Serious bass anglers constantly seek the perfect pattern. But after bass leave their spawning beds, the best pattern is often none at all. “I’ve fished tournaments during this period and caught 15 bass on 15 different lures from 15 different places,” says Alabama bass pro Randy Howell. “The mood of the fish can range from savagely aggressive to totally lockjawed, which helps explain why all sorts of lures can score strikes now.”
Howell begins looking for postspawn bass by locating vacated beds. Then he uses his graph to pinpoint a migration route, usually a shallow ditch or creek channel, leading from the nesting grounds to deeper water.
“The fish hold around stumps, bushes, laydown trees, and weeds. Some will be in only a foot of water; others will be 10 feet deep. If you catch one off a log on a spinnerbait, don’t waste the day trying to duplicate the scenario.”
While Howell fishes a variety of lures during the postspawn, his No. 1 choice for big bass is a buzzbait. “I fish it around shallow cover until the sun gets above the trees,” he says. “Then I switch to a floating-diving minnow plug for a quieter presentation. I cast it tight to the cover, twitch it, let it sit, then twitch it again.
“Some bass hang around the edges of their beds after spawning. When they do, I rig a 6-inch straight-tail finesse worm on a jighead. I toss it onto the nest and squeeze the rod handle so the lure shakes and quivers.”
Nevertheless, Howell notes that you can also score well on spinnerbaits, floating worms, and many other lures during the postspawn. The key is to avoid getting hung up on one particular lure or pattern. Keep your options open and experiment, and don’t try to figure out why you caught that fish. Just enjoy it.