It’s pretty safe to say that the post-spawn is one of the hardest times of year to catch bass, in fact, many anglers feel it can be brutal.
Post-spawn begins right after the spawning stage when bass leave their spawning beds. Depending upon where you live the post-spawn stage can vary from February in the south to as late as July way up north.
Basically, after the spawn, bass are recovering and are often lethargic. Both females and males have been guarding beds persistently. Once the female is done, she will most likely head for deeper water to recover, while the male hangs around protecting the eggs. At this point, the male is ferociously attacking any and all threats to exhaustion. Once the eggs hatch, the males will continue to stay with the tiny bass (called “fry”) until they reach about 1 inch or so in length. The whole process can take several weeks and is very demanding on both the male and female bass.
Typically, female bass enter the post spawn stage while male bass are still guarding the nest, and ultimately the fry. During this time the larger female bass just don’t feed that much. They are focused on rest and recovery from the act of spawning. When they do feed, they will feed on the easiest bait for them to catch. This means you need to slow down your presentation.
In shallow water lakes and ponds, females will gravitate towards heavy cover, thick vegetation, and deeper water. Some females can be found hanging around bluegill/sunfish beds. Check any cover adjacent to nesting sunfish for lurking post-spawn females. One of my personal favorite presentations is rigging a light 3/16 oz jig with a bulky trailer. A black blue jig with a green pumpkin/orange trailer. I like to use colors that match the colors of a bluegill/pumpkinseed. A little orange coloring goes a long way this time of year. Make long casts fanning the flat and drag the jig back. If there is cover nearby, make several casts to the cover and be sure to get into the thickest part. Slow down, allow your jig to sit still for a few seconds between movements. You want to make your jig an easy target.
On reservoirs and impoundments, I like to searching for cover just outside bedding areas first and then look for the migration paths that head back out into deeper water. If you're hoping to catch a post-spawn female, you need to slow down, which is not always easy when the bite is slow.
While male bass tend to stay more aggressive and hang around the bedding area, they tend to gravitate towards grass. Grass offers some of the best protection for newly hatch fry (baby bass). When bucks are guarding fry, you can use a wide range of lures to entice a strike. Top Water lures like a Zara Spook, Sammy, or other stick baits are very effective. One of the most effective tactics is casting
weightless soft plastic lures like a Fluke, floating Worm, Slug-Go or Senko around the fry; allow it to sit still and then occasionally twitch the lure. Male bass guarding fry can’t stand this presentation and will generally attack as soon as the lure makes contact with the ball of fry. Many times you will see the fry but not the male guarding them. They like to lurk underneath the balls of fry, so make repeated casts to any fry you see. Cover is king for fry, so they are going to be hanging around weeds, lily pads, and even brush. Basically, anything that can offer the fry protection from predators.
The post-spawn can last up to about 3 or 4 weeks, unfortunately, and can be frustrating for anglers.
The good news is that once that’s over, you will start finding the aggressive bass schooling up and gravitating towards weed edges and points chasing schools of baitfish. This is when the top-water fishing explodes. Baits, such as poppers, frogs, walkers, and spooks are very popular and produce some big results. The nice part about topwater fishing is that you can cover a lot of water quickly… and let’s face it, nothing beats seeing a bass exploding on a surface lure!