Bring on the Pre-Spawn!

News & Tips: Bring on the Pre-Spawn!

PreSpawn & SmileyWell, it’s March, and the lakes around you should be warming up, unless you are in the far North (you guys keep watching fishing shows for another 30-45 days … lol). Here in the South, the fishing is really picking up. Water temps are still in the high 40s in most lakes, but with warming trends, you can find warmer water into the low to mid 50s in some north-facing backwaters with dark water. They are the key areas I’m focusing on right now.

In the many Dallas or Fort Worth lakes, the bass will be moving shallow, especially from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. I’m going try to fish on sunny warmer days and target very specific types of cover. North banks are key as the low sun angle will warm those banks faster. Dirty water is key as that water will warm faster than clear water. And rocks are key as they hold heat better, and I believe crayfish and minnows get into those warm rocks and the bass follow. 

In these areas, I’ll always start with reaction baits. Most of the fish will want to react to something as they will not be “feeding” heavily yet as the water is still too cold. They key is to fish super slow with your reaction baits. The Lucky Craft 110 Flash Minnow (an old-school bait) is one of my favorites this time of year because it shimmies and sinks at rest; this action is unlike any jerkbait on the market and has been a big secret for 10-plus years for a lot of touring pros. Most jerkbaits suspend, rise, or sink … this one sinks and wiggles, which makes is easy for fish to locate it at rest in dirty water (just like a Senko). Pretty cool action, and it can trigger some big fish right now. Its wider body style is also a benefit in dirtier water.

Also make sure you keep a lipless bait tied on; I throw the Lucky Craft LV500 most of the time or the RTO 150 if I need a smaller bait. Stick to your crawdad colors this time of year, as well. If grass is present, this is my No. 1 bait of choice. If rocks are present, I’ll start with the jerkbait.

One of my favorite places to fish this time of year is in the back of our many marinas in the DFW area. Find rocks in a marina (or a boat ramp) on a north-facing bank, and you’ll cash in almost every time.

If you’re struggling to get a bite, throw a 3/8-oz. jig/pork combo or a Texas rig creature bait. Same locations, just a slower bait. And don’t write off the shakey head; any time the fishing is slow, I use the Berkley Havoc Bottom Hopper 6.25 inch on a 3/16-oz. jighead and 10- to 12-pound Trilene 100 percent Fluorocarbon.

As the sun warms the water, the fish generally feed more off the bottom, but if the water is remaining cold, the bass will often suspend as the minnows are suspending and the crayfish will be hunkered down and uncatchable for the bass.

Good luck out there, and God bless!

by James Smiley