All about water temperature

About the author

Stephen Headrick

Stephen Headrick

Stephen Headrick is better known to the bass fishing world as the Smallmouth Guru. He lives in Celina, Tenn., and is the owner of Punisher Lures.

Over the next couple of weeks, most everything smallmouth bass do will depend upon the water temperature. But before we get into that I want to say a couple of things about jerkbaits that I didn’t say last week.

When I talked about the pause and the need for your bait to suspend perfectly, I might not have made it clear just how long I let them sit still. It’s not unusual for me to let a jerkbait sit for 10 seconds, sometimes up to 15 seconds. That’s longer than you might think. If you count one-and-two-and-three it seems like forever. Do it anyway.

The other thing I want to mention is the bite. This early it doesn’t come as a jerk or anything that feels like the smallmouth actually has it. It’s more like a wet washcloth. What I mean is that if your lure feels like it has a wet washcloth hooked to it when you move it after a pause you should set the hook. It’s a March smallmouth.

Now, let’s get on the water temperature. The weather this week was unusually warm. That means the bass have been on the move. We’re between the full moon in February, the new moon of March and the full moon on the 27th. They’ll spawn right now if they can. Follow their travel routes and pay special attention to where the smallmouth split away from the largemouth. We talked about how to do that a couple of weeks ago.

And, like I said last week, your best bet is a jerkbait. There is one exception to the jerkbait thing, however. That’s when they’re way back in the creeks after a warm rain. What happens is that a bunch of warm water pours into the lake. That turns everything on. If you’re lucky enough to be able to fish during the first 24 hour period after a rain this month, try a spinnerbait.

I like the smaller ones — something in the 1/4-ounce range is about right — and I always throw white or white and chartreuse. You’ll catch a ton of smallmouth that way, but you’ll also catch everything else in the lake. They’ll all be up, near where the creek runs into the lake, feeding. We sometimes try to guess what kind of fish we’ll catch on the next cast — crappie, bluegill, walleye, largemouth, catfish or sometimes even a drum. The bite can get that hot.

Hopefully, these last two or three columns will give you some things to try until after the big ones move off the beds late this month and early in April. (I realize that some of you are still fighting ice. If that’s the case, just push back everything I said by three or four weeks.)

Next week I want to talk about why I chase smallies instead of largemouth or spots. It’s philosophical for the most part, not based on anything you can prove or disprove scientifically. Maybe you’ll agree with what I have to say or maybe you’ll disagree. Either way, it should be fun.

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