With the nation’s spring weather out of kilter due to the brutal winter, it’s natural to assume that seasonal patterns will develop later because of colder water temperatures.
However, water temperatures don’t dictate everything. Don’t get me wrong – water conditions do provide a catalyst in spring movements, but length of the day plays a bigger role than anglers realize.
It’s similar to how the length of day affects the deer’s habits during the fall and the mating season. In other words, the bass know it’s time to move shallow before the water warms up.
Weather certainly is a factor, but the thing to remember is that, if your lake is running behind this year, you still should check out spring patterns.
The bass may not be on the banks or locked on beds, but they will be very close and ready for that warming and stable weather.
Early in my career, I fished a tournament at Sam Rayburn, Texas, during mid-March. The first day of the tournament, the lake was flooded and the water temperature was still in the low 50s.
The fish weren’t actively spawning but they were certainly in those areas and ready to do it. I caught a 31-pound-plus bag on a floating worm that day by fishing it around flooded trees. It was obvious that spawning was 100 percent on their minds. Because of those water temperatures, most of the field was fishing the inside edge of the grassline looking for prespawn fish that they thought were starting to move up. What they didn’t realize is those fish had already moved.
I’ve seen that many times where the time of year and length of day has moved fish to locations where you wouldn’t dream that they would be given the cold conditions.
It’s something that northern anglers should keep in mind on those lakes that have been iced in longer than normal. I’m not saying the bass will be spawning the day the ice leaves, but the fish may move up faster than normal.
Of course, the moon phase is another huge factor, but if the weather is stable, don’t be surprised if you see bass spawning with water temps in the upper 40s. I’ve seen it.
Spring also brings a lot of fronts, so those fish will move in and out with each weather change. For example, I remember catching a bass off a bed one day and, even though I released her, I never saw her back on there for a week or more. Then, one day two weeks later, there was the same fish sitting on that bed!
Spawning bass are sensitive to rising and falling water, water clarity changes and cold fronts. When you have crazy weather patterns in the spring, it’s not uncommon for a bass to move in, drop some eggs, move out and come back later to finish her spawning ritual when conditions improve.
The point to all of this is you have to keep an open mind in the spring and look at a lot of different things. It also can vary from lake to lake, so there is no “rule book” on how bass react this time of year.
So, check a variety of locations and remember: It’s all about the attitude!