Don’t beat the beds; look for prespawn bass in April

prespawn bass
Plenty of largemouth bass in Carolina lakes and rivers will be in the prespawn pattern in April. Your job? Find them. (Picture by David Hawkins)

Target prespawn bass this month

April is the No. 1 month to bass fish for a lot of fishermen — just not me. And I think that if you’re one of those guys who excels when it comes to catching bass off the bank, you can understand where I’m coming from.

Fish are going to be shallow this month. You can pretty much take it to the bank. They’re going to be in 5 feet of water or less, maybe even 3 feet or less. Most bass in the Carolinas will spawn in April — if they didn’t spawn in March — except for maybe some fish in the lakes along the North Carolina-Virginia border, like Buggs Island and Gaston.

When it comes to April and spawning fish, I’m 64 years old, and my eyesight isn’t what it used to be. I can’t see those bedding fish as well as a lot of guys. So what I’m stuck with is trying to fish for bass that aren’t locked onto the bed. Throughout the month, I’ll keep trying to find some prespawn fish, fish that will really bite.

Look for staging areas to find prespawn bass

A lot of times, the best way to find prespawn fish is to look for banks that will lead into pockets, maybe secondary points. You want to fish banks that are deeper, that drop off enough that you are sitting in 10 or 12 feet of water, casting to the bank.

The fish that are sitting on these kinds of places, they’re staging, getting ready to move up. You are looking for them before they move into the pockets to spawn. One thing that’s good about finding them before they move in is that you’ll have a lot less company fishing for them. Fish that are in pockets really get hammered; they get so much pressure. So I like to fish where they’re going to stage on slightly deeper banks. That has helped me a lot.

Before the move

I can remember, years ago, just about winning a tournament in April on Buggs Island, fishing a little, deep bank in Nutbush Creek where they were staging before they moved into a pocket. You might find them outside a pocket that’s a little longer. And an even better place is a secondary point between two pockets.

These fish are always close to the bank, but you can’t see them. And they will be there until they move into the pocket to spawn.

Learn your lake

So how do I get started? You have to know a little bit about how the lake you’re fishing sets up. And some lakes are a little bit harder to read. In some lakes, all the bass come to the bank at once, but most of the time, they come in two or three waves. Each lake has its own character.

Bass will usually spawn up the lake first, but lakes are different. At Lake Wylie, they spawn down the lake earlier than up. But the water is usually a little warmer up the lake first. And that will get them started. Now, if you have some dirty water from runoff, that will put the spawn off a little, and you can find prespawn fish in those places. A lot of the time, that’s why you go up the lake to find preseason fish — the water will have a better stain there.

Up the creek

I think you’re going to find on a lot of lakes that most of your later-spawning fish will spawn up in the creeks, so you can find prespawn fish up there when they’re spawning back down the creek. As far as cover, I’m going to look for rocks. If there’s some wood around those rocks, that’s even better. But the rocks are more important. And I’m going to fish something that I can cover a lot of water with, and that they’ll bite when you get around them. For me, that’s the Berkley Frittsides. I’ll have a No. 5 tied on, or a No. 5 Biggun. I always throw bright colors in April, colors like homer. I think they work better for prespawn bass.

One thing to think about. A lot of these places to catch prespawn fish in April, you’ll probably be in the same neighborhood where you can catch some post-spawn fish that spawned early on. I know that one time, I almost won a tournament on Lake Eufala in Alabama, one of the first FLW tournaments, I think, catching prespawn and post-spawn fish in the same places, 10 or 12 feet deep. I remember there was a guy who finished in the top 10 going down the bank in front of me, catching spawners, and I was catching prespawn and post-spawn fish a little farther off the bank. That can happen in the Carolinas, and it’s a great situation to run into.

So, don’t approach April with your boat deck full of rods with nothing but baits tied on that are designed to catch bedding fish. Yeah, you might run into one, so be ready. But look for those hungry prespawn bass that are a little bit behind their brothers. They’re just as big and just as fun to catch.

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About David Fritts 117 Articles
David Fritts is a 61-year-old pro bass fisherman from Lexington, N.C. He won the 1993 Bassmasters Classic champion and the 1997 FLW Tour Championship, and he was the 1994 BASS Angler of the Year. He is sponsored by Ranger boats, Evinrude outboards, Lew’s, Minnkota,and Berkley.

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