The challenge of finding bass that have finished spawning yet remain weeks away from taking to their deepwater summertime haunts can be tough. It calls for logic, patience and all the electronic aid science and the budget will bring. Still, the more logic one can apply, the less of the latter two will have to come along.
Although nights remain springlike and cool, waters throughout our region reached temperatures warm enough to trigger the bass spawn some weeks ago. Evidence pointing toward the spawn in progress, such as bedding behavior on the part of males and egg-carrying by females, has come and gone. While there would certainly be some outliers remaining, it’s generally safe to assume the vast majority of the bass in the lake, pond or river nearest you have completed their spawning cycle for the season. Locating them now becomes an extension of having located them during their spawn. If you did that, you’re one important step ahead. If not, your guessing game will have one more layer of mystery mixed in.
Bass typically spawn in shallow water on a hard bottom, ideally very close to some sort of cover. A laydown, which is a tree that’s recently fallen over into the water, makes for perfect spawning cover, as do manmade docks, stump beds, brush piles and other such cover, all of which helps bass hide from predators while protecting them from wind-piled waves, both constant companions, especially in the shallows.
Bass feed heavily both before and after the spawn. During the spawn itself they may not eat significantly for roughly two weeks so, once they consider their spawning days done, finding them becomes a combination of finding cover and food. In its most essential parts, this is the same pattern though which they’re found on any non-spawning day of the year. The difficulty of finding bass immediately post-spawn come from the fact their chief food source is spawning itself. Shad spawn in areas that can be much more open than those favored by bass for the same purpose. While they’ll take a sheltered cove if that’s where they happen to be, a patch of grass or hydrilla in otherwise open water can be put to use by shad just as well. Bream, which routinely gather on beds in the 14 days surrounding each full moon, reliably spawn in each of the warmer months of the year. For both shad and bream, their gatherings during the bass post-spawn are especially attractive, so working grass in middle depths and fishing the outskirts of bream beds with shad- and bream-patterned lures respectively is as likely a strategy as any to be productive.
Bass spawn in the backs of coves and around shallow structure. They spend Mississippi’s hot summers lurking around deep humps and ledges offshore. How quickly they transition from one to the other is completely up to them, but it happens reliably every year. Combined with the knowledge they’re predictably in a post-spawn feeding pattern and assembling the likely spots between spawning grounds and the deep that hold their food in some order gives us a likely list of places to start. Though bass do generally move away from the shallows after spawning, there’s no necessity they move very far until temperatures rise and water levels fall, so post-spawn investigations should definitely include the mid-spawn locations as well.
If ever there’s a time of year to throw every bait in your tackle box, albeit not all at once, it’s now. Tournament anglers taking to the waters these weekends may try double digit numbers of different baits in the course of a morning.