Saturday, May 24, 2014

Mixed Bag Spawn and Post Spawn

Many of our waters across the country are going to be moving into post-spawn.  This is my absolute favorite time of the year but if you are trying to time post spawn on your waters there are a couple of things to be aware of.

First of all, on many larger bodies of water it can be hard to really nail down post-spawn because everything is all mixed up.  At any given point in time there is a mixed bag of fish in every possible phase of spawn. This was the case when I was on the Columbia River a couple of years ago, it was that way when I was on Lake MI last summer and there are a couple of reservoirs here in town that have a mixed bag spawn.  It also used to happen on Lake St. Claire in MI when I live there - but not the Detroit river for some bizarre reason.

A mixed bag spawn like that is the absolute bomb diggity.  It brings every fish in the system shallow for different reasons and you can really catch the heck out of fish as soon as you learn how to ID and ignore the hard core spawners in the mix.  For the most part you are looking for what I call the wall-flowers.  They are almost always off to the side just a little bit with the possible exception of single cruisers.
  • Single fish tailing off to the side (pre and post spawners).  
  • Single fish off to the side laid up in shallow water.  This time of year these are almost always spawned out.  Do NOT confuse these fish with sunners.  These fish are resting and very very very very very hungry.  They can be almost ridiculously aggressive at times but will almost certainly eat a well presented soft-hackle.  
  • Single slow cruisers - some of which are pre spawn and will eat, but some of which are post-spawn who are tired of resting, are still very very very hungry and have slipped into full on seek and destroy mode.  Oh my god, I love seek and destroy.  I live for seek and destroy.  
Spawned out Resting Female
Ignore the fast cruisers, they are just spawners looking for a lady.  Kinda the Tony IROCazini of the carp world.  Cruising for chicks with a silly car, gold chains, greased back hair and a little too much cologne. Also ignore any carp in a group, they are almost certainly in full spawn.  Just pretend they don't exist.  If you waste your time with these fish you will never find the wall-flowers.  

Now lets get back to the post-spawn, because that is what I really meant to write about but got side-tracked.  Post-spawn is really awesome.  It is my favorite time of year because it is almost always the most aggressive phase of carp behavior of the whole year.  

When trying to time post-spawn the first thing to be aware of is that there is a short lull after the full-on spawn.  On bodies of water with a mixed bag spawn the lull tends to be shorter (or even not exist) because some of the carp finished spawning early and they get out of the lull quicker then the rest so everything kind of blurrs together.  On bodies of water where every carp spawns at once it tends to last about a week and is shocking.  Suddenly the spawn is over and the shallows go from explosions of life to deserts almost overnight.  I am not sure if the carp stop eating all together or just move deep and out of fly-fishing access but for all intensive purposes they don't exist for fly fishermen.  It is infuriating because you never know when it will end and you really really want to know when it ends because when it does things get awesome.  It comes to mind because the reservoir I am focused on right now just went into lull.  The day before yesterday I had 6 shots at various forms of viable wall-flowers and hooked 4 fish in under an hour.  Yesterday I had zero shots at any carp in two hours.  

When the lull is over you enter post-spawn.  Not all waters have a clear post-spawn, and how long post-spawn last varies dramatically from year to year from body of water to body of water.  The longest I have seen was three weeks and on that body of water in that year everybody who knew about it crushed any and all records for how many carp they had caught in a day.  I call it the great carp bubble.  Otherwise it seems to last between three days and a couple of weeks and is by far and away the best time of the year to put up numbers.  The carp are shallow, the carp are hungry and the carp are aggresive.  Don't miss it.

Spawn Wall-Flower Tailing Mirror

7 comments:

  1. Too many fish out here, so we don't get a clear definition...we get that extended spawn and mixed bag as fish go in and out. Plus, the releases for the dam move the temps around. In other words...the entire month of may and most of June is awesome. Hah...

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    1. Yeah, it seems like that really drags everything out on the Columbia and keeps it interesting.

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  2. In my small ponds I have always found some pre and post spawn together. I agree entirely with the observation on shallow somewhat lethargic carp as post spawn and hungry. Good stuff there!

    Gregg

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    1. On allot of the smaller bodies of water around here pretty much every carp goes in and out of spawn together. Which can make things really really difficult. Between the full spawn and the lull those bodies of water can get really really hard for almost a month.

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  3. Great post McT. We've got the mixed bag going on here in SE michigan now.

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    1. MIxed bag is much much more common in MI than CO. It was one of the things that really messed me up when I moved here. So many of the waters I was fishing that first spring there was no mixed bag and it made it very difficult.

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  4. you know if you couldn't see the photo, the caption
    Spawn Wall-Flower Tailing Mirror
    would make a fine short surrealist poem.. ;-)

    excellent post thank you. I was starting to figure this out last week: got one of the single slow cruisers and walked over two laid-up ones, slow learner I guess. There is some business travel coming up, bah.

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