Time for a Change–Mark Menendez Pro Pointer

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This is the $64 million dollar question in bass fishing. Weather, temperature, and fishing pressure will contribute to a tactical change. There is another factor that causes an angler to react, the spawning ritual can give anglers the clue when it is time to change.

As all of the factors line up for the spawn, fish aggression will change. Water temperatures will need to be in the 55-60 degree range and the moon phase will be growing to the full moon. These two factors will set the tone for fish to move shallow to spawn. Fish will begin to flood the shallows and begin looking for a place to call home. At this time they will not turn down an easy chance to feed, and reaction lures are the ticket.

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As the full moon phase draws near, the bass will begin to start cleaning hard bottom areas in order to build a bed. They are beginning to become territorial, and the strike zone is limited to around the new bed. The distance a bass will come to address a lure will become even smaller as the females show up in the spawning areas. Once the spawning process begins, the strike zone is limited to the bed itself, and the major trick is to recognize what stage of the spawn is taking place now.

The early stage of the spawn calls for reaction lures. A lipless crankbait and a spinnerbait are great choices as the bass move up to look for bedding areas. Brightly colored baits draw the most attention. A Strike King Redeye Shad is a versatile lipless bait, the loud rattles and vibration can be felt in the water for long distances.

Bass tend to react very well to shades of red now. A lift and fall retrieve will make the bass react to the bait. When fishing areas will significant aquatic grasses, use a 30 to 50-pound-test braided line like Seaguar Kanzen to rip the Redeye free from the grass. When the lipless bait breaks free and falls back towards the grass, at that moment the bass will inhale the bait on the fall.

A Hack Attack Heavy Cover Spinnerbait is the choice when fishing in stained water. The design of this bait allows it to be retrieved throw and around heavy cover. The large willow leaf blade will provide the flash to make a bass think it is feeding on a large gizzard shad. The heavy cover is demand 20-pound-test Seaguar InVizX fluorocarbon for the strength and abrasion resistance to drag those heavy fish from the cover.

The moon phase will have a distinctive effect on the bass now they have migrated to the spawning area. The males will begin to search out prime spawning areas. When the male has selected a bedding site, he will defend the area. The strike zone may be a large as 10 feet radius area the new bed. A Strike King Wild Shiner Jerkbait provides the flash of a wounded bait fish. A fast jerk-jerk pause cadence will pull the bass to the bait. Flashy chrome finishes will make the fish react to the baitfish imitation.

Mark Menendez Shallow Water
As the day progresses watch how the fish address the jerkbait. If the fish are barely hooked or are slapping at the bait, it is time for a presentation change. Cast the jerkbait towards the bedding area. Allow the bait to float to the surface, and twitch the bait twice with the rod tip, then allow the bait to reappear on the surface; then wait two seconds before twitching the bait again. This will give the bass a longer look at the bait. Spawning bass do not like baits above the bed. A jerk and pause cadence gives the bass the time to look over the intruder before attacking.

A final presentation that will come in to play is a stickworm. A Strike King Shim-E- Stick is a 5 inch straight stickworm. This bait has very little action, but don’t be fooled by the action or the lifelessness of this worm, it is the answer when the females have moved to the beds. Rigged with an offset 4/0 hook, the weightless presentation can be irresistible for the spawning bass.
The angler just needs to cast the bait on 15 to 20-pound-test Seaguar InVisX fluorocarbon to the bed. The angler does not need to impart little action to the Shim-E- Stick as it falls into the bed. Fluorocarbon line sinks and this helps to pull the weightless offering to the bass.

As it falls, the tail of the Shim-E- Stick has a swimming motion as if it were alive. Spawning bass will react well to this presentation. A light slip sinker may be added on days with wind, this will help keep the bait on the bottom in the strike zone.

These distinct behavioral traits can be noticed in the bass on a daily or even hourly basis. By paying attention to the aggression of the bass, anglers can reap the benefits of continual strikes in a day’s time.

Mark Menendez is a Bassmaster Elite Series Professional angler. You may follow him on Facebook, Twitter, and at Markmenendez.com