I’m going to let you in on a secret that will either blow your mind or substantiate your long-held belief that I might be a bit crazy.
But hear me out.
For those of you who head into northern states this fall to chase big, aggressive smallmouth, pay attention to what you might see around traditional spawning areas.
Look for what appears to be a freshly dished out area, and you might see smallmouth sitting on a bed.
Yes, I know bass traditionally spawn in the spring. But I’m telling you, there is a weird thing that I and some of my nut bag brethren have seen first-hand: a fall — albeit, false — spawn.
I’ve been fishing northern Michigan ever since I was 20 years old, and I have seen giant male smallmouth creating beds and locking onto them the same way they do in May and June.
It typically occurs when the water starts dropping into the mid to low 60s and those conditions collide with a full moon.
Now, I’m not saying the spawning ritual goes beyond the male’s activities. Yet, there obviously are some confused, if not misguided, male bass. They go through the motions only to be heartbroken when the girl of their dreams fails to show up.
And before you assume Zona has completely lost his mind, let me assure you I’ve had these discussions with some well-respected and experienced smallmouth anglers who confirm they’ve seen the same thing.
I’m not saying the entire smallmouth population in a lake participates, but certainly enough that it’s a pattern I look for when I know the conditions are right in the fall.
Here’s another element to this oddball phenomena: Those fish return to the exact same patch of reeds or rock on which they spawned the previous spring. In fact, I swear I see the same fish where I saw it bedding earlier in the year, and often times, it has created the bed exactly on the same side of the rock or spot in the reeds.
Unless he gets caught or dies during the season, that same fish shows up each fall. I’ve watched some of these fish grow up.
The fish are looser around the bed than they were earlier in the year. They wander off and circle the saucepan but will come back to it. They are a little more timid, but certainly catchable.
But they do look confused.
Am I confused? No way. I’ve seen it too many times. You might see it too if you go snooping around those spawning flats when the moon is big and water temp is right.