We all know that fishing the bass spawn is one of the most rewarding experiences a bass angler can have throughout the year. Fishing in or near spawning grounds leads to massive numbers of fish for many anglers, especially on the Great Lakes, but all good things must come to an end, and the bass spawn is no different. When the post spawn bass make their way back to their normal holding areas and “put on the feed bag”, anglers can capitalize on the opportunity and catch awesome numbers of trophy fish.
There are many techniques to target post-spawn bass, but I prefer to power fish (using a variety of fast-moving baits to cover a large amount of water). By power fishing the post-spawn, you give yourself excellent opportunity to catch fish that are constantly moving around to make their way back to their summer holding grounds. A variety of baits can be used to accomplish this feat, and the best bait will vary day-to-day and by regions. Listed below are my most successful baits for post spawn Great Lakes smallmouth:
Spinnerbait: Seen by some as an unconventional method for Great Lakes smallmouth fishing, spinnerbaits such as the War Eagle Double Willow and the Strike King Burner have produced fish in the double digits on many occasions. These baits excel when the water clarity is slightly stained, but the conditions allow for anglers to make long casts and cover expanses of water. Depending on water temperature, these baits can be used with a variety of retrieve rates to fit the situation. I prefer a slow retrieve in most situations, but I am always willing to switch if the fish are preferring something varied!
Jerkbait: A true workhorse and staple on the Great Lakes, a suspending jerkbait is an awesome bait when fish are feeding on baitfish schools and looking for their next meal. When fished in transition areas, usually where shallow spawning flats drop into deeper water, jerk baits can produce powerful aggressive strikes from even the weariest of fish. Finding those key depth change areas will lead to the most success in many situations. Simply make long casts parallel to the depth changes, or cast into the shallower water and bring the lure back to the deeper water using a TWITCH – TWITCH – PAUSE cadence. This cadence allows the bait to dart left and right and then stop perfectly still. The fish most always eat the bait on the pause, and you will know when they do because the strikes are aggressive and fast!
Paddletail Swimbait: The paddletail swimbait is an extremely versatile bait that can be fished in a plethora of different ways including on jig heads, weighted swimbait hooks, unweighted swimbait hooks, and even drop shotted. For post spawn smallmouth bass, I prefer the Keitech Fat Swing Impact in Smallmouth Magic, Goby, Ayu, Green Pumpkin, and Gold Flash. The lighter colors such as Ghost Rainbow Trout and French Pearl also work very well, but in stained water situations. I like to fish these baits on a weighted swimbait hook such as an Owner Weighted TwistLock 3X Hooks. These hooks allow the bait to be virtually weedless and slide through cover and vegetation with ease! You can jig these baits, twitch them, or simply retrieve them. When retrieved, they feature a pulsing action that hungry post spawn fish cannot resist!
These baits are a great start to targeting post spawn smallmouth bass in the Great Lakes and Northern US regions. The most successful tactic for targeting these fish is time. By spending hours on the water and figuring our locations and fish patterns, the bait of choice will become much easier to choose, and you will be more successful on the water!