The rapid approach of spring has thrown a curveball to anyone patterning bass by their usual seasonal locations. While anglers shouldn’t count out a cool-down, one Pittsboro, N.C., bass pro is predicting an early spawn, with fish going into post-spawn patterns by April on B. Everett Jordan Lake.
“Typically in April, I would still be working the back thirds of the creeks to the very backs around bushes in shallow water,” said Jonathan Phillips. “But if this weather pattern continues, I predict the water temperature will be in the 70s by April.”
Noting that bass are subject to spawn anywhere from 60 to 68 degrees and that water temperatures hit 62 in late February, Phillips believes the bulk of the fish will have already finished their business and be back looking for easy meals.
“If the water gets in the 70s, bass will be targeting shad spawns around boat ramps, riprap, and any rocky areas around the lake,” he said. “The first couple hours of the morning are the best time to catch them. We’re going to have a big shad spawn this year because the population has really taken off at Jordan.”
Phillips’ go-to bait for chunking into the massive schools is not a shad imitation. To stand out in the crowd, he throws a ½-ounce brown jig with a green pumpkin soft-plastic trailer so the bait resembles a bluegill; he swims it through the baitfish. This ties into his second post-spawn pattern — the bluegill spawn.
“Typically, once the bass come off the beds at Jordan, the bluegill start spawning,” Phillips said. “So, a lot of them hang up there shallow for a couple of weeks, feeding on them. You can find the beds by noticing a bunch of bream sitting near the surface of the water in a pocket or using your side-scan to see the pie-plate indentations on the bottom. I’ll either throw the brown/green pumpkin jig to them or run a topwater bait over the beds.”
If water temperatures take a nosedive and prespawn patterns persist, Phillips will hone in on secondary points in the backs of the creeks where fish set up before moving in to spawn. From there, he checks the hardbottoms and sandy banks in shallow water where bass will typically spawn, looking for the mud boils caused by fish fanning beds and going after them with a Chatterbait, spinnerbait, or a jig. His color choices range from white/chartreuse or peanut butter and jelly to brown/green pumpkin.