Small Waters Strategies – Junk fishing

Small Waters Strategies – Junk fishing

Jul 28, 2012

Bring a Full Arsenal During the Post-Spawn Junk Funk

By Mike Pehanich

The post-spawn funk is upon us bass fishermen on a lot of lakes in the upper Midwest, and this potentially frustrating phase in the bass activity calendar is spreading north.

Now fishing during the post-spawn isn’t always that bad. But it invariably tries the patience of bass anglers, and you can usually count on it to disappoint on one level or another.

You’ll catch fish, to be sure, but smaller bass far outnumber their bigger brethren shortly after the spawn, and most of the decent fish you catch are thin and ragged.

Often you will encounter what seem to be perfect weather conditions – stable temperatures, hazy skies, steady barometer. Yet, at the end of the day, you are left with the feeling you should have caught twice as many fish — and far more keepers than you managed.

Post-spawn junkin’

Another source of frustration is that it is hard to pattern post-spawn fish. You can catch them on just about any bait, but just when you think you’ve dialed in on a big-fish pattern, it fades or fizzles altogether.

Heck, yes, it’s good to be on the water and catching fish, but where’s that hefty sack of bass I should be catching?

Patience, guy.  This is spring junk fishing!

Better days are ahead when fish settle into those more predictable summer patterns, but, for now, it’s okay to rummage through the tackle box to find out what works.

Any bait in the box might have its moment, but don’t count on that bite to last – at least not on big fish.

Boyd Duckett, Bassmaster Classic Champion of 2007, finds that this post-spawn/early summer “junk fishing” approach plays to his strength as a versatile bass angler, always ready to capitalize on an opportunity whether it’s casting a topwater lure to a bass protecting a ball of fry or lowering a dropshot rig over a big arc he sees hanging over structure on his sonar unit.

Click on exclusive SWF video –Boyd Duckett: The Virtues of Versatility & the Junk Fishing Arsenal


You might even want to pull out those bags of off-the-wall-color plastics – including floating worms — that have gathered taken up space in your tackle bag for years. Pinks, reds, merthiolates and those funny brown-orange colors often outproduce the colors that serve you so well through most of the season. Who knows why?

Still, you can piece together a good day and even bring big fish to boat with a good game plan. And the plan is fairly simple.

1)   Find where they spawned.  Locate areas where the spawning activity was heaviest. These are usually shallow flats, but, if the water is clear, you may find largemouth as well as smallmouth bedding deep. Visible signs of nests are your best evidence, but broad areas with good bottom content for spawning (hard bottom with a thin layer of silt for largemouth) are a pretty good bet as well.

Boyd Duckett's arsenal included the Berkley Chigger Craw, shaky head jig with Berkley Havoc Bottom Hopper jig, and a bladed jig during a post-spawn "junk fishing" outing at VIP Adventures in Summerville, SC.

2)   Work backward from spawning areas. Study the cover and structural elements coming out of the spawning cove. Find areas where bass might rest and recuperate.

  1. Matted vegetation. Look for fish to rest under a canopy and take occasional sustenance from sunfish, frogs, fry, insects, and more. Frog time!
  2. Clumps and beds of submerged vegetation. Patches of grass and grass flats often hold recovering fish. Try finesse worms, lipless crankbaits, squarebills, swimbaits, spinnerbaits, and worms, especially stickworms and shaky head rigs.
  3. Stumps, brush piles and timber. Bounce those squarebills and spinnerbaits off the wood. Hop a shaky head worm near a brushpile. Bump a stump! Catch a fish!
  4. Points. Look for secondary points coming out of a spawning bay. Try jigs and deep crankbaits for those holding close to the structure along with shaky head and dropshot worms and other soft plastics. But jerkbaits, crankbaits, flukes and even topwater lures could attract suspending fish.
  5. Grass edges. A good inside “veg edge” will hold fish early and throughout the post-spawn period.  Some bass will arrive early on the deep grass edge, too. They are harbingers of a reliable summer pattern. Fish the entire water column.
  6. Mike Iaconelli relies heavily on the shaky head rig during a tough bite -- even with tough conditions on a dark water lake. See exclusive Small Waters Fishing video

    Dropoffs. Look for early “summer pattern” arrivals on classic structure — primary and secondary breaklines in natural lakes and creek and river beds on reservoirs. Work them over with jigs, dropshot rigs, worms and crankbaits.

3)   Let the location dictate lure and technique. Yes, post-spawn fish might hit anything, but select a lure that you can work considering cover, structure and fish position in the water column.

4)   Think ”finesse”. Expect post-spawn fish to be moody, out-of-sorts and relatively inactive. Be ready to coax them with one of your finesse techniques such as shaky head fishing, flick shaking, split-shot worming or dropshotting.

Find out how Mike Iaconelli gears up for post-spawn bass in exclusive SWF video Iaconelli – Gearing up for Shaky Head Fishing 





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