Taking the Highway to Prespawn Success
Every lake in every country has them. We’ve all fished a couple in our travels and were probably successful. But like a lot of anglers, you may not have known what you were fishing. The shoreline cover gradually changed from chunk rock to pea gravel. You may not have realized that the slight change in cover is the very reason that you were able to catch those fish.
Transition banks are very simply a place where some form of cover makes a change to another form of cover along a shore line. These areas are often act as magnets in the spring for holding prespawn bass. They will use them as a “highway” to travel to and from spawning areas. By understanding and dissecting these transition banks, you will have the recipe to fill your livewell in a hurry.
Some common transition areas
Changes in rock size—This can be a transition from chunk rock to pea gravel, boulder to chunk rock, vice versa, or a myriad of other combinations. Rock transition banks are probably the most common form of transitions found across the country and definitely the easiest to identify.
Changes in types of vegetation—Obviously, this isn’t found everywhere but it is often overlooked. Places where two or more types of grass start to blend together tend to act like an edge for bass. They will often use them like the edge of a weed line. Plus, this often signals a change in bottom composition, which is important no matter what phase the fish are in.
Changes in types of timber—I group all types of timber into this. Anything from standing pole-type wood to flooded bushes, anywhere that it changes from one type to another is a transition. Just like with the vegetation, most of the time, the change of wood cover means that there is a change in the hardness of the lake bottom. Cedar trees, for example, normally grow in a hard, rocky bottom.
Changes in bottom composition—This is probably the hardest to identify because it normally requires the angler to find them with their electronics. Regardless, it’s important to know about especially in those featureless lakes that don’t offer much in the way of depth changes or cover. A lot of Texas lakes are suffering from a massive drought and are extremely low. Finding that hard bottom and getting away from the muddy bottoms eliminates a lot of unproductive water. Lake Okeechobee in Florida is another good example. A person can get overwhelmed very easily with the amount of grass there. But the bass aren’t just everywhere. By finding the grass that grows on a hard bottom, you are almost certainly in an area that holds a lot of bass.
While transition areas may hold fish during other times of the year, they play a major factor into my prespawn fishing. Before attacking a transition area, I first have to decipher how far into the prespawn that fish are. Obviously, if it’s early in the phase, I’ll concentrate my efforts on main lake points that lead into major creeks. If it’s getting very close to an actual spawn, I’ll look for secondary points leading into spawning pockets/bays. If it’s spring, chances are that you will find bass somewhere in between those two areas in your neck of the woods.
For the most part, the transition banks that I find in my local waters involve some form of rock cover. I always like to start out on these spots by fishing a crankbait. In most cases, I’ll start with the M9 squarebill made by Skirmish Baits. Because it’s spring, it’s important to take into account the weather and the mood of the fish. Most of us fish a crankbait fast. If a front has just moved through the area, you would be better served by fishing at a steady speed with a bait that doesn’t have a very aggressive wobble.
After fishing the crankbait, I’ll saturate the area with a jig or shakey head. Basically, I’m trying to get a few bites to establish a pattern. By simply paying attention when getting a bite, I can easily decide whether the fish are relating to the cover. Maybe they are deeper on the transition or relating to the transition banks on channel swings. Whatever I find, this is a pattern that I can run throughout the entire lake. This works out great in multiple day tournaments because I am able to run through a bunch of places and not run out of fish. Plus, since a transition bank is normally a small area, I can really saturate the spot in less than 10 minutes. So I can pull up on a transition bank, fish for roughly 10 minutes, and know that I have covered nearly every inch on that spot. If I didn’t catch anything, I simply move on to another spot that is a bit different. If I did catch fish, then I’m going to find similar spots to expand on the pattern.
Now that you are familiar with transition banks and have an idea on how to attack them, make them part of spring fishing plans. By following the “Transition Highway” on your favorite lake, I can guarantee you will be exiting at the Winner’s Circle!
Don’t let what you cannot do interfere with what you can do.