Oklahoman Jason Christie has proven himself at the top levels of pro bass fishing. As one of the few who has won an event on the Bassmaster Elite Series, the FLW Tour and the PAA, Christie has gained the respect of his peers across all major tours. His years of experience and success have helped him to form a simple, specific approach for targeting bass after they are done spawning and before they settle into a full summer pattern.
Each lake and each region of the country varies greatly on when bass spawn. Factor in the differences between species and it is a widespread timeline of spawning activity. The post-spawn, naturally fluctuates as well, and according to Christie it lasts up to a month until the bass are in full summer mode. This time of year is often categorized as some of the toughest fishing of the year, the “post-spawn funk” is something that bass anglers often mention woefully, but if approached properly, it can be rewarding to the angler who knows what to target.
Tournament Winning Fish
Before delving into his thoughts on bass locations after the spawn, Christie had a short disclaimer, “I’m not going to say all bass go deep after they spawn, but the big fish, the tournament winning bags of fish are often found in really deep water.” With that being said, he began to share his thoughts on these deeper bass. “I started figuring this out just a few years ago, but I have found that bass will be about as deep as they will be all year right after they spawn and will be on sloping banks and little humps or bars. The bigger fish want to get out deep and rest as they feed up,” adds the Oklahoma pro. His idea of deep water is around 20 feet deep and that is something that will vary from lake to lake based on the layout and the overall depths that the lake features. He recalled his thought process in the past when faced with post-spawn bass that had seemingly disappeared. “We used to think they were weak or sickly after the spawn or just didn’t want to eat, but I found out that a lot of these fish just move out to that deeper water,” admits Christie.
Get a Reaction
When targeting these deep, post-spawn bass Jason Christie often just relies on two types of baits, a deep diving crankbait and a swimbait fished on a 1 ounce jighead. With these two types of baits he is comfortable fishing deep water and knows that they will be big enough offerings to tempt the larger females that are looking for a big meal.
When faced with these situations, his first choice would be to pick up his crankbait rod, “I use two different crankbaits made by Bomber, the BD7 and BD8. They will run between 17-20 feet deep,” adds Christie.
Getting a crankbait to dive as deep as possible is important when fishing for these post-spawn fish – and bottom contact is key. Some pros have discovered the long-lining or strolling technique as a way to get their crankbaits deeper than ever before. Jason Christie uses the same principle without the use of a trolling motor. To get every inch of added diving depth, Christie will make a very long cast and then pull some line off his reel. Christie will make sure he has as much line out as possible before starting his retrieve since simply having more line out allows the crankbait to reach deeper depths. “If you make a long cast and then pull some line out before you start to reel it in, you can get any deep crankbait to dive a few extra feet,” shares Christie.
He mentions that the key is to reel the crankbait as fast as possible. “I just crank as hard as I can. You are trying to get a reaction out of them and this is the best way to do it,” adds the touring pro.
When fishing a swimbait on a 1 ounce jighead, Christie opts for a Yum Money Minnow in a shad pattern. “With that bait there are two types of retrieves I use. The first is to let it fall to the bottom and then slowly bring it back in, the other is to let it fall to the bottom and then crank it really fast for 5 or 6 cranks and then let it fall back down, you are fishing it almost like a big flutter spoon,” says Christie. Like fishing a deep-diving crankbait, the key is to get a reaction from fish that are in a less than ideal mood and he believes that those two retrieves are the best way to tempt post spawn bass with a swimbait.
When asked how the different species of bass act, Jason Christie mentioned that they are all pretty similar in their post-spawn ritual. “Spotted bass do act a little different and they seem to go out even deeper after they spawn. Largemouth and smallmouth seem to head to the same depths and to the same areas, I have seen it a few times where they will school together and you will catch different species back to back,” adds Christie.
Not all bass will be in super deep water and there is a small window where the male bass will be shallow guarding their fry. “On clear lakes this is definitely a pattern that we need to use. It’s almost like bed fishing, because each bass acts a little differently when they are guarding fry,” says Christie. Like sight-fishing, fishing for bass that are guarding fry often requires a diverse arsenal of baits. “Sometimes I will have five or six rods rigged up when I’m fishing for them. The best baits are a tube, Spook, or a Pop-R, but I have probably caught more on a Pop-R than anything else,” shares the Oklahoman. While this is primarily a clear water technique, Christie added that there are some key areas that bass will hold their fry even when you are not able to see them. “Bass like to keep the fry in the shade and good places to look are around logs or under branches,” adds Christie.
Fishing after the bass spawn can be frustrating, the pre-spawn and spawn are packed with aggressive bass in the shallows, only to turn into the finicky post-spawn phase. By taking a different approach and heading to deeper water, post-spawn fishing can be just as rewarding as long as an angler is willing to do what it takes to get a reaction out of the negative fish.