A feeling of spring this weekend

Published 12:01am Sunday, March 17, 2013

The bull frogs have yet to wake up, which is a sure sign of spring, but there is a feeling of spring in the air this weekend.

Boats where everywhere Saturday morning. I rigged eight rod and reels and packed my travel bag to go compete in the Concordia Parish Academy Gators Benefit Bass tournament out of Spokane Landing on Lake St. John. By the time you read this, the winners will be determined and this event will be history.

Judging from the phone calls we received at Eddie’s Marine, we should have a good turnout. We are not the host, but I am bringing the scales and other weigh-in supplies to help where I can. I would like to see this one become an annual event.

All signs, all conditions point to what may be a crazy day on the water. By crazy, I mean catching fish, not just casting. This week started out with nighttime lows in the upper 30s and ended Saturday morning with lows in the upper 50s. Daytime highs in the upper 70s should spur a lot of bass-spawning activity.

This year continues to be a strange one. Water temperatures have flip flopped from 52 to 60 degrees, so many times the fish and the people that chase them don’t know which way to go. The only consistent thing going on during the cold fronts and the 24 inches of rain we had so far this year is the small private lakes and barrow pits along the Mississippi River. Those are what I call “dumb bass,” and dumb bass are the best kind of fish. However, we are not so fortunate to be able to fish tournaments on dumb bass waters, so we have to chase the hook educated “smart bass” in the public lakes.

There is a big difference in fishing small waters with very little pressure from others and the public lakes with 50 to 60 and even 70 boats trying to do the same thing you are trying to do, which is catch bass. These fish are smart, and it is hard work, but there’s something about the competitive nature of a bass tournament angler that keeps them coming back time and time again.

There are a couple things I never do. I never fish against anyone when competing. I keep an open mind and fish against the fish. The other thing is even though the tournament limit is five bass, you have to catch those five one at a time so you have to catch one before you can catch numbers two, three, four and five. If you are so fortunate to catch five and still have time left in the eight hours of fishing the tournament, you get to cull. You cull when you catch number six by releasing your smallest and increasing your weight.

A day filled with culling is a good day, but had no idea what Saturday held for any of us. This is March, and March can be feast or famine with no in-between. Some bass will be spawning while others are in the pre-spawn mood and a few others in the post spawn mood.

Since our water clarity does not allow site fishing, I had much rather target pre- and post-spawning fish. When a female is on a bed doing her thing, she is not worried about eating. A single cast probably will not result in a cast. If the water clarity was good, you can sit on the spot and eventually aggravate the fish into striking out of defense.

On a good day while fishing the landlocked oxbow lakes like Concordia, St. John and Bruin, you can see about 2 feet deep. I seriously doubt you will see any fish today, but if you pay close attention, you can sight fish without actually seeing the fish. When a bream or turtle or whatever attempts to raid a bass nest of the eggs, the male and sometimes the female will chase the egg robber off, leaving a small wake on the surface. The fish will then go right back on the bed. That is when you need to make repeated cast to the same area with a variety of lures and colors to trigger a strike.

Well, I better head to Lake St. John. The wind is already blowing. That is a good thing to me. I like wind — it makes the fish more active. We start casting around 7 a.m. You can catch the results here next week or check with me on Facebook today.