While hunting season has come to an end, the next thing to look forward to is Turkey hunting and fishing. If you are like me and live for deer and duck season, a good way to get through those post hunting season blues is to pick up the rod and reel and head out to the lake. The weather is beginning to warm up, and the fish are becoming more active.
This is the perfect opportunity to get out there and start going after largemouth bass. This article is going to talk about two different topics. First, we are going to cover a little bit of the science behind fish activity which correlates with the weather beginning to warm up. I will cover how the warming up effects both the feeding and activity levels and how understanding this can help you become a more successful fisherman.
After we work our way through fish metabolism, I am going to give a few tips and tricks for bed fishing. I know that bed fishing can be a rather controversial subject, ranking up there with the 2016 election and whether or not it is ethical to bait deer while hunting. Either way, it can be an effective tactic when used properly and can help put you on the fish when the weather begins to warm up.
As most of us are avid fishermen, we know that fishing is not easy. Often times we try to figure what the best bait or the best rod is that will guarantee success every time we go out on the water. While these are important factors to consider, we are also neglecting two of the most important things when it comes to fishing.
Water temperature and Oxygen content can have two of the biggest effects on whether we are successful or not because it can dictate the fishes feeding pattern as well as their activity level. I often confuse the air temperature and the water temperature, but for bass, we are strictly talking about the temperature of the water not the air outside the water. The bass environment is in the lake, and they will react to the temperature in the lake. So, even on those random cold days, we get in the late spring and early fall, it won't have much of an effect on the bass activity. Once the water temperature begins to change, you should expect to see a change in the fishes activity levels.
Just like most fish, bass are cold-blooded animals. This means that when the water temperature gets colder, they become less active. As those water temperatures start to increase during the spring and summer time the fish slowly become more active and they are more apt to feed with the increased temperature. Now, this doesn’t mean that you can’t catch them in the cold, it just means that they will be less likely to feed when the water temperatures are colder.
As the weather conditions become warmer the bass begin to spawn. You will see that more bass will start migrating towards shallow water because, for bass eggs to hatch, they need a lot of sunlight. So typically you will find them in less than ten feet of water until it gets too hot. So as the water temperature starts to rise the fish will begin to move back into deeper water where they can get away from the sun.
This can all change depending on the temperature, and where they find that it is cold enough to maintain their body temperature. At one point you may be finding them in 15 feet of water, and next week they can be anywhere from 25 – 30 feet. So you have to pay close attention to the temperature and try to guess where the fish will be next.
I try to stay flexible during this time of year, as the temperature is continually fluctuating there is not much that you can do other than stay flexible. Bass are fickle creatures, and with the changes in weather, you should expect the fish to react to it as well. Most bass fishermen know that bass love to stick around structures. This is for a number of reasons, first it provides them with safety, but things like docks or overgrown logs and weeds also keep the water temperature lower. The shade will act as a natural cool spot, so you will see more fish gathered around in these areas. Another thing to consider is the oxygen level in the water, as this can have just as much of an effect on bass activity than water temperature.
Fish need oxygen. It is essential to their survival, once you can pinpoint what is necessary for survival you can figure out where the fish are going to be. This isn’t a very easy task because myself and most fishermen don’t exactly have the tools or the time to travel around a lake looking for peak levels of oxygen to find fish at. Instead, I will try to look at some tips that will help put you on the fish.
First, we need to look at the science behind oxygen. Fish use tiny filaments in their gills to process the oxygen, and this gives them the energy to swim, hunt, and reproduce. So, the higher levels of dissolved oxygen, the more active the fish will be. Now it's not exactly easy to find these areas that have high levels of oxygen, but there are a few things that you can look for., First oxygen-rich areas will usually be slightly above the colder parts of the lake you are on.
So the bass will begin to congregate slightly above that colder water because it will provide them with the most oxygen. Also, another thing to look for is any disturbances in the water, maybe a dam or somewhere a creek or another body of water may pour into the lake. These areas generally are oxygen-rich because they naturally have higher levels of oxygen. Also, another great place to look for is an area that is covered in aquatic plant life. Plants will naturally produce a lot of oxygen, plus it will keep the water in that area slightly cooler, and fish will congregate around plant life for safety. With all of these tips, you should be able to locate bass all year long.
Bed fishing is one of those things that can be rather divisive. As a fisherman that is looking to catch as many fish as possible, this style of fishing allows you to get right on the spot and have consistent luck. Bed fishing is basically finding where the fishing is spawning and you start casting over the spawning ground. This name can often times be referred to as sight fishing as well. Basically, you see where the fish are, and you look to put the lure near them until a fish bites.
Some scientists believe it is bad for the fisheries, but there is a number of others that believe bed fishing has no effect on fishing. However, I know one thing for sure and that it is an effective way to catch fish, and the only trick is you have to be out on the water regularly to find spawning areas. Bass usually spawn during a small window of 7 – 10 degrees, so this makes catching them during this time particularly difficult.
Most biologists believe the optimum temperature for spawning is 68 degrees. As I talked about earlier though they can spawn in a 7 – 10-degree time frame, so you are going to want to be out there looking for early signs. As with anything though these are more guidelines than strict rules. Sometimes bass will begin spawning in temperatures as low as 55 degrees. The more you are out on the water, and the more you are looking for this kind of activity the better off you will be.
Another thing to consider is to spend time scouting as well. You shouldn’t expect to roll out onto the lake and be on fish in an instant, take the time to look and scout. Once you find a spot, there are a few things that you also need to consider. You don’t want to spook the fish, keep your distance from their spawning area.
When they see a boat approach or they are alerted by your presence, they are more likely not to hit your bait. Maintaining and good distance and casting over the area will allow you to sneak up on the fish. If they don’t know that you are there, they will be more likely to react to your lure.
Also, you want to keep your shadow away from the fish. Bass eyes are on top of their heads because their main prey comes from above. So when they feel a shadow, they become easily spooked. When you are looking to position your boat you want to make sure the shadow of the boat or your shadow is not being cast onto the bed.
While you are moving into position, you want to make sure that you are staying as quiet as possible, the last thing you want to do is to come in using the trolling motor and scare all of the fish away. This is a great time to break out the push pole and use that while maneuvering into place.
Now that we have the positioning in place we are going to want to talk about what kind of tackle you should use. The answer to this is pretty vague because it all comes down to what the fish are biting that day and that can change as quickly as the wind. So I usually try to stick with the regulars like the Texas drop rig or some drop shots.
Starting with these is a good way to start out, but you may have to break the mold and go with different baits if the ones above aren’t working. I try to keep a number lures in my tackle box, and I move from one lure to the next if they just aren’t convincing the fish to bite. You can try changing the color or even the size. It can be a frustrating process, but what about fishing isn’t a little frustrating already. Just be patient and play around and see what works and does not work.
Some other final tidbits when it comes to bed fishing, you don’t want to cast directly onto the bed. Try overshooting the bed and reeling your lure through the bed, this will help keep you from spooking the fish located on the bedding sight.
Last but not least you are going to have to be patient. As we all know some days the fishing is on like never before and other days you just can coax them into biting. Take your time and play around with different options and see the results that you might get from different lures.
This article has covered a lot of different material, and as with anything sometimes these tips can help and sometimes you have to change radically to see results. Finding the fish will come down to knowing the water temperature and trying to gauge the best oxygen levels on the lake. I like to monitor the water temperature as well as try and find areas that should have high levels of oxygen to get started. These can be two of the most overlooked aspects when it comes to fishing.
Once you get past the scientific part, you can begin to strategize for bed fishing. This is an exciting way to get onto some bass and get consistent results. The fish are going to be more active and when they are biting it can be a rewarding fishing experience. You may have to work on positioning your boat and finding the best lure. Either way, make sure you get out there this spring and do some fishing. I wish y’all the best of luck.