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Chris

The Spring approach

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The Spring approach

Early spring after ice out the first thing I look for is the warmest part of the lake. This time of the year a few degree's can make a huge difference. You need to find shallow areas that are warmer than the rest of the shallow areas in the lake. When you find the right area all things must come together algae starts the life cycle then the shad move up and the bass follow soon after. This is the last feed before the bass turn their attention to spawning areas. Bass tend to move up in waves the first bass to move up are usually the larger fish. The first thing to look for is staging areas that lead to shallow spawning flats. A staging area can be a point or any dock in the mouth of a cove. If you are fishing a creek channel you want to try to find where the channel swings close to the flat. Any sharp drop that sits next to a spawning can be a place where bass will load up. Deep water is relative to the surrounding water in a given area. This means if the surrounding area is 3 ft deep and you find a small depression right next to it that is 3 1/2 or 4 ft deeper that could be a staging area. This time of the year you will get a lot of cold fronts that will blow in and a bass will escape to deeper water. Areas that the deeper water is close to the flat means less of an area you need to fish to locate them even when conditions change. This time of the year (early spring) the bass tend to gravitate to hard structure and cover. Points that are sharp tend to hold more fish than long tapering points but this changes the closer you get to the spawn. My number one places I look for and fish if available is beaver huts, docks that are in the mouth of coves that are close to a drop, rock banks that have a lot of sun all day, Docks that get a lot of sun that are wood, points that have stumps, places that are protected by wind because they heat up faster. If I am fishing a small pond or from shore the first tip off that tells you that the bass have moved up is life close to the shore. You may not see any bass at all so don't get discouraged. The clue is bluegills of any size and minnows. You will go to the lake one weekend and see nothing no life at all then come Monday all at once the temp just clicks and you see life minnows, bluegills they just appear. You might not load the boat but you will catch a bass within the time frame of the first sign of life and within the next few days. If I am shore fishing I start with a red rattle trap every year 1/4 oz. I try to fish from a foot out away from shore to about 5 ft out on small ponds. I beef up my line to 17 lb mono because it will allow me to slow down that trap and slow roll it without hanging up. I want to use lures that look like bluegills. If I am fishing larger water I throw a 1/4 oz jig with a large trailer like a 3 x by strike king and I thread it on to change the profile of the jig. The 3 x trailer floats and will slow it down a bunch along with heavy mono or braid pork trailer will do the same thing but have more fluid action in the water. The rate of fall is everything at first spring. Spinnerbaits work great this time of the year just make sure that you use a double blade combination with Colorado blades with a trailer to slow it way down. I sometimes use a short arm spinnerbait with a #4 Colorado blade with a #11 white pork trailer. I just try to slow roll the bait down any trees or hit the edges of flats. If you trim the nose of the pork so that it is tapered the pork will flop around more to give it more action also if needed you can double skirt the bait to add bulk and it also helps slow it down. Crankbait selection changes for me this time of the year. I tend to go with flat thin baits in cold early spring especially in clear water. I am trying to mimic the shad that might not have eaten their wheaties and might still be moving kinda slow. When the water temp gets a little warmer in late spring I change gears again. In spring when the water reaches the 60 degree mark bass move up shallow. This is when you dig out the fat body wood crankbaits that are more buoyant and tackle the heavy cover. This style crankbait is my number one choice because I find that it is able to get through the cover the best without hanging up. By this time you should have already gotten the spring rains and a big jump in water temp which will drive the bass to those staging areas I mentioned earlier.

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44-48 Degrees the bass will move to the first break line and start to stage but not in big numbers like one or two suspending near cover shallow but most still hanging out on the break.

48-55 Degrees the bass get a little more serious about staging this is when you start looking for staging areas or shallower drops close to the staging areas. Do not be surprized to see a fish or two usually big fish jump the gun and start to mock spawn around this time.

55-60 Degrees is when you get the big push to move up to spawn. This is when if your on the right place at the right time you can hammer fish. You might get on a staging area and catch a few off of one spot.

60-70 Degrees is when staging areas really come into play. Bass spawn in waves so you might be intercepting fish moving up out of the deep and fish moving in to spawn. After the spawn fish move back to the same areas to stage before they move out deep.

70-80 Degrees is when you hit the late spawners.

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Another great post.

Question:

I have certainly found the first cove to turn after ice out.  we had about a 3 week period after ice out when the fish moved into this cove in waves.  We would catch 5 or 6 and the bite would die but soon pick up again.  Key point is that these were all good size fish.

I noticed last year that this cove was LOADED one day with craws.  They were everywhere, right out in plain site as if they just came from hibernation and were just sitting there warming up.

Bass buffet.

I have no shad in this lake

The thing is that this cove requires a bit of travel from the deep water for the bass.  The cove is actually in another cove that is off the main lake.  The deep water is probably about 4 football fields away.  Do those bass stay in that cove till their instinct moves them to their next stage or are they commuting from the deep water for the buffet on a daily basis?

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They should stay unless something drove them out like a front.

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Think about it if that area is the first place that you see crawfish and it is loaded then it is safe to say that it is the first area to warm up. If the area has adequate spawning areas the bass will not leave until they stage after the spawn.

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Great posts Chris!

Your temp break down is real close to what I try to follow as well!

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What is "ice out"?

Ice out? Ice In is more like it up here in MO.

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Great post and great breakdown of water temps and fish stages.alot of the guys around here think the moon has something to do with spawning.Well to be exact they say the full moon triggers the spawn.I think water temps are the key factor.I mean what if the temps come up early?Are the bass going to wait on the moon?

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This may sound stupid but after they move up to shallow water how long does it take a bass start and end the whole spawning process

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Not as long as you might think. From a bass jumping on a bed and doing the mumbo then boot scooting out the door to re-coupe in the general area 3 days. From lay to hatch around a week. From the love dance to lets make a nest to doing the dirty and jetting don't know I am not a bass.

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I mean what if the temps come up early?Are the bass going to wait on the moon?

You might have a group that will move up early and mock spawn but when a cold front rolls through they will drop back to the staging areas. The full moon is when they get serious about the spawn. Temp can be prime and might be in the right range but they will not lock down till the moon is near full. (weird but true)

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Techniques I used in real situations so that you understand the real deal:

I fished a clear water lake last year and found a out of the way slough that looked good. What I found was there was a lane that the shad and bass where using as a highway to get back into this backwater area. Early season I caught them on a yo-zuri vibrating rattletrap slow rolling it down the chute. I watched all the early birds flipping to all the shore cover and never turned up anything (not that is wasn't a good pattern). What I noticed was this was the natural flow of bait into the area and the bass where staging there sucking up shad. Later that afternoon I found a old bush up against the bank and nailed "Big Momma" on a spinnerbait still moving the bait in the same direction that the shad should be coming from. This area has a lot of points and I found that if I would swim a jig down the points the bass would knock the fire out of it. This was another pattern I figured out during the day. Points are places that give a bass an obstacle to corner bait and is also a highway to shallow water/staging area. Mid spring the main pattern was a jerkbait cast beyond the point and worked down until it reached it and I would just kill it. Right after ice out I used a countdown bait (rapala shad pattern) and bounced from point to point. (Still on the point patten on a different clear lake) I caught fish in the beginning of the day on a rattletrap slow rolling it across the point. Later in day I refined my pattern and found points that where at more of a sharp drop into deep water. In one cove I just went to the back of the cove and went directly to the only point that had a sharp drop. I rigged up a senko wacky rigged and pitched it out to where I thought the point made the drop and just dead sticking it. I picked up the rod and hopped it then played the waiting game. This produced one over 5lbs in the back of another cove I found a point but this time I had enough running room to run a crankbait and hit the prime depth that the fish where holding. I was using a DT6 shad color and ran it down the point. About my 5th cast and nailed a pig 8th cast found her friend.  The key was that I had enough room to get the bait down and I was cranking slow and positioning the bait perfect to put it parallel to the edge of the point. Clear lake same bait same time of the year. I found a small flat that was at the mouth of a chute I caught my fish right on the break. I had to reel it down until I got it where I thought the break was and just kill it and twitch it. When I started reeling it again they would nail it. Dirty water cold front early spring. I knew it was going to be a slow day and the fish should be on but the cold front might push them off the beds. Anytime that you get a cold front during the spawn if you have good shore cover they are not going to move 50 yards to the break they will hang in the cover. I made perfect pitches into the thick cover and fished at a snails pace really working over each area. The key was silent pitches into cover and making that jig rattle without moving it far. The bigger fish where in the thickest stuff I could find that would hold heat. My big fish came off of an area that was protected by the wind and the fish was tight to a bush. Later in the day the sun came out and the fish moved to the outside of the cover and those fish where caught on a spinnerbait. Dirty water on another lake early spring I was using a wood crankbait made by JM Woodcraft and I found that the fish where tight to hard cover. This lake had tons of stumps and I found groups of fish that where right on the edge (outside edge) of the stumps. I would position my boat in the deep water and let the bait dump off the edge. The second group was on the inside edge and those fish where caught when the bait came from the shallow water and entered the patch of stumps. Rock banks a vertical jig produced the key was working it slow and slightly shaking it in place to make it vibrate. On the shallow rock the main key was the slow fall most of the bites came on the fall. Carolina rig can be a big producer also so don't rule it out.

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If you keep track of a lake, and notice a certain spot thaws out first, does that generally mean that should be the warmest part of the lake, and a good spot to target?

Yes, not only this, but remember sun position starts to change as we get closer to D.S.T (for those who observe it.) The sun dictates a huge role because it's where warmer temp's are starting to show, and the baitfish, the plants, the crawdads (if you have them etc) all rely on the temp difference.

Find the part of the lake that's 1 or 2 degrees difference, then try and find the MOST immediate deep water access that is close to this warmer area. Fish that deeper area!

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That would be hard to answer because bass in Florida reacts a little different than an bass in South Carolina. Also a bass in a shallow lake don't move as far as a bass in a large lake and forage plays into movement also. But they ALLstage and spawn. In the north temp and food is why fish move to deep water. Some fish like shad can not live in extreme temps so when the food leaves so does the bass. You need to understand something guys that live around lakes with Florida stain bass. A Florida bass is its own species which is related to the northern and southern bass. They don't act the same in some instances like cold water/weather and fronts. Florida bass will shut down quick. Southern bass do find wintering holes and even though the lake don't freeze southern bass will drop deep or will make a home in thick stuff until the water warms up. A staging spot in the south might be a weed patch.

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I am going to move this up because it will answer some of the post cropping up enjoy :)

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