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Wednesday, April 21, 2010


Magazine article:
"Folkestad fishes post-spawn females by finding deeper water near spawning areas. But to zero in on the proper depth, Mike focuses on what he calls light breaks"

Patterning post-spawn largemouths isn’t all too difficult. Basically, what happens during post-spawn is males stay to guard the fry, while the females move off to the closest deep water near the spawning areas. The males are pretty easy to catch because they’re aggressive in defense, but females can be kind of tough for a week or two while they recover from the stress of spawning.
One of the best baits for fishing fry-guarding males is a chugger-style topwater. I
like the Rio Rico, and I make sure that, during this time of year, all my chuggers include a feathered hook. You want to fish these baits slowly and keep them in the strike zone longer, and the feather still moves even when the bait is at rest. If bass are guarding fry, this feather seems to be key, and you will definitely get more bites with it.

Spinnerbaits and jerkbaits can be productive for males during mornings, but once the sun gets higher, these baits kind of shut down. If the wind picks up they may continue to work, but the Rico, on the other hand, seems to catch fish all day long. Also try throwing a smaller Senko.

Bigger Bites
If you don’t really care about catching numbers and want to fish for the bigger females, you can head for the closest deep water to the spawning sites and fish structure. It could be a steep break, an inside turn in the break line, a rock pile, even some wood, but it shouldn’t be far from the spawning sites.
The key here is to make sure you’re fishing the right depth. Whenever I start targeting post-spawn females, I head straight for what I call the light break. To find it, when the sun is shining on the water, look for the spot along the break line where the color changes from light to dark. The females tend to congregate right there in that zone of darker water color.

Start by fishing spider jigs, generally with 1/4- to 3/8-ounce heads, in shad and crawdad colors. A jig’n pig, I think, is a little too much and doesn’t seem to work as well for these fish. Work the spider jigs from the shallow ledges to down deep, and target structure on structure: ledges, sharper breaks, little humps—basically the first good contact areas out from the spawning sites.

You also can drop shot this light-break area, or work a Texas-rig worm. Other bait options include the Lucky Craft CV350—a crank that’s not too big and runs around 8 feet—or the lipless LV 500.

I don’t recommend trying to graph fish this time of year. Your boat won’t be much deeper than about 10 feet, so your cone will only paint a small picture of bottom. Use your graph to find structure and cover, but don’t count on it to find fish.

Another strong factor in figuring out the post-spawn pattern can be weeds. In my area—the desert lakes of Southern California—we don’t have a lot of weeds. But up north, bass will use the weed beds for spawning. They spawn in the holes, and when guarding fry, the males will generally be close to the holes. The bass will also spawn along the edge of the inside weed line—between the weeds and shore.
As the females pull off, they’ll relocate to the outside weed line, which functions just the same as a break line in desert lakes. Jigs won’t work as well here, so I usually crank or jerk the edge, making parallel casts and working different depths.

Also, don’t overlook the frog bite. Try pulling scumfrogs over those weeds for both males and females. Focus on irregularities in the weeds: holes, outside and inside turns, or changes in weed type.

Separating Yourself
A lot of people can go out and catch post-spawn fish—it’s really not that hard. The hard part is catching the bigger-than-average fish to separate yourself from the rest of the pack.

If I’m fishing a tournament, I’ll probably make sure, right off the bat, that I get together a small bag of males—could be three, four, maybe five, whatever I feel good with. If I know I can catch three good females, though, I might only catch two males first, then see how the day goes. But I won’t waste the whole day trying to upgrade males; I’ll try to cull males out with the females.

After I have that base, then I move out and start fishing outside pieces of structure like underwater points, break lines and rock piles. It has to be below the light break, as I mentioned, and I won’t get as many bites, but each bite I do get will be from a better-than average fish.

Sometimes, however, I might vary this game plan and try for a bigger bite first thing in the morning with a Rico or Spook. There may be a few females in the shallows early in the morning, and getting one quick is a great way to start.

The final signal that reveals bass are moving into their summer patterns occurs when you start seeing shad running the banks and spawning. Down south, this will probably happen by early May; in more northern areas, it might be late May or early June.

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