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Late Northern Season Spawn Techniques

While everyone in the south has migrated to fishing summer patterns, we in the "North" are still waiting for the spawn to actually happen. As a northern transplant from the south, I have figured out the same southern techniques work for the spawn, just later in the year. It is a change in mindset that allowed me to take advantage of some truly great techniques to catch spawning bass. Not just those in the active phase, but also coming to and leaving from the bank. Below are just a couple of my favorite ways to catch bass within the spawning cycle before during and after.

Pre-spawn is a matter of search and destroy! However, before you catch them, you have to locate them. There is no better way to do that then with my favorite search bait; The ChatterBait Jack Hammer. My favorite colors to fish depend on the skies and water clarity. As a rule, I try and keep it simple. Dark bait on a dark day (and stained to dirty water) and a light bait on bright days and clearer water. Two great colors are Clearwater Shad with Razor Shadz in Smoky shad color as a trailer and Bruised Green Pumpkin with a Razor Shadz in black/blue color as a trailer. You can also substitute Z-Man's Streakz and Curly Tailz as a different trailer in the appropriate matching bait colors.

I will utilize the ChatterBait Jack Hammer to search the available cover (grass, wood and bottom contours) while looking for ditches or channels leading from deeper water to the back of spawning pockets. Bass use these as highways to the spawning areas. The key to utilizing this bait is the retrieve, find what the fish want by cycling through speeds and retrieve types (yo-yo, stop and go, slow roll and stop and ripe). As the bites come, the bass will actually key you in to what they want. As for the bass location, they will be in and around the ditches and channels feeding before they actually move up to spawn. This is the time you can locate some of the biggest bass of the season.

Spawn both cruisers, locked on bass (actually on the bed itself) and fry guarders can be found in and around pockets and backs of creeks. The time you spend on the trolling motor looking can pay off with both easy to catch bass and bass that may take a little more time to put in the boat. During this time, a Z-Man Zinkerz can be your best friend. I like to fish the ZinkerZ weighted utilizing two different methods; Texas and wacky rigged.

Texas rigging a ZinkerZ with a 1/8oz weight in black/blue and green pumpkin colors are good bets (depending on water color). For the wacky rig, I prefer green pumpkin. However, it isn't as easy as just using a hook in the middle of the bait and throwing it out. Because the buoyancy of the Zinkerz, which is made with ElaZtech plastic, if you do not use a weight it will mostly float. For the wacky rig I use a Finesse ShroomZ Weedless jig head in 1/10oz, the ones normally reserved for the famous Ned Rig. However, with this application when you hook it through the middle of the Zinkerz it allows you to fish the bottom, while keeping the bait free from hanging up. You can throw it at cruisers and in the bed to solicited bites – it is as natural and finesse as you can get. On a side note, make sure you separate the weed guard, it will work better that way.

Post Spawn after the act of spawning, bass tend to go into a funk, they do not want anything to do with eating and all a bass wants to do is recover from the act of the spawn. Bass typically leave the shallows heading through the same ditches and channels to deeper water. Along the way if you utilize the same rotation of baits you can actually have success as they head to their summer water. Use both the Zinkerz and ChatterBait Jack Hammer searching shallow and deeper cover piecing together the puzzle as the bites come. While doing this keep one thing in mind, during the post spawn, it can be the toughest time of the year to put fish in the boat. Keeping an open mind and having a positive attitude are just as important as your bait selection. Lastly, try these techniques, I hope they help and remember – keep experimenting and let the bass tell you what the want! Good Fishing!

-Mike McCoy

Z-Man Ambassador

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