Professional anglers do a lot of seminars and hear a lot of the same questions over and over. One that I answer at seemingly every event is, “How do you know when the spawn actually starts?”

Maybe you’re fishing a lake where the water’s too dirty to see fish on beds or you’re on an unfamiliar body of water, but your fishing success often depends on identifying the stage the bass are in right now.

For me, one of the most important pieces of information is water temperature. When I go to a new lake, if I launch my boat in the morning – the coldest part of the day – and the water temperature gauge says 58 degrees, I automatically assume that it’s game on with the spawn. Somewhere on that lake there are fish on the beds and I’ve just got to find them.

If I don’t know the lake well, I’ll start my search by looking for areas that catch the most sunshine. That’s where the water warms the fastest in the morning and where the first spawners will be, as long as there’s appropriate depth and cover. Bass like heavy cover during the spawn, but won’t be positioned where you find them during any other time of the year. During the spawn they’re often next to or near the heavy stuff, but not in the middle of it.

For example, if I’m fishing hydrilla, instead of punching down through the middle I will throw in the holes around it or along the edge. If I’m fishing a laydown, instead of tucking my bait right up in the thickest tangle of branches, I always check beside the wood. That’s one thing I really like about the spawn; the bass are just more accessible to you.

If I determine the fish are on the nest and I’ve located a bed, that’s when I go one-dimensional with lure selection. I put down all my moving baits -- my suspending jerkbaits, spinnerbaits and crankbaits – and pick up a soft plastic. My two favorites are the YUM Dinger and Vibra King Tube.

That’s not to say that other styles of soft plastics won’t work. Creature baits, craws and lizards also pick bass off beds. The keys are to use a light weight, work it slowly and fish it next to the cover.