Most of us understand what bass do in the spring; they move towards shallow water in preparation for their annual spawn. Many of us have had it pounded into our heads that we have to find the skinniest and most unmolested backwaters to find these bass. That’s how it was for me growing up. Heck, I got in trouble on a field trip in fifth grade when I wandered away from my class because I saw a backwater slough and went to look for bedding bass. I sincerely thought that was the only place to find spawners.
As I got older and much more experienced in my pursuit of bass, I actually started steering away from these areas more regularly. I believe a lot of bass prefer to spawn in shallow water that’s adjacent to some sort of deep water. Those backwater sloughs certainly play host to springtime bass but I believe that population is very finite. Many of those bass are resident fish which means that the area won’t always repopulate with fresh fish. I think a lot of those bass live back there for their entire lives and rarely, if ever, leave.
The moment that solidified this theory for me was when I caught my personal-best bass that weighed 13.14 pounds. She had an entire shallow, sandy backwater to spawn on if she wanted. It was south-facing and just a perfect setup for a big female. But she didn’t choose that area. Instead, she chose the base of a laydown that was in about four feet of water with 15 feet of water just a few yards away. And before you send an angry email, I didn’t sight fish for her and had no idea she was on bed until after the catch… and yes, she was released alive.
I really think these big females are smart and somehow understand that spring is a volatile time of year in terms of the weather. They choose these shallow-water areas with deep water adjacent in order to be able to quickly adjust to quickly changing conditions. If a cold front comes through, they can kick their tail three times and slide off the break line into 15 feet of water. Conversely, if a warming trend occurs, they can slide up and lay their eggs quickly.
So can those sexy-looking backwaters hold some big bass in the spring? You’re dang right they can. But I think those fish are much easier to spook and much less likely to replenish throughout the spring.