Tis the Season: Catching Bass in the Spring-Winter Transition

There is a transition period on every body of water from season to season. Winter to spring, Spring to summer, summer to fall, and fall to winter. Each transitional period creates the need for the fishermen to alter their techniques and re-think what’s been working for them in the previous weeks season. What are causes and effects of the changes?

Winter to spring is hard on the fishermen because, well, we’re ready to get out of the house and catch some fish! The transition from winter to spring can be very frustrating as the weather often doesn’t co-operate and the fish can begin their move to spawning only to be rebuffed by sudden cold. This is the most exciting time of year because it’s truly a time when the bass of a lifetime can be caught. Keep track of the water temp and try to find the warmest water. When the average water temp is  - 60*-65* the bite should begin to pick up. Often the fish are in several different stages of pre-spawn, spawning, and post-spawn, each stage requires a unique approach by the fisherman.  A bonus is that all fish are becoming far more active and catchable.

A few tips that may help you:

  1. Know the stage the fish will be in by understanding the water temperature and their migrating habits. A water temp in to 50*-55* range will bring the females to Pre-Spawn when they suspend around standing timber or other features waiting on the males to form a nest and push her to it. The males are often the first fish we see as they cruise the shallow water.
  2. The fish will begin to tend their nests when the water is in the 65* range.  Look for nesting fish around brush, rocks, and other objects in the water. Bass tend to like something near their nest that can provide cover. If the lake is deep and no sufficient shallow water is available look in the tops of flooded trees and anywhere a nest could be built in 3’ or less of water.
  3. The post spawn is the most exciting time to fish for bass because the fish go on a feeding pattern to rebuild their energy from the spawn. This is prime top water time and a great opportunity to get a huge fish before they go deep for the summer. Use these methods to locate and understand the bass for a better chance of success.

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Lake Fork

Fishing Report from TPWD (Jul. 17)

GOOD. Water Stained; 81 degrees; 0.09 feet above pool. Bass are fairly slow in the mornings, but there is a shaky head bite with yum dingers in both sizes on timber in 5-7 feet on breaklines. Best bite is Carolina rigs offshore in 15-25 feet on humps, road beds, points, all are producing. Big worms like blue fleck, tequila sunrise and plum seem to be best 10-12 inches. Crankbaits are still good over channel catfish bends deep humps and road beds. Shad patterns and chart blue back XD 6 - XD 8 are best, Report by Marc Mitchell, Lake Fork Guide Service. Black bass are chasing topwater patterns early in the day and later in the day when it is dark. Check out the brush piles as big bass are using them to feed on crappie. Bream are excellent in the shallows on wooly buggers and small poppers. Report by Guide Alex Guthrie, Fly Fish Fork Guide Service. Lake Fork crappie fishing is in full time summer pattern. Huge numbers of black crappie are loading up at the base of trees, on main lake points and lay downs. There are still good numbers of white crappie on brush piles and in trees. Focus on areas in 14-22 feet for the most fish. The bite has been finicky when fishing for schools of fish. Minnows on very small gold Aberdeen hooks and 6-8 pound test fluorocarbon line has been the go to set up. Small hand tied jigs in natural colors are also working if you swim them over and get those fish to chase and grab. Even if you see a hundred fish in a group just catch the few more aggressive fish and move on if you want to catch numbers. Larger soft plastics should still work on bigger white crappies that are solo on timber. The catfish bite is still red hot. You can load the boat fast in roosting areas that have overnight birds in the trees. We are also seeing big numbers of catfish on main lake points in 14-28 feet around timber. If you find an area with lots of bait the catfish will be close by. Bait an area with cattle cubes or sour grain to group those fish up. Then use your pre

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