Staying in front of the fish is critical in the early spring. I believe that the first wave of spawning bass is the largest in the lake, and a fisherman needs to be there when they move up.
Though 60 degrees is the magic temperature for most bass, some fish will bed when the water is in the high 50s. A good example of that was seen at the FLW Tour event on Lewis Smith Lake in early March, where Brandon McMillan caught the biggest bass of the tournament – 6 pounds, 7 ounces – out of a bush in about a foot of 50-degree water. A quick look at the fish showed that its tail was rubbed raw from fanning.
To me, the key ingredients in the early spawn are sunlight, sheltered water and the right type of bottom for beds. Sunlight is more critical now than the moon phase, and the more sunlight that stays on a place during the day and warms the water, the better.
And remember, you don’t have to see bedding fish to be able to catch them. Most of the spawning fish I catch are ones that I didn’t see at first. What I try to do is visualize where a bed might be – say, an isolated stump or by a corner post on a dock – and fish it as if I was looking at the bass.
If the water is still in the 50s, I’m fishing a jig. If I’m just in an area where I think bass might be moving in, such as a cove out of the wind where the bank gradually slopes down, I’ll be throwing a crankbait, spinnerbait or ChatterBait. The main thing is that you don’t want to wait until everything is textbook-perfect for the spawn. Be out there when the fish arrive.
---- EverStart pro Randall Tharp, Gardendale, Ala.