If there's a time of year bass fishermen absolutely despise - besides the dead of winter - it's those two or three weeks after the peak of the spring spawn.

That's when fish act like they don't want to eat, don't need to eat, have signed up to compete on a marine TV version of "The Biggest Loser" - because they're tuckered out from the act of reproduction.

Most fishermen will do all they can to avoid the postspawn, including putting their bass boat on plane and cruising 40 miles up a lake to find late spawners in a river or cruising just as far in the opposite direction to find fish that have moved out off the banks toward their summer pattern and are ready to eat again.

But don't confuse brothers-in-law Davy Hite and Scott Martin with "most" bass fishermen.

After making a name in South Carolina bass tournaments as team partners in the early 1990s, both have spent time at the national circuits - and both have won national-class events - and Hite has hit four of the biggest home runs in the sport, winning the Bassmasters Classic, FLW Tour Championship and Bass Angler of the Year twice.

But what really sets them apart is, they actually like to fish for postspawn bass. They even go out of their way to fish for those bass that are suffering from spawn withdrawal.

At their home waters of Lake Murray, they're just as interested in finding places where bass are coming off the bed as they are finding places where they're going on.

"The postspawn is a very good time, and it's a way I like to fish," said Hite, who lives at Ninety-Six. "I get the best of both worlds; I get to cover a lot of water, and I get to throw a bait that I think I can catch a big fish with. Face it, when I'm fishing tournaments, I'm throwing a lot of baits that I don't always think will catch big fish.

"And a buzzbait will catch 'em - especially at this time of year. Males are still shallow, guarding fry, in their protective mode - striking out in defense of the fry. You'll catch a lot of males - 1 1/2 to 2 1/2 pounds - but the females don't like it, either. They don't like a buzzbait running through there."

Martin gets right to the point when discussing Murray's great postspawn bite.

"It's a buzzbait and floating worm type deal, and it's awesome," said Martin, who lives in Saluda. "This is when you can really catch a big buzzbait fish."

Tying on a buzzbait or a floating worm is the easy part. Figuring out where to find bass in the right mode to strike one is the key.

In that vein, Hite and Martin try to gauge the progression of the spawn at Lake Murray, and how it's affecting fish across the 50,000-acre lake, then they try to fish "behind" it.

"Fish in Lake Murray will spawn from March to May," Hite said. "They don't all go up at one time. You have fish moving up at different times. When Murray was in its heyday - before they started messing around with the grass - if all of 'em came to the bank at once, there would have been so many fish there wouldn't have been room.

"Normally, when the most bass spawn depends on the moon. If we have a full moon the last part of March, we'll have a spawn the first of April. If we have (full) moon in early April, we'll have a spawn right after it."

Water temperature plays a big role in kicking off the spawn - or at least putting it on the tee where the moon phase can kick it off. It leads them to look to certain areas first - places where fish will spawn and come off the beds as much as a month earlier than fish in other parts of Murray.

"The spawn on Murray starts down toward the dam, on the northwest side of the lake," Hite said. "Coves there are protected from the cold, northeast wind, and they get more direct sunlight earlier in the spring, so they're the first to warm up and the first place they spawn.

"You can get fish spawning on that side of the lake by the end of March or first of April, when fish on the south side of the lake might not spawn for another month. Depending on the weather, you might have a good buzzbait bite by the first of April down by the dam. By the first of May, you'll have fish spawning on the other end and up the (Saluda) river. You can get a good buzzbait bite all the way into June.

"The other thing is, they work in and out of the creeks and coves to spawn. They'll spawn midway back in the creek, but the majority will spawn in the backs. When they finish, they'll migrate back out, but they'll stay around the area they spawned for several days - and the males will stay to guard the fry for a pretty good while."

Martin said he's been able to fish the post-spawn buzzbait bait for as much as three weeks at a single area, hitting the first fish that are coming off, then the bigger mass of fish that spawn at the main time, then the later spawners.

"Even though you have a period when most of the fish are gonna spawn, there'll be a period prior to and after it," he said. "You might get them from the end of one full moon close to the next one. If you can catch it right, you can fish the same basic pattern for three weeks, just catching different fish coming off.

"Those fish in the backs of those northeast coves are the first to go on and the first to get on a post-spawn pattern. I can catch fish either sight-fishing or postspawn, and sight-fishing is so tedious."

Hite said despite the popularity of sight-fishing among a lot of bass fishermen, he chooses to avoid it whenever possible.

"I try to stay in front of or behind the spawn," he said. "At midspawn, there are so many variables if you try to fish spawning fish."

Males, or "buck" bass, are the fish most likely to jump on a buzzbait or, under certain situations, a floating worm. Guarding the fry for up to a week after they're hatched, male bass will normally have their attention focused at two places - the bed and the surface from which most predators appear. That's where your buzzbait or floating worm will appear - putting a bass on point just as soon as he sees it.

"Most of the fish you catch will be bucks, but if you can get in the right area, you can catch five big females as quickly as you can catch five males," Martin said. "You may catch three males on a bank, then a 6-pound female. The thing is, if you find fish, stay on 'em."

So once an angler is keyed in on a part of a lake or learned how to follow the spawn and stay just "behind" it, what should a fisherman seek? Hite and Martin go first to spawning pockets, fishing shallow for male bass guarding fry, then they look a little deeper for the females lurking nearby.

If it's a cover situation, Martin said fish will spawn at stumps, docks or the "gator" grass that grows in the shallows at Murray.

"Gator grass is the perfect ambush point for bass," Martin said. "The gator grass will grow out in about 4 or 5 feet of water, and it will mat out on top. The fish will spawn in it, and some will sit on it."

"The gator grass is where most of the fish go after the spawn," Hite said. "It's really good to fish around with a buzzbait at this time of year, because fish seem to suspended around it."

Martin and Hite prefer to fish the upper half of the lake, from Dreher Island all the way up into the Big Saluda and Little Saluda rivers. The water is generally more stained, and there's plenty of gator grass. Also, the buzzbait bite will last later into the calendar. Their favorite creeks are Beards, Bear and Camping.

Hite said surprisingly the buzzbait bite will be a little better than the floating-worm bite, not only in terms of quality fish but in terms of numbers.

"It's really unusual, but fish that seem to be hard to catch on a floating worm or a spinnerbait, they'll come up and kill a buzzbait - they must be in a protective mode," Hite said. "But it's an off-a-day, on-a-day thing.

"You can't come to Lake Murray from 100 miles away and say, 'I'm gonna catch 'em on a buzzbait today.' If you pick one up and throw it for a while and get bit, you can fish it all day long, sunny or cloudy, but if you throw it for a while and don't get bit, put it down and pick up a floating worm."

Martin said he'll tend more toward a floating worm when he's fishing behind a cold front, even in late May.

"If you hit a cold front, you might have several buzzbait strikes where they don't bite - they just swirl on the bait," he said. "That's when I'll go with a floating worm. I try to fish it about a foot-and-a-half below the surface.

"A lot of fishing pressure will also do that to fish. If you've got five guys in a creek, all of them throwing buzzbaits, the fish will know they're there. You can go behind them with a floating worm and catch fish."

Hite fishes a War Eagle buzzbait, typically from 1/8- to ½-ounce.

"I'll play with colors, fish with what I have confidence with, but if I don't get hit, I won't keep throwing the same thing," he said.

"I'll use black, white and chartreuse, but if I had to pick a color, it would be chartreuse/white with a silver blade. I'll fish it on 20-pound Berkley Trilene Big Game.

"The size of the bait I use depends on water clarity. If it's clear, I'll use 1/8- to 3/8-ounce, and if it's stained, I'll use 3/8- to ½-ounce. I'll use a split-tail (trailer) in clear water because I want a bait with a smaller profile so I can fish it faster. In stained water, I'll use a grub, which will give the bait a little extra vibration and buoyancy.

"My retrieve depends on the water clarity. The clearer the water, the faster I'll reel, and I don't reel the bait straight in. I'll twitch it and vary the retrieve. I'll reel it faster the first part of the retrieve and slower the second, or slower first and faster as I get it to the boat.

"Or you can trigger strikes by jumping the bait, especially if you see a fish following it. I noticed when I was a kid that a shad that thinks it's fixing to get eaten, he runs. A lot of times a bass will miss a bait, if you speed it up, he'll go after it because nothing in nature slows down before it gets eaten."

When Hite turns to a floating worm, he'll use a Berkley Power Floater, rigging it with a 3/0 Owner Rig-N-Hook, with a swivel about 14 inches above the bait to keep line twist at a minimum and make it more castable; Hite rarely uses anything but a bait-caster reel.

"I'll fish a floater on 10- to 15-pound test - the heaviest I can get away with," Hite said. "If I'm fishing around gator grass, I'll fish 15, but if it's a light spot, maybe a place where I think there are beds, I'll use 10."