Written by Andrew Schadegg

Around this time of year you start to hear some technical terms thrown around a lot. Prespawn, migration routes, wintering areas and the list could go on. If you’re not a seasoned angler, maybe just starting out in the sport or perhaps even been fishing for a while, but trying to take it to the next level, it’s very easy to get confused.

So let’s simplify it and define some terms to get you all caught up and ready to get out on the water and maximize this awesome time of year!

PRESPAWN – Any time before bass move up on their beds to spawn (lay their eggs). Normally designates a season of late-winter to early spring. More of a state, rather than a specific time of year, as different geographical locations will experience the prespawn and spawn at different times.

Let’s break this down a bit.

First off, know that the prespawn can be the best fishing of the entire year and also the best chance to catch a GIANT bass. The reasoning is two-fold. Bass are hungry and the big bass are vulnerable. When bass leave their wintering areas… dang it, one of those phrases again! Let’s define.

WINTERING AREAS – These are the deeper areas that bass spend most their time when the water temperature is the coldest. They move to these spots because they are the most comfortable, it’s easy to feed without a lot of energy and oxygen levels are good. A lot of times these are deep spots just off of points, drop offs, near humps or on ledges, so they can move up shallow easily to eat.

Ok, where were we? When bass leave their wintering areas, they start to feed up heavily to get ready for the spawn. This is when the bigger females pair up with the smaller males and they mate. Eventually, they move up on shallow areas or flats, make circular beds, lay their eggs and hang out to guard them for a bit. Before they get to those shallow areas, however, they move from those wintering areas to their spawning grounds via what we call migration routes.

Ready for another definition?

MIGRATION ROUTE – This is an underwater path or highway that the majority of the bass will take between their deep wintering areas and their shallow spawning grounds. Ditches, canals or other structure at the mouth of a creek arm or bay. In a small pond, this could be 30 feet. In a large lake or reservoir, this could be as much as a mile or more (farther for smallmouth and spotted bass). Typically it’s somewhere in between.

Figuring out these migration routes are key to find the fish in the prespawn time. A great rule of thumb is to study some maps. Find your big creek arms or bays that look like they might have a good flat area for the spawn. If you’ve fished a body of water in the spring before, you might know where these areas are already. Follow out from those areas to the deeper spots and nearest points, ledges or breaks that seem like they would be good holding areas for the bass before they get up into the shallows.

Try working fast moving reaction lures such as lipless cranks, jerkbaits, topwater, swimbaits or spinnerbaits. These are going to help you cover water quickly and find those aggressive fish. Once you identify the types of areas they are using to transition, you have a good chance of loading the boat in a hurry.

Hopefully this helps clear up a few of those pesky words and will help you figure out the prespawn bass fishing puzzle this season.

Here’s a handy guide to a general bass migration route in the springtime:


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