Last weekend officially opened bass fishing for the entire state of Minnesota. Since the seasons change so rapidly in Minnesota and the water warms so quickly, the bass have a narrow window in which the water temperature is ideal for spawning. I was lucky enough last weekend in Aitkin County to experience the large females preparing for their spawn. I was able to find their spawning beds, or nests, in 3-5 feet of water using my polarized sunglasses to see below the water's surface. I caught the majority of my fish on a salamander soft plastic bait utilizing the Texas rig set up. It was exciting fishing and all fish were released so they could return to their spawing beds.
This past weekend I traveled to a north metro lake in hopes of finding similar fishing conditions. The first detail I look for to determine my fishing strategy is water temperature. I notice that the water was around 64-65 degrees, up a few degrees from the previous weekend. I started looking for fish in the shallow water in hopes of spotting bass hanging around their beds. Unfortunately, all I observed were empty beds with fry bass and sunfish cruising around. This led me to believe that the bass may be in postspawn mode, which typically can be one of the most difficult times to fish.
During the postspawn, the bass are trying to recoup and re-energize after the spawning event. This is often a period of very difficult fishing, as the fish do not have the energy to chase bait and aggressive presentations. Often, the bass will retreat to deeper waters in search of deep weedlines to use as cover. During this period, I have found that using subtle techniques and a precise presentation can still land many fish for an enjoyable outing. Here are a few tips to help in your postspawn search...
1. Once you have found a deserted spawning ground, head to deeper water adjacent to this area. Often the bass will still be relatively close, as they don't have much energy to do extensive traveling.
2. Once fish are located, try downsizing your lures and presentations. Fish will still bite during this period, but their strike zone is small, so getting the bait in their face is key as well as a bait that can be easily eaten.
3. Try many different colors and mix up your lures. Sometimes these finicky times call for using a variety of baits until a pattern is found. Don't be afraid to use that hot pink plastic or that impulse lure buy you purchased 2 years ago. Who knows, it might make your outing.
4. Have patience. Fishing can be tough this time of year, but with patience and practice, many fish can still be caught, and you will have a sense of pride once you figure them out.
5. Have Fun! Heck, your still fishing and time on the water is still fun! If you bring your kids along and the bass are not cooperating, try fishing for panfish as they are cruising the shallows now.