Fishing shifting into high gear

Published 12:22 am Sunday, March 2, 2008

March is the month when the fish, fishermen and ladies shift into high gear.

We closed out February with an average surface water temperature of about 59 degrees. Some of the smaller lakes and the wind protected flats, coves and pockets of the larger lakes hit surface water temps as high as 62 degrees.

That was warm enough to trigger the male bass and perch to move toward thin water to begin the spawn. There’s no doubt that a few of the big females have laid their eggs but we have yet to experience that first major wave of big female white perch and bass in shallow water.

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Water temperatures flip flopped from the mid 50’s to the low 60’s throughout February but with each passing weather system the water temps slowly increased.

Lakes Concordia, St. John, Bruin, Tew Lake and most all of our land locked lakes produced some really nice bass for some while other anglers struggled to catch the fish. Lake Okhissa in Franklin County received the most attention and for good reason.

When this new reservoir opened this past November catches of 100 bass a day were common. The fish slowly grew wise to the sting of the hook and the average numbers dropped off a bit but anglers are still enjoying some outstanding fishing on Lake Okhissa.

Bass aren’t the only species the lake is producing. Reports on the bream fishing continue to be outstanding. That’s great news considering prime time for bream kicks off in April when they start spawning. Right now the bream are suspended in the thick flooded timber in depths from 10 to 20 feet.

The bream tend hold over deep water in reservoirs in late winter and move up and down the water column instead of moving into the flats and back out to deep water when a front passes. When water temps hit a steady 65 degrees the bream fishing on Okhissa will be second to none.

Much like the bass, the male bream will be the first to move up to begin building nest in preparation of the spawn. There will be a few bream nesting this month but it will be mid April before the bream spawn will be in full swing on all of the area lakes. Currently the best way to catch bream on Okhissa is to tight line crickets in the deep flooded timber or slow roll a black and yellow beetle spin through the came area.

The bass could be shallow, deep and anywhere in between. It’s that time of year when we have pre-spawn, spawning and even a few post-spawn bass to catch. For numbers of smaller bass focus your efforts on shallow water. The males are building nest and they are easy to catch on variety of lures.

Paca Craws, Zoom Lizards and Net Baby Action Cat are good lure choices when going after the thin water bass. The majority will average about 2 pounds but you always have a shot at an early spawning trophy bass anytime the water temps are near 60 degrees.

By the middle of this month the big females will be numerous in the shallow water cruising the flats looking for a suitable spawning site. The best lures to use to catch the trophy bass are jigs.

The local favorite so far this year is the Davis Paca Jig with a Paca Chunk or Paca Craw trailer. This jig will slip right through the cypress trees roots and thick cover thanks to the unique design of the jig head and heavy weed guard.

It’s time to get your batteries charged and hooks sharp and please remember to keep only what you need and release the rest.

Eddie Roberts writes a weekly fishing column for The Democrat. He can be reached at