Here’s a great tip for those of you (like me) that like to stay shallow through the postspawn. This strategy could be tricky and challenging at times, but a few principles seem to hold true. First, you’re likely going to have to cover water to run into some better fish, especially if the major waves of spawning bass have come and gone. And second, you’re inevitably going to be drawn to creep in and cast too close to the remaining skittish bass, mostly because the memories of looking at huge females spawning in the shallows is just not far enough in the past yet. With those two points in mind, a great tactic is to bust out the big Spooks, prop baits, and even hollow bodied frogs, and make some nice, long casts. But the key to making this technique work is keeping those topwaters just off the beds.
So why stay on top? Well, my experience has taught me that several postspawn variables make topwater baits a great choice, and a choice that reigns supreme if presented correctly. Let’s face the facts: the few bass that have yet to spawn are usually the most leery of making a shallow appearance for longer than they absolutely have to. And if you’ve spent a lot of time in shallow like me, you’ve witnessed the phenomenon of big females hanging out just below the surface about 10-20 feet off the bedding areas, basically next to the refuge of deep water or heavy cover. An angler’s instinctual cast to the beds themselves may catch the easy-to-spot aggressive buck bass, but the skittish female usually bails toward deep water immediately. In most instances, that cast off the bed has a better chance of hooking the big girl.
In addition to the remaining spawners, many fry guarders and randomly scattered or confused cruising bass are still on the prowl. Those cruisers may also be seeking the surface action of an early shad spawn, which also happens to take place in the shallows. Their exact location may not be as easy to target as casting just off of a bass bed, but don’t forget there are also other beds that are starting to be built into the equation at this time, by which I mean breams beds. The bream are likely to spawn on pea gravel-laden areas in protected pockets or on shallow flats. Pretty similar to the areas that the bass called spawning home a few weeks before. The same 10-20 foot casting rule goes for the big bass that are after these bream, because again it’s more likely the wiser hunting bass are seen lurking about 10-20 feet off of those beds waiting to ambush the loner bream that roamed from the school. Give it some time and you’ll see that the topwater stategy gives extended life to the “shallow or bust” late spring plan.