Do Big Bass Spawn Early?

  On a more positive note, fishing is getting great.

As I left the campground at Lakepoint State Park a week ago last Monday, I stopped to talk to a fisherman loading his crappie trolling boat to go out. He was rigged with over a dozen rod holders for spider rigging.    He said he had caught a few crappie the week before and it got much better over the weekend as the water level stabilized and the temperature warmed from the sun. And it cleared up a good bit.  He expected to do even better that afternoon.   

It was interesting that every fisherman I talked with had caught a lot of catfish.  The high muddy water did not bother them. I caught an eight-pound blue cat on a shaky head worm on Thursday and several club members said they caught big cats fishing for bass.   

Bass fishing was getting better every day, too.  When I got home many of my “fazebook” friends were posting pictures of big bass they were catching.  Bass were moving into the spawning areas and feeding.  With schools out and many off work, a lot of folks are “Social Distancing” themselves by getting on the water and catching fish.   

Now through mid-May is a great time to get on the water, anywhere from ponds and rivers to lakes and creeks. All species are feeding, and bass will start hitting topwater baits any day now. Most agree that is the most exciting way to catch them.     

A few years ago I learned how early bass would hit topwater baits, earlier than I used to think.  In an early March tournament, my partner and I had fished for about an hour without a bite.  My front depthfinder did not show the water temperature.  I ask him what temperature the back one showed.    When he said “62” I said that was warm enough for topwater and picked up a popper. On my first cast to a dock with it, a five-pounder hit it.  It was big fish for the tournament.   

The most interesting thing about that fish was it looked like a female that had already spawned. That seems early, but I am slowly learning bass, especially the bigger ones, want to spawn as early as possible.   

That is a survival thing.  Many baitfish like shad spawn as soon as the water gets to 65 degrees, usually in early April.  If bass spawn a few weeks earlier, their fry are big enough to eat the shad fry when they hatch, giving them a growth edge over the bass fry hatched in April fish that are too small to eat them. It also helps that the first week or two of their life the bass fry are not competing with the baby shad for plankton, the food both species eat after hatching. If a bass is stunted the first year of its life, it never grows to its potential.Nature is amazing!