Fishing & Boating News

Pre-Spawn Bass In February

by: Ricky Vandergriff,

(Feb. 14, 2012 - Tyler, TX)

First before I get into talking about the spawn and spawning areas let's talk a bit about water levels. At this time we have had some rain and the lakes are beginning to come back up little by little. Lake Palestine is at this time about five and half feet low and just before our last rain it was little over six feet low. If you are coming to Lake Palestine you will want to take your time on it so that you don't damage your boat. We have lots of water hazards here and even the ones that fish the lake all the time are takeing their time now.

Now let's talk about the spring pre-spawn and things you can do to catch your spawning bass.

Where do we find bass when they begin their pre-spawn and what should we look for?

This is one of the most asked questions I get each year while working shows and doing seminars? Now let's talk about that and let's see if I can explain what I think and how I go about finding bass when they begin to go into pre-spawn.

First what is pre-spawn? Pre-spawn is when the bass begin getting ready for their spawn. They will begin moving up into the shallows where they will build their nest to lay their eggs which will hatch out as small fry or baby bass.

The first thing that will get the bass to moving is when the water begins to warm up in the shallows. To get the bass really moving the surface temps should be in the upper 50's to the low 60's and when you find the mid 60's you have found an ideal spawning area where the bass are on their beds. I know you are reading this and wondering how do you go about finding warm water in February when the air temps are ranging in the 40's to the 50's most of the month. Well you have to locate the areas that get little wind and lots of sun. These areas will be found on the north east shore lines. These places can be in the north end of the lake or on the south end. Now your thinking you said the north east section thats right I did. The north east section of the body of water can be in a cove, on the river or in a creek. You will want to look at areas where you have the most sun light for the biggest part of the day and this will be where I'm speaking of.

On lake Palestine we have several good spawning grounds and here are a few. First up north we have an area called Old Folks Play Ground this is an area that is surrounded by islands and trees and is very shallow and it gets lots of sun light during the day. Here in Old Folks Play Ground the water will be sometimes 10 degrees warmer than the water on the outside of the play Ground area and this is what you want to look for. Second you can go up the river and fish the Cades Lake area, this area is also surrounded by islands and has lots of back water that gets lots of sun light during the day and this area will also get water temps that will range as much as 10 degrees warmer than say the water outside the Cades Lake area. Third you can find areas up in Flat Creek way back up in the back portion where the water shallows up. This year we have not had the rain and most of the areas I mentioned is at full pool and not in the great drout we have now. For those that want to risk damaging your boats or that have the small boats you can still locate some good water up north but even with the small rigs you will need to go slow and watch out for stumps and shallow sand bars. Down south you can get around much easier but you will still need to watch for stumps. The south end of the lake will have places that warm fast as well as the north end does. You can find the warmer water on your northeast sides of all you coves and creeks. I could go on and on about different areas of Lake Palestine where you can find warmer water but you may not be fishing on Lake Palestine you may be on Lake Fork so here are a few areas on lake Fork.

On Lake Fork you can find areas just like we have on Lake Palestine. On Lake Fork we have Glade Creek, it is a lot like fishing Lake Palestine's Old Folks Play Ground area it's flat and shallow and holds big spawning bass. Lake Fork has other areas such as Little Canney, Burch Creek, Mustang Creek and Lake Fork Creek. Lake Fork has many great fishing spots for spawning bass and like Lake Palestine I could go on and on about these spots but there is just too much to say and not enough time to tell you everything about fishing pre-spawning bass. Lake Fork like Lake Palestine is very low and very dangerous so be careful there as well. You may not be fishing on one of these lakes but you can rest assure that the lake you are fishing will have areas just like the two I have mentioned.

Once you find these areas you will want to fish slow moving lures because the bass won't move real far to take a bait but will take one when it is presented to him in a slow working motion. You can use a number of lures. If you are a top water fisherman a torpedo, jitter bug or Zara spook or even a yellow magic hugger can be very good because you can work it with several speeds and then stop it in prime areas to make it look as if it were a crippled shad or perch and then make it move slowly out of the strike zone where you think your fish maybe. Now if you have a real warm day you can throw a spinner bait such as my 430 Special. The 430 Special is a spinner bait that can be worked fast or slow and it has proven it's self for me many times over during the pre-spawn and the spawn itself.

If your not into top water fishing then you may want to try a lizard, plastic worm or maybe a jig all three will work great. My main choice of jig will be my Diamond Head Jig in a Black/Blue color rigged with a Mr.Twister BA Hawg creature bait and another great lure is the Mr. Twister Comeda worm. These are lures of my choice because I can work them at any speed and they will still be inside the strike zone. If you are fishing the southend of the lake or should I say the deeper end where you have open water you can try another method and that is working a suspending rouge or Long A rigged on a Carolina rig. Use these lures instead of using a soft plastic bait. I think you will agree they work great.

I guide on both Lake Palestine and Lake Fork and during the spring I will fish the same type water on one as I do on the other.

Lake Fork has many great spawning coves on the main lake and even more back in the main lake creeks such as Burch Creek, Glade Creek, Running Creek, Dale Creek and again like Lake Palestine I could go on and on naming out great spawning areas.

I will locate the back water areas of these creeks and this is where I will spend my time fishing for the big spawning bass.

You can use the type areas and lures I mentioned on any of your lakes you fish just locate the waters that have the most sun light and this will be where you will find your early spawning bass.

Remember that most of the bass you will catch during the spawn are our good brood fish and they need to be handled with care if you want to protect our fisheries. Release your fish back easy and don't throw them back hard this could damage the spawn of that fish and we would be the losers because most of your spawning bass will lay as many as 5000 eggs each year and out of the 5000 only about 10% will make it to adult size due to all the predators in the water and us the fisherman being the biggest predator of all.

Pre-spawning bass can be some of your tougher fish to catch due to the cold weather and all the fronts blowing in. It seems like when you finally get them figured out another front will blow in and change everything up and then you will have to start over again. The main thing is don't get discouraged and give up just keep on plugging and looking and you will figure them out and go home the winner in the end.

The pre-spawn bass can be some of your larger fish of the year due to them being at full egg roll and weighing more now than any other time of the year so do as I do if you want a wall mount or table mount of your fish. First keep a soft ruler on board and a good one would be one like your grandma used when sewing her clothes next weigh your fish and then use that soft measuring tape and measure her length and girth, take a good photo and release your great catch back into the lake very easy to not damage her and at the end of your day go by Lake Fork Taxidermy and give your measurements to them and have a replica made of your catch then there will be two winners that day, you with your new replica and the bass.

Until next month remember to keep only the fish you can use and release the rest so that our children can enjoy the great sport we call fishing.

If you have pictures of your trophy fish them send them to me and I will try to get them in our next article or if you have questions shoot me an email and I will do my best to answer any questions you may have. When you send in your pictures and questions be sure and send your name and address and if I use your question in my next article I will send you one of my great fish catching lures.

Next month I will talk more on spawning bass and site fishing.

I'll see you on the water.