Bass to enter pre-spawn mode soon

Published 12:00 am Sunday, February 15, 2009

It’s a busy time of year for the largemouth bass.

Just this week the bass in our area lakes and rivers entered a major transition period. During the colder months, the bass — for the most part — seek deep shelter in the form of brush, ledges and cypress tree roots.

As water temperatures slowly increase from the low to upper 50s, the bass will enter the pre-spawn mode.

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This is the best time of year to catch a trophy largemouth bass. The females are the larger of the species, and they seem to disappear until late winter and spring.

Warmer water triggers the instinct to move to the shallows in preparation of the spawn.

Water temperature are so critical that one day there are no fish in the shallow spawning flats, and the very next day groups of huge bass will be cruising the thin water looking for a meal and a suitable spawning area.

The male bass is the nest builder. It’s still a bit early for most of the males to be shallow, but you can bet some are at work right now fanning debris with their tails and body from the bottom of the lake to make a nest.

Smaller ponds, lakes and backwaters warm up much faster than the big lakes. Those smaller waters are the best bet for an early season trophy bass.

On the larger lakes, some of the deep fish that have been harassed all winter will still be holding tight to brush in heavy water.

Another group will be staging in the 6- to 12-foot level. These fish are usually very active.

The early-spawning fish will be shallow, holding in 1 to 5 feet of water. These fish have just moved up and are difficult to catch.

A movement as simple as your arm during the cast will send the bass streaking across the flats. These early spawning fish are caught by keeping a low profile in the boat and by being quiet.

This time of year, fishing for bass is much like hunting for deer. Approach the shallows as quietly as possible, keeping trolling motor use to a minimum.

Any noise from above the water will warn fish that something’s up. If this happens, your chances to catch that fish just dropped significantly.

Currently the female bass are loaded with eggs. If you catch a nice bass, take along a camera, snap a picture and turn her loose.

The largemouth bass in this area are under more fishing pressure than ever, but the good news is the majority of sportsmen now release their catch, which is a good thing.

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