Still time spawn this spring

Published 12:01 am Sunday, March 1, 2015

Cold fronts continue to keep the game fish spawn at bay. Currently most of the fish in our lakes are about two weeks late from spawning.

We need a water temperature range of about 57-62 degrees for the spawn to get kicked off. A few weeks ago our lake water temperature eased up to 54 degrees,. Some male bass moved shallow to build beds (nest), and things were just starting to stir around when these cold fronts hit us.

We had two back-to-back cold fronts that really knocked the surface water temperature down big time.

Yesterday, our lakes ranged from a very cold 43 to 46 degrees. That’s about ten degrees below normal for the season. It is March now, but it certainly does not feel like it. Our lakes are not producing like it is March. That will change, and change will come quick.

Hopefully, the long distance weather forecast will change. Right now some web sites are predicting a high in the mid 70’s by Tuesday with yet another cold front heading our way that may knock the air temperature back down from 75 to 26 in three days. That is wild, and it is not good news. This is the south, and accurate weather predictions are hard to make accurate more than two or three days out.

The cold front could stay north of us, and it could pass over us. We got lucky as far as missing the ice and snow this past week. We missed it by about 35-40 miles as the crow flies. Maybe we will get lucky again. It is time to fish, and this weather is not making it easy to catch. The large mouth bass spawn should have cast off in mid-February, so those fish are very fat and full of roe.

You get a bite, and it might be from a really big fish. If we do get more cold weather, and the water temperature stays below 55, those fish can’t hold their eggs forever. Some will absorb the eggs, and some will spawn. The bad news is the eggs will not hatch in water this cold. If the first wave of spawning bass and perch is lost we still have more fish that will move in all this month and in April. Once the bass and white perch spawn is over the bream move to thin water to spawn.

The spawn is staged out like that to keep all species from moving shallow at the same time and eating each other and eating each other’s eggs, fry and fingerlings. Catfish will spawn just after the bream. There were some male bass in shallow water before the cold fronts passed, but I bet they are not there now. The male bass build nests and the females move around the spawning areas looking for the best nest. The larger fish tend to take over the best nest or beds. The sow bass does her thing and leaves. The female bass does not stay around very long. The male does. He guards the bed and stays until the eggs hatch and the fry grow large enough to swim off. The main thing he is guarding is the eggs from bream and turtles. The bream will circle a bass bed and drive the male bass crazy as he tries to keep them away. It’s a sight to see when you fish a lake with good water clarity. Many times I just troll around shallow, clear flats and watch and not fish. When the bass and white perch spawn is over the bream move in and it is payback time. The bass eat the bream while they are trying to spawn.

Hopefully, all this will take place in about two weeks. I really don’t look for this coming week to be a good one with a lot of cold rain in the forecast followed by more cold air. Officially the first day of spring is on March 20th. We still have plenty of time for this year to produce a decent spawn.

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