Spring in full gear; nice catches await

Published 12:03 am Sunday, April 12, 2015

At last, spring is in full swing.

The lakes are still a bit cool at 67- to 70-degrees for swimming and water sports, but it won’t be long before the water temperature hits the upper 70s to low 80s, and the lakes will be packed.

Some nice catches of white perch continue to come from the Black River and Horseshoe Lake Complex, Turkey Creek and a few other public waters. For three weekends, I fished hard for nothing but big bass. There has not been a single bass caught weighing in over seven pounds from the Concordia Parish oxbows lakes that I know of this year. That is a first, but I am not giving up.

The spawn was so messed up, and a month later than normal, so we could still see a few big female bass move shallow to lay their eggs. Catching small male bass has not been a problem. My big brother and I just had a conversation concerning catching the male bass off the beds. It is not a good thing at all.

When we set the hook on these small males, we are seeing what looks like small minnows swimming away from the commotion. Those are not small minnows. Look close. Those little minnows are tiny bass fry. The little male bass are the guardians of the beds. Once the female bass lays her eggs, she leaves. The male stays and watches over the eggs and small fry. As soon as the male bass is removed from a bed, the bream, gar and other fish move in and eat the fry.

Turtles will eat the bass and bream eggs. A male bass will stay with a nest until the eggs hatch and the fry are large enough to swim away. The male bass circle the nest and guard the fry which makes the males very easy to catch on artificial lures because they cannot feed as normal. We did have somewhat of a successful spawn this year. That is a good thing, but we need to release those males as soon as they are caught or the entire bed will be destroyed. We certainly need several years of good spawn to get the bass population back up. The bass will soon retaliate when the bream start bedding up. They will eat the bream from the beds. That is nature’s way of keeping the fish population in balance but catching the male bass off a nest and keeping it or transporting them miles away to be weighed in during a tournament is not nature.

There is not much we can do about that in tournaments. But when pleasure fishing we can help the bass population but releasing these small male fish so they can continue to guard the beds. The bass fishermen I spoke with are seeing a lot of bass fry on Black River Lake, and if the water clarity was better, I am sure you could see them on Horseshoe Lake as well. The same thing is going on at Lakes Concordia, St. John and Bruin. I did not see a lot of small fry on Concordia but I did see some they had left the beds that were still swimming in tight schools. That is a good sign. I found a few four- to five-pound female bass on beds and some were still cruising in the shallows.

The bass and perch spawn is still on but winding down fast. The bream are just now starting to make beds. The catfish will spawn toward the end of this month. It seems like a five-pound bass is now considered a big catch in our lakes when it used to be ten pounds or more in lakes with Florida bass and six to seven pounds on lakes that don’t have any Florida bass. Maybe things will change over the next four or five years. There is some coontail moss growing in Lake Concordia, and that is what we need to insure the survival of the small bass and bream.

The more aquatic vegetation we have, the more fish we will have in our lakes.

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