Pre-spawn is a short period of time when the big females stage before going onto their nests. I say it is a short period of time because of the short period of time from when the fish get ready and the time they actually drop their eggs. Pre-spawn is not just in February. Females will be spawning from the end of February to the end of May. For about 3 months, the fish will be moving in and out of the shallows in different stages. They actually spawn in distinct waves about a week apart once the water temperature reaches the 60's. By the 3rd week of April, the spawning waves become less noticable. However, there will be bass in all 3 spawning stages for about 3 months. What you fish for is your choice. I really only fish for pre-spawn fish during the short period that exists from the time they decide where they will spawn until they actually start spawning. Once the spawn starts, I fish for those fish already on the beds.
For the short period of pre-spawn that I do fish, spinnerbaits, chatterbaits, rattle traps, square billed crankbaits, and jigs are the ticket. I cover lots of water and work the shallows near the first drop. When the water warms to around 60 and they start hitting the crankbaits good, it is only a short time until the big sows are on the beds.
Since the spawn is my specialty, I recommend the warm water lakes to my clients until they are on the beds at Fork. I guide on Lake Monticello and Lake Welsh from November through early March and recommend those lakes for those of you who would rather fish for spawning bass than those fish still on a winter pattern. These lakes have warm water in the winter, so you can usually catch fish even in the worst conditions. But I recommend Lake Fork to anyone in search of the giant.