° empty

Area lake temps are warming up

The wait continues. A very unusual cold winter has left many fishermen and ladies fishing and not catching.

This week casts off just right with highs in the 70’s and lows in the 50’s. The area lake’s water temperature has averaged a very cold 42 to 46 degrees for weeks on end. The bass and white perch were and still are very lethargic.

I have been chasing the area fish for over three and half decades and have never witnessed such tough winter conditions. January was not so bad. The first weekend of February was OK. It was not easy, but some nice fish were caught. Then the snow and ice hit us on top of already low water temperatures. That was not good.

I have fished in 38-degree water and caught fish, but this prolonged cold water temp has really shut the fish down. By midweek of last week, good reports began coming in via text, email and Facebook. Most of the good reports were coming from my Cajun friends in south Louisiana fishing the Atchafalaya Basin, Lakes Verret, Lac des Allemands and Catouatchie. Well imagine that.

Des Allemnads and Catouachie lakes are below New Orleans, so the waters south of us are warmer than the waters here, and the bass are on the beds down there.

That means our fish will turn on and move into the spawning flats any day now. The most important gauge in your boat this time of year is not your sonar unit reading the bottom. It is your surface water temp gauge that is built into most sonar units.

If you do not know the waters you are fishing or do not have surface temp, just head to the northwest side of the lake and take temperature readings until you find the warmest shallow water, which is usually in the wind protected coves and flats that receive the most sunshine.

It is Saturday as I write this column. I had a call early this morning from my brother who is fishing a tournament on Lake Concordia. I made the short drive to the lake, repaired his trolling motor and got him back to fishing in ten minutes.

Again, I laughed because on the way to the boat ramp, Joe Cocker was on the radio singing “With a little help from my friends.” What were the chances of that?

The lake was slick as a mirror Saturday with no wind blowing at all. The sky was overcast with very little sunshine meaning the shallows will not warm up much at all.

During these conditions, we need the wind to blow to make the fish just a bit more active. So many people believe the spawning months are the best time to fish and it can be good, but conditions change so fast with the passage of a cold front, no sun, no wind, too much wind or no clouds, this time frame can be challenging to put together a pattern that will last more than two days at the most.

Our fish, the bass and white perch, are in that transition period when they are so full of eggs they want to move up, but weather conditions keep holding them back. I saw this change occur overnight many years. On one day, there would be no fish in the spawning areas and the next day, the shallows would be loaded with fish. That day is coming soon. Just keep a watch of the weather.

All we need is three or four days of sunshine, and the fishing will improve really fast. The fish are loaded with eggs, so if you keep fish, please keep only what you need and release the rest. We certainly need a good spawn to get our fish population back to where it used to be.