Photo: Shannon Burkley
Bass fishermen will readily tell you the pre-spawn period is when they’d most like to be on the water. It’s a period of anticipation for fish because they will soon be going through their most difficult struggle and need to get into shape to handle it.
"Anytime you get over 50-degrees in water temperature, activity and metabolism in fish starts to increase," said former DNR Biologist Kevin Yokum. "You get up to about 55-degrees you get a high activity level, particularly in bass, you see a lot more foraging activity in that time."
The bass begin a feeding frenzy that will last anywhere from a week to a month. They’re preparing for the spawn. The preparation holds true for all species of warm water fish, but it’s bass that seem to draw the most attention. Activity levels in bluegills, crappie, and catfish are on the rise as well, but few pay much attention to those when bass are abundant.
Fish will move into shallower waters, become more active feeders, and aren’t as selective about they baits they bite.
"They really have to build up their energy reserves to go through that rigorous one or two week spawn," said Yokum. "They really have to bulk up and to do that, they feed aggressively."
It’s also a time for anglers to have a shot at catching a trophy sized bass. Females are going to be in their peak condition during this time of year, full of eggs and boasting their highest weight.
"Everybody likes to catch big fish," laughed Yokum.
Because they are in such a hurry to eat as much as possible, you’re likely to see the fish biting anywhere. It’s not uncommon for them to bite on a variety of baits. Fishermen, from novice to expert all seem to excel during this period of time. The key isn’t so much knowing where to be and what to throw, it’s knowing when to be there and to throw anything.
"You’ll see them in a variety of habitats during pre-spawn," Yokum explained.” During heat of the day, they’ll move up on shallow flats where bait fish will be. They’ll also hang on secondary drop-offs."
Yokum theorizes because of the late winter-like conditions