Weekend cold front causes local anglers to adjust their fishing patterns
Conditions were looking great for an early bass and sac-a-lait spawn.
The surface water temperatures of our area lakes along the wind protected banks, coves and in the flats were approaching 60 to 62 degrees. That is about 10 degrees above normal for the season.
We had visions of big, fat egg-laden bass and perch in our mind.
The magic degree that spurs that first wave of spawning largemouth bass and white perch to move shallow is 57.
The water temperature exceeded that for a solid week, and the fish began to move up.
I weighed in 583.49 pounds of bass during the 26th annual J.R. Roberts Memorial Tournament held last Saturday on Lake Bruin. That was an amazing total weight considering it rained 3 or 4 inches during the tournament.
Seventy-six teams showed up to fish on a very wet day. Some loaded out early and went home while others fought it out to take home part of the $8,900 we gave away.
Good fishing reports like that and more were just starting to come in. Small male bass were cruising around the shallows scoping out suitable areas to build a nest.
The female bass moved up from the depths and were staging near the shallows waiting on the males to build the nest.
Many of us had a decent pattern working by fishing shallow for numbers of smaller fish then going to deep water and mid-range depths with different lures to cull the smaller bass with larger fish.
We can wipe that slate clean now and start over.
The cold front that passed Friday night is about the worst thing that can happen when you’re on a good shallow bite in February.
It’s not so much the temperature change as the barometric pressure.
Fish feed like crazy prior to a passage of a front like we had Friday. Once the front passes and the air pressure increases, the fish tend to layup and not move much and feed very little.
Oddly enough that is one of my favorite times to fish tournaments, even though it can be challenging.
It’s all about lure presentation when faced with post frontal conditions and pre spawn fish. You have to present the lure in front of the fish and keep it there much longer than you would if the air pressure was lower.
That’s where flipping and pitching heavy bottom lures to largemouth bass will pay off. The crank bait or any lures designed to crank and wind and move fast usually do not work well when fishing behind a front.
You may pick up a few bank runners on a Rat-L-Trap but for the most part you’ll do better using bottom lures when a high pressure system sits in.
One thing for sure, the low lake level problems we’ve had for the past year are not an issue right now. The lakes are full.
The same thing happened in February and March of 2011, but the water was allowed to run out of the lakes anticipating more rain.
We never got the rain last year, and the lakes dropped to near record-low water levels.
No one can predict a drought but hopefully a lesson was learned last year, and they will hold some of this water in the lakes just in case we have another drought.
Back to fishing, this is the season to keep a close watch on your surface water temperature gauge. This front will probably drop the water temperature down to the mid- to low-50s.
All we need is three or four days of sunshine to get the water temperature back and the fishing will be great.
Eddie Roberts writes a weekly fishing column for The Democrat. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.