’s talk about your set up. Of course I recommend a baitcasting outfit for this type of fishing. A 6 1/2 to 7 foot long medium heavy action bait casting rod is best. As most of you know I’m a big Daiwa guy and I always like to use technique specific equipment for each lure than I’m fishing. I like to use it worm/jig rod manufactured by Daiwa and put that rod together with one of the brand-new Tatula casting reels. Let me tell you if you have not tried one of these new Tatula reels you absolutely need to check it out. I’ve got three or four of them now and I absolutely love them. They have a super cool low-profile and a slightly larger spool as far as width goes. I like this because I can use this new Tatula reel and do a lot more things with it. For instance it’s a fantastic reel for fishing the larger swim baits and umbrella rigs. It has just a tad more line capacity and that works well for fishing jigs also. The fact that when you press the thumb bar down and the line guide pops completely open is fantastic. What I mean by pops open is that the actual level wine pops open yet the hood of the reel and top of the reel stay completely rigid. This allows you to press the button and make some of the longest casts that you ever make in your life. The fact that that level wind completely pops open and there is so much area for your fishing line and it not be hindered by that level wine is what makes the difference in this fishing reel. It feels like every other fishing reel that you fished with. The difference in the Tatula is the fact that when you press that button the reel feels like every reel that you own except this one will cast better than anything you’ve ever used. The reel has an absolutely incredible handle on it also which I really love. It feels great in your hand and has the perfect amount of texture on it and really is built for power. Probably the most attractive thing to most people about the Tatula reel is it’s super affordable. You can purchase this reel for under $150 and have something that you will have with you for a very very long time and you’ll be able to cast a variety of baits with tremendous distance. For my jig fishing I like to take the Tatula real and match it with a technique specific Daiwa worm/jig rods and you will be set up with one of the best outfits you’ll ever use. As far as fishing the jig the most important thing is to fish the jig with confidence and stick with it. This is a quality fish bait. Sure you can catch more fish on a drop shot plastic worm or shaky head worm or any variety of worm techniques. But the Jig produces quality bass and it’s very rewarding at this time of year. What’s nice about jig fishing at this time of year is the bass are really focused on feeding on crayfish in the pre-spawn season and you’re actually choosing the bait that the bass are very very focused on. This is always a good thing and this is one of the few times that I tell anglers to try to focus on fishing jigs at this time of year. There’s a lot of times during the year were I don’t think that a jig is the best choice when it comes to bass fishing. This does not happen to be one of those times. The spring is when you want to pull your jigs out of your tacklebox and focus on it in particular during the pre-spawn season. I like to fish the jig on 10 to 12 pound florocarbon fishing line. I think it would be a good idea for some of you to look into some of the new green florocarbon fishing lines that are available. I started to experiment with that myself and I have noticed osome pretty good results. If you’re fishing a smaller lighter jig 10 pound floral carbon is a really good choice. If you’re fishing a heavier jig usually 12 pound florocarbon is your best choice. About the heaviest line that I ever fish the jig on is 15 pound florocarbon and that’s when I feel pretty confident about the spot and that the water color is a bit stained where I feel like I can get away with the 15 pound test line. I don’t know about you but I feel pretty confident when I hang a bass on 12 pound test line. It’s pretty strong stuff and you can handle most anything that you hook. Tie the jig to the florocarbon with a Palomar not. Try to focus on fishing your jig slow and keep it on the bottom. You can experiment with small movements and twitches in your rod tip as you move through the day. You sometimes can dead stick the jig as you move it along, even stop it for 20 to 30 seconds maybe even longer on certain fishing spots whatever retrieve that you come up with is fine, the biggest problem with jig fishing is most of the people end up putting it down. Be devoted to fishing with the jig and fish it hard. Give it some time and keep grinding away at it. This bait will produce quality bass and like I said this is the time of year you want to develop your confidence when it comes to jig fishing. As far as colors of jigs you can use a wide variety of colors but I recommend you start with something that you have confidence in. Some of my top color choices are obviously the old standby a brown half ounce football head jig with a purple trailer. Without question a brown football head jig with a purple trailer whether the trailer be plastic or pork has absolutely been my number one producer for me over the last 20 years. It can be like I said a pork frog chunk if you like but I really like to use a zoom chunk trailer also in a purple color. If I had to pick a second color it would definitely be watermelon with red flake. I like to use a watermelon red flake jig with a matching trailer. Then my third choice would probably be a straight black jig. What I mean by straight is a black jig with a matching black trailer. Those would be my three top color choices for fishing in the western United States. I really feel like it if you have those three basic colors you’re pretty well set. Try to focus on fishing a 3/8 ounce jig and also a half ounce jig those being your two top choices. Don’t focus too much on the color of your bait, focus more on sticking with the jig and fishing it hard and keeping it on the bottom and fishing it slow. If you’ll focus on those simple facts that will produce the best results. Good luck with your pre-spawn fishing and if any of you ever have any questions about this article or any of my other columns you’re always welcome to visit me at www.RichTauberFishing.com.