As I drove in the predawn hours last week on my way to the Lake Martin, I noticed my truck outside air temperature gauge was reading 35 degrees. I began to ponder the weather we've had this winter and spring all over the U.S. and thought, "When will this cold, rainy, stormy pattern end?"
About an hour into my drive the sun began to rise, and it revealed a welcome and puzzling site—the dogwoods were blooming. Not that it's unusual, but of all the flowering trees and shrubs that bloom every year, dogwoods in central Alabama typically don’t bloom until the last cold snaps are gone. It’s like they know when it’s spring. To me dogwoods instantly remind me of several important and meaningful things in my life: Easter and the resurrection of Christ, my wedding anniversary, the Masters golf tournament and spawning bass.
But there were no bass spawning that I could find on Lake Martin. I had thought the March 20th full moon might at least send a trickle of spawners to the bank. Historically, in this part of Alabama bass are spawning during the third week in March. This year, they were not.
In many parts of the Southeast, like where I live in central Alabama, we’re experiencing a later than usual spawn. Throughout this part of the country we’ve had a series of record floods and record cold temperatures. That’s one of the amazing things about bass: They seem to instinctually know not to spawn until the weather and water levels stabilize, even if the water temperature gets right. It’s like they know when to lay their eggs so the fry will have the best chance to survive.
I’ve seen bass bedding as early as late February in central Alabama. But, as I mentioned earlier, it’s almost always the third week in March when the magic begins here. Obviously, that’s not the case this year.
So I've got a prediction: Around April 5, on the new moon, fishing all over the South is about to explode! If we can get some stable weather and avoid the cold nights and flooding rains, the fish that should have already begun spawning as well as the wave that should come on this moon will flood the shallows making for some fantastic fishing. Stop No. 3 on the Elite Series schedule is April 4-7 in Greenville, S.C., at Lake Hartwell. I've been paying very close attention to the weather and water levels there. If everything comes together, as it is forecast to, next week should be an awesome week on Hartwell!