Don’t wait too long


Bassmaster Marshal

This is about the time many anglers start thinking about fishing again. The problem is all they do is think about it while they wait for the warm winds and rains of April. That’s too bad, because if you can handle a little cold weather, now is a great time to get started fishing. 

Over the years I’ve noticed a trend in just about all parts of our country. When the water temperature creeps above 40 degrees, and especially if it goes to 45 degrees, and a warm spell hangs around for a few days many of the bass that have been holding deep will move shallow. Most of them are feeding and can be caught with almost any lure short of a topwater plug.

I’m not talking about really skinny water here. Anything that looks good and that’s 6 feet or less in depth is going to produce if the other conditions are right.  

What happens is that they feed for a couple of weeks, more or less, and then shut down or go away. I don’t know which it is because it’s hard to find them in the shallows unless they’re biting. This shutdown will last until they’re ready to start building nests or move onto them. 

In simple terms there’s a window when the bite is good very early in the year. Call it late winter or early spring. It makes no difference to me.  

The only explanation I have for this is that they have been so cold for so long that they just go crazy when they feel a little warmth. And a little warmth is all it takes. A warm up from 38 degrees into the range I’ve mentioned will trigger the movement and the bite. I know they’re coldblooded and supposedly don’t feel cold but…  

Maybe the best example of what I’m talking about is what I experienced at the 2013 Bassmaster Classic at Grand Lake O’ the Cherokees out in Tulsa, Okla. During practice I was killing them. I had several places marked where I was catching bass between 3 pounds and 6 pounds. That’s a winning bag. I was on top of the world. 

The problem was that after four days of practice the bite totally disappeared. The only thing I can figure is that I hit the backside of the window and then was forced to fish the actual Classic after lockjaw set into my bass.

That’s not a story I like to tell — I finished 18th — but it does illustrate my point. It’s on. It’s off. Then it’s on again.

What’s really important about this thing that happens, for this column anyway, is that I don’t know if I’ve ever fished anywhere in our country where it didn’t happen other than places that don’t have any real winter. That means it’ll happen in your local lake. That’s almost for sure. 

Here’s the thing: It’s only cold when you’re not catching fish. Don’t believe me? Try it.