Prespawn is defined as the time between when a bass first leaves its wintertime home and when it actually initiates the act of spawning. This can be an absolutely electric time to fish for a couple of reasons, but it certainly doesn’t come without its challenges. Bass are looking to move shallow, and they can get ornery when spring weather gets weird, but they also follow a relatively predictable migration every year, and this includes some of the biggest fish in the lake that will at no other point during the year get that shallow. If you know where to look, and when to look there, you can find big numbers of huge fish and have the day of a lifetime.
Main Lake Points
What is it: A main lake point is simply a point that is on the main river channel instead of inside of a creek arm. Oftentimes, the best main lake points are the ones that are right at the mouth of a creek arm.
Why is it good: Main lake points are probably the most textbook place to find prespawn fish. These points are the first stopping place for many bass that have just begun their spring migration to the backs of creeks and pockets to spawn. They can often pull up onto these points in big numbers, and the earliest waves can include some gigantic fish. Look for fish here in the early prespawn before temperatures really start to warm.
One way to fish it: If the weather permits, I love to start targeting these fish with a moving bait first. How deep the water is, how clear the water is, and how the point actually lays out will determine what kind of moving bait. I usually keep a crankbait and swimbait tied on. A jerkbait can also be a great tool if you find your fish are suspending. If they won’t chase, switching to something you can drag like a shaky head or football jig can usually coax them into biting.
What is it: The difference between a secondary point and a main lake point is simply where they are located. While a main lake point sticks out into the main body of the lake, when the same structure exists inside of a creek arm, it’s a secondary point.
Why is it good: Secondary points are textbook stopping places along the spring migration routes for bass. After bass pull onto main lake points in the early spring, but before they reach the pockets and back of creeks where they will eventually spawn, secondary points are popular resting areas.
One way to fish it: There are a lot of ways to target groups of migrating bass that have stopped on a secondary point. Much like a main lake point, weather and lake conditions, as well as the layout of the actual structure, will determine your approach. Some secondary points are tiny and shallow and the entire point can be covered in a few casts with a shallow-running crankbait. Others can drop off into 50 feet of water.
What is it: Rip rap is man-made rock bank often found around bridges and in marinas
Why is it good: Rip rap basically always has some fish around it, but the prespawn time can turn it into a magnet for bass. The clean chunk rock provided by the man-made structure is a haven for crawfish, which prefer the cleanest substrate they can find. Since crawfish activity ramps up when the water starts to warm in the spring, these places can turn into just absolute buffets for bass. Rip rap can also provide heat on sunny days. When bass are trying to push shallow in the spring, and the water temperature isn’t cooperating, small differences in temperature can make huge differences in the quality of a spot.
One way to fish it: Start with a tight-wobbling crawfish crankbait and deflect it off of the rocks. If the fish aren’t in a chasing mood, crawling a jig over the rocks can help trigger more weary bass, but keep your line tight or you’ll be breaking off a lot of jigs.
Steep Rock Banks
What is it: These, as the name suggests, are banks with a steep slope to them and hard rock on the bottom. Many times, steep banks are formed by the river channel running up against the bank.
Why is it good: Similar to rip rap, steep rocky banks can also provide solid crawfish habitat that attracts bass. These banks can provide stopping points for migrating bass at any part of their migration depending on how far back into a creek you find such a spot. As mentioned, many steep banks in creeks are formed by the river channel swinging up against the bank. This is the same river channel migrating fish will follow, making these banks a natural stopping point. The steepness also allows fish to easily fall back into deep water should a cold front come through and plummet the water temperature.
One way to fish it: Much like rip rap, these are great places to capitalize on the early spring crawfish activity with a tight-wobbling orange or red crankbait. Slow down and switch to a jig or texas-rig if the fish are not in a chasing mood.
What is it: Submerged grass growth in the spring produces grass lines that migrating bass can use as highways. Divots, points, or other irregularities along these grass lines can be stopping points for migrating fish.
Why is it good: Grass is a natural attractor for bass. It provides good cover and ambush points for feeding fish, oxygenates the water, and is typically teeming with life. In many lakes that feature large matted emergent vegetation in the summer, such as Guntersville, the grass lines that form as the vegetation starts to grow make great “highways” for bass to follow to their spawning grounds. Places with irregularities in the grass line, such as where it forms a point, makes a corner, etc. are all places where migrating fish will stop and hang out for a while.
One way to fish it: Submerged grass is a dreamland for anglers who love to throw a lipless crankbait. Ticking the top of the grass and giving the bait a nice rip whenever you feel it get stuck on a blade can trigger reaction bites from bass relating to the vegetation.