Don’t wait too long, part 1

For the next two or three weeks we’re going to take a close look at some of the factors that affect bass movements in late winter and early spring. I’ll try to keep them as organized as possible, but that’s not always going to be possible. It’s a complicated subject.

Before I go any further, however, I want to make it clear that what I say is based on what I see and observe as a serious angler and hunter. I’m not a biologist. Some of you may disagree with my thoughts and ideas.

The reason I’m writing this right now is because one of the things I see all the time from anglers is that they wait too long to make adjustments to seasonal patterns and weather conditions. I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to say that 75 percent of anglers miss 50 percent of the spawn because they don’t get out in front of it. It’s my guess that an even higher percentage fish behind weather changes.

You might find some bedding bass during the full moon in April, but most of the bass, and especially the bigger ones, have already spawned and are in their postspawn patterns.

This year could be the exception that teaches us a lot about what bass do. We really haven’t had a winter yet. Christmas came and went without the usual drop in temperature. Most of us have experienced a never-ending fall. I know there are exceptions to what I’m saying, but it’s true for most of the country.

One of my friends has been fishing in the Great Lakes area. As recently as a couple of weeks ago, he was catching bass in water that was less than 10 feet deep, in some cases less than 5 feet. What that will do to the fish is unknown.

It could be that they’ll move into their winter patterns as (or if) it gets cold in January and February. That might delay the spawn this year. But, it could also do just the opposite. It might be that they start moving shallow right now and spawn as the water temperature drops and the moon goes full on Jan. 23.

Our group (Bassmaster Elite Series anglers) won’t get fooled either way. If one fish moves up to spawn earlier than normal, our guys will find her. I can say the same thing if they don’t start moving until March or April. Our guys will find their winter homes.

Another thought I have about all this is our fixation with water temperature. It’s important, but I think it’s important in ways we don’t always understand.

For one thing, early morning temperature is more important than anything else. I don’t care much if it warms up a few degrees in the afternoon. That’ll help activate a late day bite, but it won’t do much for the spawn or for overall fish activity. Temperature changes from one early morning to the next are what give you a true measure of what’s happening.

Moon phases are something that’s misunderstood, too. A full moon is the most powerful by far, but it affects the bite and activity in ways that are different than most anglers realize. The same can be said about the new moon. We’ll talk more about that next week.

Tip: The new moon will happen on the Jan. 9. That’s Saturday. If you’re out fishing, look around.