Developing a Pre-Spawn Shallow Pattern

Developing a Pre-Spawn Shallow Pattern

As pre-spawn bass transition from deep water to a shallow water pattern, many anglers automatically assume the fish will be caught against the bank. The shoreline will start to get a lot of pressure from bank beaters that will pick up a fish here and there, but many anglers do not realize only a small percentage of bass will be relating to isolated shallow cover near the shoreline.

While fish are being caught shallow near the bank, tournament anglers looking for a limit will be taking the time to look for irregular features in structure near shallow areas and close to deep water. It is better to catch five bass with five casts than it is to catch five bass from five spots and five hundred casts. 3:00 PM comes too quickly to spend all day looking for shallow bass. Here is how to pattern pre-spawn bass before you even launch.


By carefully studying a good contour map of the lake you intend to fish can make the difference once you are on the water. Look for shallow areas near the shore that is in relation to rapid drops between five and seven feet or more. The steeper the drop is the better the area will be. Areas from the main lake toward the backs of creeks and warmer water such as secondary banks, secondary points, long extended flats and ledges, and deeper shore lines with ample cover can be gold mines.

It may not be possible to find a good map of the lake you will be fishing; this is when technology can be an angler’s best friend. Websites such as Google Earth and Navionics can show you structure changes that you can pinpoint on your Humminbird after you get out on the water. Even cell phone apps are now available to assist anglers in locating structure.


These shallow areas that hold pre-spawn fish vary in appearance but they do have a common characteristic: they are all close to deep water. For structure to be productive it must provide bass with essential necessities and deep water is one of them. Deep water provides security and an escape route and in an environment where bigger fish eat smaller fish this is a basic instinct all fish need to satisfy. Bass also gather in areas that provide forage in the pre-spawn and structure provides bait fish the same security as it does the larger predators.

Studying a body of water beforehand is a great investment of an angler’s time. Even when pre-fishing days are available the time on the water is a valuable commodity. Many anglers rely on their ability to read a shoreline, and this will give some clues as that what is going on beneath the surface of the water, but it can also be misleading.

This is why a map is so important. If you can locate an area such as a shallow shoreline shelf that follows along the bank near deep water it could be a great spot. However using a contour map you will be able to look for changes in the attributes in the structure of the shelf such as deep depressions, crevices or ditches that serve as travel routes and ambush points for bass. Find these areas and you just found a honey hole. Once you’re on the water you can head straight to these areas and then break the structure down and locate bass on your Humminbird.


Shallow patterns in the pre-spawn are without a doubt the most productive fishing of the year, but with a little homework the fishing can be even better. Shallow points, humps, and ridges hold bass for a reason. They provide everything bass need. Anglers that learn this can then focus on which baits to use to match the forage the bass in these areas have gathered to feed on. Search baits such as crankbaits, jigs and soft plastics are productive pre-spawn lures and with the time invested in finding the location will pay off on the water as these search baits are used to find the pattern within the pattern.

Happy Fishing!

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