June is a dynamic month for bass fishing in Minnesota, as the fish transition from laying eggs, to guarding fry, to moving on to their more permanent summer locations. Bass fishing commenced this Memorial Weekend and it was great to get out on the water and begin to figure out where the fish were with relation to their spawning cycle. In Central Minnesota, where I spent my extended weekend, I found the water temperature to be 59 degrees and the majority of the bass had not spawned yet. I found the bass on the edges of spawning grounds, seemingly waiting for the water to warm a few degrees. Here in the cities, I have spoken to a few people and they have found fish that have already spawned. My guess is that we will have a large spawning movement this first week of June as the air temperature is supposed to be steady and in the 80s. Below are some tips to help you catch bass during the spawn and immediately after.
*Note: There is some controversy regarding the ethics of catching bass while in the act of spawning. Typically, bass will be shallow and on their beds, thus easy to see and target. Some feel that catching bass while they are spawning hurts the survival rate of the eggs, thus resulting in a diminishing bass population. In my research, I haven’t found a study that clearly shows a negative correlation between catching spawning bass and their population. Bass populations are extremely large in lakes, and when their population decreases, it is typically a result of an invasive species, predator, or chemical (toxic) introduction. A good practice when catching a spawning fish is to immediately release the fish near where it was caught, with the hopes that it will return to the bed. Many times I have caught a spawner and she will race immediately back to the bed or nest.
1. One of my favorite lures during the spawn is a 6-8 inch soft plastic lizard rigged Texas style with a ¼ ounce tungsten bullet sinker. It is in a bass’ nature to hate lizards, so when you drag it across their bed or let it sit on or near the bed, the bass thinks a lizard is eating their eggs so they attack. My favorite color is black with red flake. I pitch these lizards using a 7’ baitcasting rod with 15 pound fluorocarbon line.
2. Another favorite lure is a straight tailed stick worm rigged with the hook placed right in the middle of the worm (wacky rigged). The slow fall of these worms entice the bass to strike. My favorite colors are pumpkinseed, green pumpkin, watermelon green with red flake, and black. I like to cast these worms with a spinning rod and reel using 6 pound fluorocarbon line.
3. Often after the eggs hatch, the females will stick around and guard the schools of fry, protecting them from other fish such as sunfish and perch. Now the bass are moving around a bit, aggressively attacking threats to their newborns. When this is the case, I like to cast spinnerbaits and swim jigs around the spawning areas. A swim jig is just like a spinnerbait but without the spinner, and I like to try both in order to determine if the bass are more likely to strike flashy baits or a more subtle one. Also during this time, I like to pitch a 3/8 ounce custom sunfish colored jig with a crawfish trailer. I can usually get a few really good reaction bites with this jig during this time period.
As the bass progress out of their spawning cycle, they start to transition to their summer homes. These areas could be shallow lily pads, shallow or deep weedlines, or deep rocks. I will discuss some of these areas in my tips for July. Tournament fishing has begun for me, so please visit www.BassMN.com to read how I do this season. If you are interested in a great deal on plastic lures, please visit www.TonkaTackle.com.
Good luck in June and keep your lines tight! See you on the water…
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