Post-spawn bass fishing frequently gets a bad rap as many anglers perceive a “lull” in fishing success after bass move off the spawning beds.
In many cases, the lull is not caused by a lack of bass aggression but a change in the fish’s mindset from guarding and protecting the nest to rebuilding muscle and fat reserves expended during the spawning process. Factor in also that 90% of the bass have moved.
Depending on water temperature and quality, bass may only move a short distance from their spawning grounds in order to regroup. Once the short migration is complete, one of the following patterns is usually a good way to get back in the action.
In many lakes and impoundments across the country, the end of the bass spawn often coincides with the beginning of spawning seasons for important forage species such as herring and shad.
Herring, if your lake has them, spawn in different areas than threadfin and gizzard shad, which are the more common shad species that bass feed on.
Look for herring to spawn on clay and sandy areas closer to the main lake. Make long casts around these areas with herring imitating baits such as jerkbaits, natural colored swim baits, and shallow diving crankbaits. The goal is to cover a lot of water until you can figure out how bass are oriented to the bottom.
Shad spawn in more protected areas than herring. You will often see schools dimpling the surface in secondary pockets and around structure. Smaller shad imitating baits as well as multi-bladed spinnerbaits and Alabama rigs work well around spawning shad.
Fish Bream Beds
Bream fisherman may be familiar with losing a bream to a trophy bass while playing it to the boat over open water. Anglers can duplicate this by throwing blue, purple, or black swimbait on the outskirts of bream beds.
A stealthy approach is best while casting baits into or across bedding areas and working the baits back to deep water.
A topwater bite will exist at first and last light for most of the summer until bass vacate the shallows altogether. Topwater plugs that mimic herring, shad, or bream will capitalize on the above two scenarios as well as targeting wolf-packing bass that are roaming the shallows.
The best topwater baits are those that will allow a walking/waking action on the retrieve as lowlight conditions usually involve calm water and call bass from a distance.
Windy or overcast conditions can extend the topwater bite and allow you to fool bass longer into the day.
When bass vacate the spawning grounds, their next stop is frequently shallow water brush tops or stake beds. Shallow is relative to the type of lake you are fishing and may be 5-8 feet of water in a lowland impoundment, 10-15 feet of water in a mid-land or hill-land type impoundment and as deep as 30 feet in a mountain impoundment.
Drop-shotting or casting a shaky-head rig near structure is a great way to entice bass that may be holding tight, particularly into the middle of the day when the sun gets high.
Efforts should be made to keep the drop shot or shaky head on target and wiggle the bait in order to elicit strikes.
Bridges and Man-made Structure
In lakes that have bridges that span deep water, a great post spawn pattern is to target bass holding tight to bridge pilings or other vertical surfaces.
Not all bridges are created equal and the best structures will provide overhead cover for shade. Frequently birds and insects will nest in those overhead areas and provide the catalyst for bass to feed. Take a minute to examine overhead and underneath before committing to fishing a particular bridge.
If birds/insects are nesting, chances are good that eggs, young, larvae, etc will fall in the water and either be eaten by bass or trigger smaller fish that bass will feed on.
Cast a wacky-rigged trick worm on a spinning rod with 10 to 12-pound line and open the bail, allowing the worm to slowly descend next to the piling or vertical surface. Watch your line or forward-facing sonar for signals that a bass has engulfed the bait, then close the bail, tighten up and set the hook.