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Bass and perch spawn should kick off

This should be the weekend the bass and perch spawn really kicks off.

I know what you’re thinking. I have been saying that for weeks. This has been one strange year concerning the area fish spawn. We have yet to see any numbers of female bass and white perch in the shallows on the public lakes.

Air temperatures topped out in the low 80’s this past week. That should spur a much-welcomed increase in shallow water fish activity. Surface water temperatures last weekend ranged from 61 to 65 degrees. That’s perfect for the spawn.

It’s March, and the fishing is supposed to be easy. The fish sure don’t know this. I expect to see water temps in the low to mid 70’s today. Normally, I would call that post-spawn with a few fish still spawning, but this year it is not happening, and no one knows why.

Yesterday, we were on Lake Bruin kicking off the first of four Top Rod Bass tournament series, the results of which will be posted next week.

A few fish in the public lakes are spawning, and a lot of fish in the small barrow pits and ponds are spawning. Of course, smaller waters warm up faster than the big lakes, and stained to muddy water warms up faster than clear water. So that’s where you will find the spawning fish early in the season.

We did predict a late spawn, so I guess we should not be surprised that the fish are not really piled up in thin water. We’re catching a few sow bass from lakes Concordia, St. John, Bruin and the Black River Lake Complex, as well as the other larger lakes in this area.

I have yet to hear of a single trophy bass being caught from those waters this year. That’s strange, too. The trophy bass, fish in the 8-plus pound range, are rare, but normally someone catches a few in late February through March.

In the 1980s through 1999, 10-pound bass were common on Lake Concordia. Not anymore. So far, I have not heard of any big fish from this area with the only exception being Okhissa Lake in Franklin County. This reservoir’s bass population is coming on fast. I look for Okhissa Lake to pump out many double digit bass in the near future.

During a normal year, the initial group of bass and white perch moves up to spawn when water temps hit and/or exceed 58 degrees for about three consecutive days. Not this year. Hopefully, the good fishing is yet to come.

It happens in March every year — we have a week or so when the bass and sac-au-lait just don’t want to eat. I believe they are more preoccupied searching for a suitable nesting area, building nests and pairing up rather than eating. This small window of non-feeding activity usually does not stay open for long. It needs to close now, and I feel sure it will.

Last Saturday, we fished a bass club tournament on the Saline/Larto Complex. Expectations were very high. We were guessing a five-bass tournament limit of 20 to 22 pounds would win and the big fish would be in the 6-pound range.

The complex has a good population of 3- to 6-pound bass, and it’s loaded with slab perch. I ran here and there hitting all the productive areas that usually produce quick limits and a few big bass. I caught next to nothing.

Now what? I knew we were due to have an “off” weekend and sure enough, last weekend was the ‘off’ weekend. I won that event with five bass weighing just shy of 14 pounds, and I won the big bass money with a high 3-pound fish. That’s just wrong for the complex, a body of water that consistently produces heavy weight limits.

The next day, we headed to Lake Bruin to fish yet another bass club tournament. Stephen Mitchell won that one with five at 15 pounds and I won the big bass money with a 5.10. It was tough. Hopefully I will have more encouraging news next week.