The prespawn should be the best time to hook big, hungry bass, but these hard-to-find fish can drive anglers to the brink of insanity. Our experts have figured out their locations—and favorite meals—to help you catch a trophy before they hit the beds.
Pro Drew Montgomery
Home Water Lake Norman, North Carolina
Credentials Montgomery has been a guide on Lake Norman for 15 years and has fished the FLW Tournament Trail for 20 years.
Anglers often fish too slow and too deep during the prespawn, Montgomery says. “The average angler would be amazed by how many fish I catch on a square-billed crankbait in 2 feet of water when it’s cold. Even when the water temps are in the upper 40s, you can catch fish super shallow with faster presentations.”
Montgomery targets small bays, “nooks” that he feels get overlooked. “Most anglers will go right into the large bays with large spawning areas,” he says, “but smaller ones will warm quicker and get much less fishing pressure.” While the bass are still staging, he only fishes one-third of the way in toward the shallows, keeping his boat in roughly 8 feet of water and casting at the bank. He’s noticed that smaller spawning areas with adjacent deep water hold fish much earlier. When identifying likely hotspots, Montgomery looks for rocks and red clay; the combo makes excellent habitat for crawfish. His go-to lure is a 1⁄4-ounce Luhr-Jensen Speed Trap in the crawdad-crystal pattern.
Luhr-Jensen Speed Trap
Photograph by Brian Grossenbacher