Catching a break from the cold

Published 12:01am Sunday, February 16, 2014

Fishermen and ladies have not so patiently waited for warmer water.

Like I mentioned many times in my columns and on the radio this winter; I had to go back 28 to 30 years of columns and radio scripts to find a winter as brutal as this one has been and continues to be.

This weekend was shaping up to be a bit better until a small front passed Friday night leaving us with a bright blue sky, high barometric pressure and a northwest wind on Saturday. While that is far from perfect conditions, it is a lot better than what we have had since December of last year.

The high Saturday was supposed to be around 60 degrees, so that is a lot better air temperature than we have fished in a long time.

I am on the Saline/Larto Complex right now about an hour’s drive from Natchez. It is Saturday in the early morning as I write, so it is a bit difficult to relay info that has yet to happen. And by the time it happens, this will be in print and today (yesterday) will be history.

This complex is unique. On the east side of the complex, we have Larto Lake that I would guess to be nearly 1,500 acres. On the west side, 17 miles away by bayous, we have Saline Lake and on the north end of the complex we have Shad Lake.

Larto Lake is located about 25 miles south of Jonesville. Saline Lake is close to Deville, La. We launched on Larto recently to fish a local bass club tournament.

Larto Lake’s shoreline is lined in cypress trees and buttonwoods with some laydowns (fallen trees). Had the water temperature been in the upper 50s, it would have probably took a five bass tournament limit weighing 20 pounds or so to win. Who knows, it may take 20 pounds to win.

The female bass are loaded with roe and body fat, but I seriously doubt the big bass will make the move to the shallow water spawning flats in search of suitable nesting areas.

Water temperatures are probably still below 50 degrees. We need water temperatures from 57 to 60 to really get the bass moving toward thin water. There are several docks on Larto that might hold a fish or three, but the visible cover is just a small part of what lies beneath the surface of Larto and Saline Lakes.

This is the white perch’s “go to” lake during the cooler months. Local property owners sink brush piles in open water out in the middle of the lakes in 12 to 25 feet of water. That is where the majority of bass should be staging and waiting on warmer water temps.

In bass fishing, there are always the exceptions to what you read in the books. Bass fishing can be as complex and difficult as you want it to be and it can be simple. Many anglers tend to over analyze the conditions and fail to put together a pattern. The bass angler that says he or she catching the fish all the time will grow a nose longer than Pinocchio’s.

That is what is neat about bass tournaments. Anyone can say they had a great day and caught this and that when pleasure fishing, but when in a tournament, you have to present your catch, your proof, which has left many fishermen and ladies humbled.

There is no doubt there will always be fish in the shallows regardless of conditions and there will be fish shallow this weekend. The big plus we have for us Saturday and today despite the cold water, is some bass are so full of eggs they have to move up before they lay their eggs. The bad deal is those eggs will not hatch in cold water, but Mother Nature works her magic.

Not all fish move up at the same time. Depending on the conditions, we could have a prolonged spawn that could last two months or two weeks.

For decades, I have answered hundreds of questions every day of the week about fishing patterns. When asked the inevitable question, “When is the best time to go fishing?” My reply is always the same. “The best time to go fishing is when you can.” Good luck to all! Good things are about to happen in the water world in the near future.