Prespawn Rules

One of the most important keys to locating good “spots” or the “juice” as some like to call it, is to understand the role that depth plays. That is good advice year-round but is especially critical in the early spring/prespawn stage.

This is essentially “Structure Fishing 101”. Understanding the important role of contours and depth changes. Just because things are covered in water and you can’t easily see below doesn’t mean that it all needs to be a mystery and therefore where I catch ’em or not seems random.

I’ll start out with one important rule:

You need to be aware of what is “deep” on the body of water you are fishing or the area on that body of water you are fishing at the moment.

Deep will always be relative – both for that body of water and for any given area on that body of water.

So that looks like this: I want to know the character of the lake or river overall. Is it full of deep water and sharp breaks or is it mostly shallow with lots of flats? If that character changes, where does it change? Are there areas behind shallow flats that have deeper water? Are there isolated deep holes inside of a flat area?

Potholes Reservoir dunes. Lots of shallow flats, so knowing the locations of deeper holes is critical.

All important things to know.

Now the next thing is to section off where you are fishing. That is, treat the areas you plan to work with the trolling motor as it’s own zip-code or ecosystem or mini lake, pond or river. Think of it in a small, manageable way that you can wrap your head around.

Once you’ve identified what your area is, then ask yourself this?

Do I know where the deepest water is in this area (within “trolling motor” distance)?

Don’t allow yourself to fish that area until you know the answer to that question.

This is where how well you know the lay of the land will play a huge role in the success or failure of your day.

That can mean simply being aware of the depth you are in at all times, or that could mean that you know where the deep water is because of your map/Google Earth study.

Google Earth can be a great source for locating the deepest water.
Figure out how you want to dial in to those “spot on a spot” areas
Make sure your Google Earth study makes it to your map on your boat. Some ares are uncharted and up to you to explore and navigate.

Now, onto the next rule:

You don’t need to fish deep, but you will be most successful fishing right next to “deep”.

What that means is that if I’m casting towards the shallows (fishing downhill), I want my trolling motor on the deep break. If I’m fishing uphill, from deep to shallow, I want to be able to reach that deep break on the cast.

Some areas have a break on more than one side of it. The more the better!

Neither approach means I am catching fish from deep water or that I am working my bait at the depths of deep water.

I just need to relate my boat positioning and presentations to that deep water, because the bass are going to relate (be near to) that deep water.


When looking at the question of “what is deep for where I am fishing”? It may be helpful to think of it like this:

Deep is when you can’t see the bottom.

That is a self-adjusting rule that takes into account water clarity. Now I’m assuming you have polarized sunglasses and average vision. When visibility is two feet or less or I can’t see the bottom at all, I count 3-feet deep as “deep”.

Water clarity helps define what “deep” is for a given area on a given day.

Make these 3 rules a priority of your fishing mental checklist and I’ll just about promise good results.

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