Prespawn bass have already begun pushing into dead-end canals in the Atchafalaya Spillway, and Kelly Wheat has been there waiting for them.

“It’s on big time right now. There’s a lot of fish being caught,” said Wheat, who participated in the Fishing for Tucker tournament held last weekend along with his partner, Leavitt Hamilton. “We’re averaging 20-25 fish now, with several 2- to 3-pound fish.

“It’s absolutely the late wintertime, prespawn pattern. Generally, you can find clear water, and the fish are pushed into the dead-end canals.”

Wheat said he and Hamilton did most of their damage Saturday from Old River to the Shell Oil Field cuts with a Delta lure willow leaf spinnerbait in white, chartreuse and blue.

“We’re working grass beds, trees, banks, stumps - just the various structure in the dead-end canals,” he said. “We’re talking about a foot-and-a-half to 3-feet of water for most of them.”

Additional fish were caught with a black and blue Delta vibrating jig, and by punching through grass with 1-ounce weights and D-Bomb lures.

“They are definitely heading toward the dead-ends,” Wheat said. “They’re finding that deeper, warmer water and they’re starting to move up.”

Key to success now is the low level of the Atchafalaya River, which was at 1.7 feet in Morgan City on Thursday. Wheat doesn’t expect Friday’s forecasted colder temps to diminish the bite significantly.

“These cold fronts will knock them off the banks a little bit,” he said. “But I would say for the next couple of months, it’s going to be awesome, providing there is no rise in the river.

"A rise in the river really slows that bite down in the Atchafalaya.”