Transitional fish

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Now we’re talking fish that are on the move. But ironically, the best places to fish for them will be stationary. What I mean by that is that I don’t like to go out and move around with a particular school of fish with something like a spybait as they move into the prespawn stage. Instead, find one large piece of hard cover like a bridge, 45-degree bank or channel swing and then let the fish come to and by you as they make their way into the spawning areas. Multiple schools of fish will use the same highways and this way you can catch fish in the same areas for weeks and months as they move in and back out from the spawn.

The key is finding deep water near shallow water. Somewhere the fish can set up, feed and then push shallow to spawn as soon as the urge hits them. There are several lakes like this that I frequent here in Alabama where these fish are the ones you really want to focus on. But the most textbook bite I ever got on like this came on Kentucky Lake in the 2011 FLW College Fishing National Championship.

Get ready for a name drop.

None other than the famed Jordan Lee and I were fishing together for Auburn University and we found a couple banks like this headed back into large bays off the main lake. Each had a small creek channel that weaved its way into the pocket. The places where those channels came right up next to the bank were the deal. And one in-particular held 80 to 90 percent of the fish we weighed in that week to inevitably finish 3rd. That’s the bank you see in the picture above, a perfect example of what to look for.

You’ll notice in that picture also that we were sitting close to the bank paralleling it with our baits. We caught our fish that week on 1/4-ounce shaky heads with NetBait Mini Kickin’ Bs and finesse jigs with the same bait as a trailer. We didn’t parallel the bank all the time, however. When you find a place like this with a concentration of fish, it’s a good idea to make several passes from different angles. The best part of that stretch was about 100 yards long, with a few bites coming within 50 more yards of either side of it. We would make our way down that stretch sitting a good cast away throwing perpendicular to the bank and then make another pass up tight throwing straight down the bank. Then we’d make another pass up tight to the bank throwing out into the deeper water and dragging our baits up. We got bit doing all of these things.

Other baits that work extremely well fishing for prespawn bass in these type places are jerkbaits, swimbaits and umbrella rigs if allowed. Those baits are all better suited though for fish that are suspending. What you’ll often find with areas like this is that on certain days, the fish are suspended and on other days they are holding tight to the bottom or boulders and laydowns along the banks. The two factors that seem to influence this shift the most are water clarity and current. If the water is clearer and slack, the fish will often suspend. More current and color and the fish will head to the bottom where they have a better chance of cornering a meal.