Look for prespawn bass to stage anywhere there’s aquatic grass this month, then break down those areas for great fishing.
The Green Room; it’s where the stars hang out and enjoy tasty snacks before their big performance. Same deal with bass staging for the spawn; they’ll spend a lot of time packing their bellies while lounging in nature’s green room — aquatic grass.
Okay, hay grass is more of a golden brown deal, but the Green Room allusion fits, nonetheless — particularly with hydrilla, which comprises the most-common prespawn staging feature. Here, hungry bass find not only the food they need — shad, bluegill, crawfish — but also warmth in the still-chilly water and the ability to belly down and relax before the onset of what will be the most stressful period of their years.
Find the hot spots
Having moved from their winter patterns, these plump prespawners are now making their way toward the maternity ward. It might seem like a random rumble, but nature has programmed the fish to proceed with prudence; their course will follow discernible clues.
The Ditch — Creek arms and spawning pockets all have a main channel meandering into the shallows. These grass-lined travel routes guide fish along the same course year after year. Focus your efforts on these arteries, and you’ll stay on target.
The Standalones — Early grass growth often appears in clumpy form, as the vegetation gradually regenerates after winter die-off. Pay attention to your electronics and note the likely bass attractors. Mark these key spots and know that success may require multiple visits during a day. Sunlight, wind and bait movement will determine how fish set up, so if a spot looks promising, give it several opportunities to produce.
The Hay Will Play — Hay grass (aka “Johnson grass”) often grows outside the mouths of spawning area, so give this vivid, emergent grass a good look as you hunt down those prespawners. Offering strategic vertical edges, stands of hay grass often present points, cuts and contour features, much like a hard shoreline. Pay attention to these anomalies, as food-focused fish will certainly use them to their advantage.
With any of these grass scenarios, once you’ve established a productive or promising area, don’t get distracted. Sure, you may flip one up from a nearby stump, and docks are always high-percentage spots; but stay on point and you’ll fare better.
Crawfish haven’t left the menu yet, but prespawn fish are far more focused on baitfish, so rake that grass with lures designed to mimic this profile. Soft-plastic swimbaits offer a strong choice, but consider your rigging options: jigheads for lower grass and deeper water; weighted wide-gap hooks for denser vegetation and/or shallow water.
Crankbaits are also standard issue for early spring fishing, and prespawn grass can really show off their allure. Keep a lipless bait and a square-bill on stand-by and alternate between the two to snag and rip through the grass for aggression reaction bites.
Another good one: the bladed jig. Vibration, flash, lively sound — they all trigger prespawners lounging in the grass. Try different trailers — swimbaits, creature baits, stick worms — to see what profile earns those feeding responses.
The one option that few want to admit they use, but many actually do is the Alabama rig. The major bass tournament circuits ban the Alabama rig, but most regional trails allow it. For the average Joe, it’s a must-have for the prespawn season, as a cluster of baits resembles the pods of shad these big fish are seeking.
Also, an Alabama rig is as user-friendly as it gets — just cast and wind. But consider a couple of performance points. First, run slightly heavier swimbait heads on the bottom two arms to keep the rig tracking true. Also, run a larger swimbait, maybe in a different color, in the center “target” spot. This is where most fish attack, so give ‘em an enticing look.