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Post Spawn Mentality With a Twist...
Posted by mmagnone, 7/15/2016 03:55:08 PM



   As the mantra goes "10% of the anglers catch 90% of the fish". As a dedicated angler, I refuse to allow seasonal patterns halt my pursuit for more and larger fish. Bass are creatures of habit so I'm going to do everything in my power to learn their habits and in turn their mistakes. While many anglers often refer to bad days from April through June as "The Post Spawn Blues", I refuse to allow the fish to beat me. I fish at 110%. To better understand the Post Spawn, anglers need to think backwards and look into the Pre Spawn. as fish begin to make their move away from their deep water winter haunts , the use of key structural features such as points, ridges, creek channels or otherwise any key structural feature leading from deeper water to shallower water become a highway for fish as they move up the bank to spawn. Knowing that the largest fish in the lake generally make their move ahead of the rest, it's wise for anglers to refer back as Bass will move away from the bank using the same stopping points along the way in the Post Spawn. Again, the bulk of the larger fish are the first to move up to spawn, so in a nutshell, they'll be the first to begin their path back out to deeper water.

    In the Post spawn, Bass will often retreat and suspend over vertical structure spots and because of this, are often missed by the angler running the bank looking for actively feeding fish. By vertical structure, I'm referring to trees, docks, dock cables and buoys. As described in previous articles, I've gone into great deal about how Bass behave in a manner that transcends back to our everyday lives. Being able to sit back and use our daily activities to understand and predict fish behavior, is the essence between sometimes following a bite or making one. Those that have jobs can attest that whether we'd like to or not, we're forced to work weeks, days or months without a day off in between. While this can be absolutely jarring to our mood, both physically and mentally, it's a necessity not a option. If you want your job, you're going to make darn well sure that you're going to show up every day for work. The same can be said about parenthood. Some of us have led a life in solitary, yet, some have sought out love and companionship. As a parent, your job is to raise your children through childhood until they're old enough to be released out into the world to pursue life. While this is a feat in itself; it’s necessity not an option.

    Once the daunting task of egg incubation is over, and eggs lead way to fry, the female bass will often abandon the area and move back out into deeper water in recovery while the male guards their fry along shallower shoreline cover. At this point, the male will do everything in his power to protect his young often being extremely territorial. After a shore while, the light switch flips and the male releases his grip on parenthood turning cannibalistic feeding on the very young he protected. This process makes it extremely easy to get caught up in chasing numbers down the bank. Through the enduring process of the Spawn, both male and female are put through the ringer mentally, physically and without a doubt emotionally. It's funny to think of Bass having feelings, but is it that far off when everything else in their cycle can be related to our own lives? Don't get me wrong, I'm not a "tree hugger" but I make it a goal to understand deeply the quarry I'm targeting even if it's getting into their head emotionally.

    By staying on top of the class of Bass and understanding the fish that you're targeting, its extremely easy to put yourself in a better position to eliminate dead water from living. Thinking like a fish allows you to hone in on the movements and actions with better clarity. Not all big fish begin their move early and move off late, however in my experience the earliest fish are generally the largest. One key ingredient I always pay attention to is my deep water access and how it relates to the area fish move to and from. As
we all know, the key requirements for Bass are Food and Security. Everything else in their cycle revolves around those two necessities. If both align with the spot within the spot, your odds stack significantly in your favor.

    To better break down each part of the water column I break things down systematically. My Top, Middle and Bottom picks for the Post Spawn are the Frog, Spinner bait and the Soft Plastic Stick Bait commonly called the "Senko.

Frog Bass

Frog


    Frogs in the Post Spawn? No way.  The frog is an excellent tool for targeting fish that have pushed off the bank and relocated on vertical structure such as trees, docks, buoys etc. As Bass retreat to open water in recuperation, many anglers power down the shoreline looking for these active feeders when some of the largest fish have been spooked before the trolling motor even approached their ambush point. If you're goal is a nice limit of 2-4 pound fish, powering down the bank throwing to fry guarders is a viable option, but what happens when you a small limit and are looking to upgrade?

    Are you going to keep catching the same size fish you already beat or are you going to start looking for larger models?

    As stated above, the daunting task of spawning has taken a lot out of these fish. Days of not eating and spending every waking moment protecting their young has turned these fish frail which in turn has the fish acting generally in a neutral to negative feeding mode. Without a doubt, the Bass will still have to eat, but, they're going to be in a much more selective state than at other times throughout the year. By staying away from your spot, knowing exactly how it sets up, allows you to use Mother Nature as a way to slide up stealthily stacking the odds into your favor. With a hollow body frog, I can not only fish it in slop, which many of you are much more familiar with, but by fishing offshore the frog isn't necessarily replicating a frog in my opinion, but yet a helpless creature, whether it be a bird, baitfish, or even a rodent in distress. Being that you're able to work the bait slow and methodical generally in one place, an angler can allow the frog to hang in the strike zone a lot longer than other "fall" baits.

    Contrary to typical frog fishing utilizing heavy rods, heavy line and high gear ratio reels, when I'm dealing with open water frogging I'm going to opt for a much lighter set up. Being that the requirement to pull fish out of heavy cover simply isn't there, I soften up on my rod and prefer a Megabass Orochi XX F5-75XX which is named the "Extreme Mission Type F". The "Extreme Mission Type F" comes in at a line rating of 10-25 and a lure rating of 3/8-1oz. By the specs it looks as if it's a power house, but in reality, this particular rod is limber at the tip but has the backbone to seriously handle big fish. This action puts the rod into a Medium Heavy category. Being that it has a softer tip, I'm able to load a cast, a lot better than with a stouter rod, enabling me to bomb casts at great distance creating a stealthier entry into my productive zones. I pair the reel up to an Abu Garcia Revo Rocket. The Revo Rocket comes in at an extremely high gear ratio at 9:1 and has a drag like no other. If I get swallowed at the end of a long cast, I have the assurance I'll be able to grind into my bite. With open water, I find I'm able to get away with a lot lighter line than if I were fishing up tight to heavy cover. I find that with 40# braid I can not only cast and manage my line with ease, but still have the power to get the fish back to the boat.

    Due to the fact I'm fishing open water suspenders; in my mind I'm creating the illusion of realism in a distressed bait fish. At the end of a long cast, as I work my frog approaching my target, I'm going to give the fish plenty of time to know it's there. I'm either going to pop it, walk the dog or even simply "V wake" into my spot. Assuming I created a soft entry both by boat and cast, the fish should feel as if nothing were to be wrong or intrusive. As stated about the soft tip on the rod, I'm able to walk the dog with the frog without pulling the bait from the strike zone. Periodically in between walking, I'll let the frog pause for several seconds. Being less intrusive, as compared to crank bait, spinner bait or any high speed baits, the subtle actions of a frog can give these wary fish a meal without having to expend more energy than needed and has produced some great quality catches for both myself and the clients I've taken out. As always focus on the forage and create the best illusion of realism that you can. If they're eating bluegill, tailor your frogs belly to hues of gray, green or brown. If they're on shad, match the belly to white, gray or clear. Match the hatch and you'll most definitely find success.

Spinnerbait Bass

Spinner bait


While the Frog can be a viable option in targeting un suspecting offshore Bass, I rely heavily on a Spinner bait to cover water. You're probably thinking to yourselves,

"You just said that Post Spawn Bass are spookier this time of year and that a spinner bait can be intrusive to the spot"

    While the Spinner bait is definitely a selective bait for me, I find that when covering water down the bank, it's my top choice as I can fish multiple parts of the water column from the surface on down to whatever depth deems necessary. It allows me to fish both on the bank, through fry guarding bass, isolated cover as well as potentially sinking the bait out to deeper water fishing the Bass that have already made their move into their Summertime patterns. With the versatility of the Spinner bait, It's no doubt this is my top choice this time of year for my Middle part of the water column.

    When targeting fish with the spinner bait, like I said before, I pay heavy attention to areas that offer deep water access. I know that larger fish rely on two key things; Food and Security. By putting myself in a position to find good cover, variables such as wind, shadow lines or cover lines along with close proximity to deeper water I stack the odds in my favor for the potential of targeting fish in the upper size. Now by me saying "Larger Bass" in this article, I'm not necessarily talking about fish in the 10 pound range. I'm talking the 4-8 pound fish that provide a good kicker to an otherwise small limit of Bass.

    When throwing the spinner bait, knowing that I'm generally in and around heavy cover, I'm going to want a rod that has the capability of pulling fish out of the brush, grass or around rock. I'm going to opt for a 7'6”,  5 power type rod which correlates to a Medium Heavy / Heavy action. What I do different though is I run a graphite/glass composite. The composite rod allows me to load a cast effortlessly, pin point accuracy in casting, in addition to adding additional "give" to my braid to leader connection. I feel that Braid offers me better cast ability and offers me high abrasion resistance as I'm  manipulating my spinner bait in and around heavy cover. I like 40# braid as it’s much more manageable on the cast as opposed to 50, 65 or even 80#. Better cast ability insures a much more enjoyable day on the water without fighting your equipments. As far as leader goes I run a 6' Spliced connection of 16# Megabass Dragon Call Fluorocarbon. Megabass Dragon Call is a tough fluorocarbon that has yet to let me down. I want my system solid and as fool proof as possible so this is my leader of choice.

    Being that I'm more than likely targeting the shallower upper half of the water column, I prefer to stay in the realm of 1/2oz as I'm able to not only burn the baits across the surface in and around balls of fry but am able to retrieve the bait back at lower depths if necessary. Two baits you wont catch me without are the Megabass V-9 and the Megabass V Flat Power Bomb spinner baits.

    The Megabass V-9 is a much more realistic "blade" in the fact that it's constructed with a hybrid blade design similar to that of an Indiana Blade but still has the characteristics of a Willow. With this hybrid blade I not only increase vibration but still have the ability to burn the bait quick through the water column. I find that the V-9 has been the best double duty blade for me in open water situations.

    The Megabass V Flat Power Bomb is a unique bait as the actual jig head, when coming into contact with cover, causes the bait to roll to either one side or the other when coming into contact with cover whether it be through trees or rolled across the bottom. The Power Bomb has the ability to create direction changes other than speeding up, slowing down or spiraling to the bottom like the majority of the baits on the market today. I find that when dealing with cover situations this is my first choice as I can roll it through cover allowing  it two take on its path. With and lure that has the ability to consistently change paths; I stack the odds in my favor much like throwing a swim bait. The power bomb also has the same blade configuration as the V-9 and like the  V-9 both come double bladed. Like anything in fishing, matching the hatch is key. I stock Baitfish, Bluegill and Baby Bass color variations and vary color depending on conditions and forage base.



Senko


    Assuming you’ve run the bank looking for active feeding fish and scrounged a few but haven't really upgraded your overall size of fish. Like I said before, larger bass stack up on vertical cover, and the most common zone untouched are spots away from everything else, off the beaten path. With Post Spawn Bass being stressed and in the recuperation stage, it's hard for them to resist a slow falling senko. Think in terms of an afternoon picnic. After pulling BBQ off the grill, and setting up the picnic table you expect to see flies buzzing around, but a few really arent’t going to ruin your day. All of the sudden one lands on the side of your plate. You shoe it off, perturbed, and go on your way to eat your hamburger. Another fly lands on the plate. Now you're getting uptight. Before you have time to wave your hand again, another fly lands on your drink cup. It’s only going to take a few times before it starts getting personal and you snap... The same can be said about the Senko and a Bass. Being that the bait falls super slow through the water column, without changing its path, I feel it's the "fly effect'. The longer the hang time, the more the fish will get aggravated.

    I'll pay attention to my shadow lines in accordance to my spot off the bank. Being that Bass have eyes on top of their heads and are always looking up, I know that Bass are going to position themselves in and around whatever shade line that may be conducive to holding them. Being that Bass are ambush predators and use the cloak of darkness to lay in ambush and feed, I'm going to use "the fly effect". I'm going to set up well ahead of my target, whether it be a buoy, floating restroom or even boat dock and attack the shady sides to every spot as quickly and methodically as possible.

    Keep in mind I may be sitting over 50' of water, but knowing that larger Bass are often open water suspenders, I think of my dock having it's own Top, Middle and Bottom part of the water column. The first 1-5' is my upper half, the 5-15' is my middle and the bottom being that 20-30'. Like I've mentioned in previous articles, Bass are going to tell you where they want to feed. By paying attention how the Bass are feeding, and at what zone they're feeding, I'm able to provide myself with a Milk Run and I'll sometimes be able to replicate this wild technique all around the lake, dock to dock or buoy to buoy. When I employ this technique I literally do nothing. I know that sounds funny, but after making my cast, I open the bail and send my bait free falling to the bottom carefully counting. When I hit my intended mark, I may shake the rod tip a couple times then wind in and repeat the process. The majority of the time, when winding up, to make another cast, you'll wind into a fish.

    Obviously I'm going to cause the least amount of disturbance as possible in approaching my spot, so I'm going to utilize a long rod with a high capacity reel. I prefer fishing spinning rods in the 7'9" category mainly the Dobyn's Extreme DX792SF. The 792 offers the length needed to cast a long distance, but where the rod really shines is in the tip section. Being that DX792SF is a 2 power,  enough whip in the tip allows me to send senko what seems like a mile. When paired with 4-6# fluorocarbon I have a rod that can put serious pressure on the fish. The limber tip allows extra cushion for the lighter line and the back bone still allows me to control larger fish if fortunate to connect to one. When paired up with a 2500 size reel of your choice, I prefer the Shimano Sustain 2500FG, you'll be unstoppable. The larger spool size of the 2500 aids in casting distance in itself. As line starts diminishing off your spool, more friction is being put on your line as it exits your reel. Having a high capacity reel for lighter lines allows me to maintain spool depth, insuring I can work with a full spool the majority of my individual casts. When it comes to picking color, I generally stay in the realm of Watermelon and Green Pumpkin. I keep things ridiculously simple. Dirty water I'll opt for A darker color and clearer water I'll opt for a lighter color. Between these two colors I'm able to cover a wide variety of situations to help me identify how, what and where the fish are feeding. After identification, I can further break down my color schemes to bait with flake. Generally I'm fishing this method wacky riged with a size #2 Decoy Shot Rig hook, but when needing extra distance I'll favore running a #1 Roboworm Rebarb Hook.

    While everything I type is purely my opinion, I highly recommend formulating your own ideas and tactics to target Bass in the Post Spawn. In any aspect of my fishing, I'm extremely technical in my manipulation on the water, yet I keep things extremely simple for myself. In trying to eliminate false patters and spots around the lake, I find it extremely easy for me to pick 3 productive baits that tailor to the Top, Middle and Bottom and run with them. Reducing the amount of gear on the deck of the boat allows you to be more efficient and fish with greater confidence. I urge all anglers to think outside the box and try not to follow other people but rather create your own bites. You never know, by thinking outside the box with a Frog, Spinnerbait or Senko, you may stumble on a bite that has no reflection on what many anglers call "The Post Spawn Blues".

Megabass Bass Fishing

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