After Ice Out!
not be lulled into staying home by those who tell you
"It is not time yet".
It is. Everywhere. By early
March, another season of bass fishing has already started in most
sections of the country, especially everywhere below the
Mason-Dixon Line, in the West, Southwest and lower parts of the
Even in the Northeast, Northwest or upper Midwest...IT IS
TIME. I have already taken a good number of bass, both black and
brown, from both boat and bank in several Northeastern states.
Well, almost everywhere. No,
maybe not on your favorite body of water, but I would be
surprised if you tell me you cannot get into your car this
weekend and drive an hour or two into low-lying valleys or to a
man-made environment (or section thereof) which has a thermal
effect to raise the water temperature a bit.
Look for warmer water, which at
this time of year includes any kind of discharges from factories,
power stations or other man-made facilities. Look for small,
shallow ponds or lakes in the bottoms of valleys or at lower
altitudes. In the case of smallies, look for small, very deep
lakes that have black rock rims. These areas spring to life
first, especially if there are suspended particles in the water!
Do you know of any small waters like this?
them now in the mid-afternoon. Look for shallow, black
mud-bottomed "fingers" or "mini-coves" that
have full sun on the water since noon. Look for trees and brush
that form a barricade from the wind on three sides. Black shale
or emergent rocks. Often leaves and surface debris will pool in
these quiet little dead end eddies. All these factors, black
bottom, dark rocks, wind breaks, dark surface debris draw heat
into the water. Bass will collect in numbers in these areas now.
It's a time of renewal. The bass
are there to revitalize their energy in the sun - not to feed -
but you can zip a tube bait past them as quickly as you can, and
they will instinctively snap at it! If your favorite color isn't
working, try white. Retrieve too slowly, and you may not find
them very interested. The water may only be one foot deep, and
you can see large numbers of mid-sized bass laying from one side
of the cove to the other, all facing the shoreline. Pick out one
of the a bigger bass as your target, and cast 6-8 feet beyond it.
I use a pointy-nosed jig with the hook eye right on the tip of
the nose for its weed-shedding properties. Glue the tube on it.
Start reeling before the tube even hits the water. Steer it away
from surface debris and right in front of your chosen target's
mouth. Done properly, your target will instinctively open its
mouth and SNAP down on your tube jig! However, your streaking
tube may also create a competitive reaction among several smaller
bass that will chase and snap at it too!
After a few casts, you may blow the school
out of there, so you must make each cast count.
However, return in fifteen minutes and enough bass will have
recollected in the heat pool in order to give you another 2-3
casts at them. While you wait for them to recollect, fish any
shallow dead reed, rock or wood cover out of the wind and in full
sun a short distance outside the "mouth" of the
mini-cove with a big jig 'n pig.
Big solitary egg-laden females will be
laying there, ripening their swollen bellies in the
sun. Your best weapon here is your own stealth. The female will
hate to have your big jig 'n pig intruding in her chosen space
and she will attempt to kill it if you do not startle her out of
her somnambulant state by your presence.
After you alternately fish 2-3 times between the mini-cove and
outside cover, most of the bass will be quite alerted to your
presence and will have disappeared from view. So go find another
untapped heat sink further down the bank and repeat the process.
Hope it helps you break the ice on a brand new season.