Is it spring?


Nice Day 2 start for Mark Menendez.
Bassmaster Marshal

Is it spring? 

That question isn’t as simple to answer as you might think. You see, fish don’t care about the calendar. They don’t have a clue about what month it is or what humans think. For them it’s all about water temperature, the angle of the sun and the length of the day.

Up along our border with Canada there’s still ice on the water. In the South spring has come and gone. Here in Kentucky where I live things are just starting to green up a little bit. Most of those differences have to do with geography and this past winter. The colder the air, and the longer it stayed that way, the longer it’ll take for the water to warm. And that’s what affects the fish.

With those things in mind I never look at the calendar when I get ready to go someplace and bass fish at this time of the year. Instead I look at the local water temperature and at the length of the day. I also try to check the angle of the sun where I’m going. This can get a little technical. There are calculators on the internet to do it. You can also use common sense.

The reason most of us care about spring is because it moves the bass shallow and towards their beds. But, here again, there’s a lot of misconceptions about that. 

It’s often said that the spawning temperature for largemouth bass is in the 58-60 range. That’s true, but it only tells a part of the story. I’ve seen them on the beds at Clear Lake in California when the water was as cold as 48 degrees. And, I’ve seen them on the beds in Lake Murray here in Kentucky at 52 degrees. 

The moon also has an effect on the spawn, but that’s a subject for another day. 

I think the reason for those cold spawning temperatures was that it was late in the season. The water was a little cold but the sun was high and there were long hours of daylight. It was spring to those fish. 

The whole movement process is a combination of factors. One factor doesn’t necessarily override the others. Fish are prehistoric creatures. They don’t think, or reason, or plan. They react to things they can’t control but that control them. 

If there’s one factor that’s more important to us as anglers than all the others, however, it’s water temperature. When it’s cold bass live slower. When it’s warm they live faster. That’s a fact none of us should ever lose sight of or forget. 

When it’s early and the water is still relatively cold fish lures without a lot of movement, things without a dozen tentacles. I typically fish a Strike King Rodent under those conditions. It does have tentacles and flappers but they’re big and don’t move all that fast. That’s exactly the k