What’s the best way to catch smallmouth bass during pre-spawn?

I’d like to try fishing for Smallmouth Bass during the pre-spawn season. Can you tell me when it starts and what bait will work the best?

Smallmouth Bass are more active in colder water than Largemouth Bass so you can actually start watching for them as soon as the water temperature starts to get into the mid 40’s.  The pre-spawning period lasts until temperatures climb into the mid 50’s.  You’ll want to start out in the first deep water off the gravel or mud flat.  You may have to go down to 20 or even 30 feet.  As the temperatures warm, the biggest fish will begin to journey into the shallows to begin spawning.  Preferable flats will have a low taper and extend quite a ways into the lake and end in a deep drop-off.  You can virtually follow the fish as they move.  While cover isn’t really all that important, if it’s available, they’ll use it.  When fishing for Smallmouth Bass during the prespawn period, I’ve had the most luck using fish jigs and split-shot worms on the breaklines and points as well as crankbaits and spinnerbaits in crawdad patterns.  If you’re fishing on a river, I’d suggest a 3/8 frog hair jig.  I prefer black or brown.  Try adding a 4-inch worm as a trailer.  If it’s cloudy, you might want to try a 1/32 oz jighead and a plain hook with a small splitshot.  You can use a 3” plastic crawdad or a 4” worm to tip the jighead.  When the sun is bright, even the smallest areas of shade could be holding big Smallmouth.


Dan Eggertsen is a fellow bass fishing enthusiast to the point of obsession. :) He's been providing solid advice on bass fishing since 2004.

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