Rainfall causes problems

Published 12:40 am Sunday, March 29, 2009

It is said by many that March is the very best month to catch fish.

I would have to argue with that.

March can be good if the weather remains stable for a week or so. But when the weather gets bad, so will the fishing.

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In March, water temperatures warm, and the fish go shallow to feed and search for a suitable spawning site.

As long as the weather remains somewhat stable, the fish are quite easy to locate and catch.

The majority of game fish will be holding in shallow water, but when a front comes through you can spend hours casting and not catching.

That’s the exact conditions we faced this past weekend.

By midweek, heavy rains raised the water levels on area lakes. Now the areas that were holding some really nice fish are two to three feet deeper.

Some fish will stay in the same area, some will go shallow and some will back off to deep cover.

If there is not a drastic change in water temperature, the active fish will move into the newly flooded areas searching for food. If the water temperatures drop more than five degrees, the fish may move to deeper water and go into an unactive mode.

The fish that move up with the rising water are the most active and are usually easier to catch.

For bass in thin, rising water, you’ll have to cover a lot of water. A good spinnerbait fisherman can pick off the fish from the tangle of newly flooded bushes and trees.

Many years ago, we were fishing a tournament in north Louisiana on a big reservoir just after a heavy rain. Water levels jumped fast, rising four to five feet overnight, and the fish scattered.

We found the active fish holding in some really strange places. One came from a swing set in someone’s flooded backyard. The next keeper was holding under a picnic table.

By day’s end we had located a good concentration of fat keeper bass holding along the hedges in someone’s backyard.

We went from yard to yard, pitching jigs to hedge rows and catching fish. It was a strange pattern for sure, but it worked.

Water clarity can be a problem in March as well.

The general rule is the muddier the water, the shallower the fish will be, and these fish will be holding extremely tight to cover. That’s when a good jig and plastic lure fisherman can pitch and flip his or her way to a good day.

The water levels will settle down soon, and things will get back to normal.

Until then, just think shallow and you will catch fish.

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