The key to catching bass is first and foremost locating them. Once you determine their location then we can get down to trying to figure out how to catch them.
There are three things to bass fishing and those three things are location, depth and speed. If you want to become a better fisherman even if it’s trying to catch bluegill or crappie or bass and that is learning their seasonal locations.
As you know fish don’t stay on the same location all year long. For instance on river lakes such as Pickwick my home lake, the water levels fluctuate as much as five to six feet over the late fall and winter months. With the water dropping this much the shallow water locations are now dry land and all the fish holding cover is out of the water. So the fish move to their winter holding areas until the water rises in the spring. On TVA controlled lakes this rise to summer levels usually on April 15th. And the drawdown is usually on November 15th each year.
Now let’s start finding were the fish are at this time of the year and we will call this pre-spawn spawn.
Pre-spawn: [Water Temperature: 45-55] This is the time when they are in the deeper cold water haunts. When the water starts to warm up to around the lower to middle fifties, they will start getting the urge to move shallow for short periods of time. They will almost never move very shallow unless the weather has been hot and sunny for several days in a row.
The fish in most parts will be holding in the main lake near the main lake channels or in the major creek channels. You can also find them on main lake points that the original river channel swings in close to. Most off the fish will not be near the bottom but usually suspended out over the channels. This is the time that the Alabama Rig it’s so good. Other lures to try now would be suspending jerkbaits, slow sinking Senko’s or lighter weight jigs. You might also try deep diving crankbaits and jigging spoons.
Spawn: [Water Temperature: 55-70] Now that the water has warmed up into the upper fifties the fish are going to be on the move towards the shallows. During this time with the weather being stable without the cold fronts coming through can be done of the best fishing of the year. You can also catch some off the largest bass of the year. They want to move shallow and if they are there they are usually feeding. This was what happened early this year when we were catching all those huge smallmouth. They had moved into shallower water and they were feeding.
Lures to try this time of the year can be vast, squarebilled crankbaits, spinnerbaits, jigs and many others work now. But the key now it’s slow and shallow. Flipping reeds, buck-brush, and even piers can be good now as well.
As the fish get ready to start the spawning process you can now start looking for beds and bedding fish. Other places to search for the fish now is in pockets off the main lake out in the creeks. I found fish here this week on a fishing trip this past Tuesday. The lure I had the best success the on was a 1/8 ounce shakeyhead with a Zoom Watermelonseed Trick worm. The bites were very light with most of them the fish simply picked the bait up and slowly moved off. I caught at least three limits doing this that day. Other lures will work as well. If the fish are not in the pockets try the secondary points and even the main lake points. Remember all the lake does not warm up at the same time and all the fish do not move shallow at the same time either. The spawn period can last a couple months and the fish usually spawn during the full moon periods.
Good luck and tight lines…..