Fishing Alabama’s Lakes for Big, Early Spring Pre Spawn Bass!
Written By Reed Montgomery / Owner of Alabama’s Oldest, Professional — Bass Fishing Only — Guide Service. “Guiding on all of Alabama’s Lakes For Over 40 Years With Reeds Guide Service!”
Located in Alabaster near Birmingham, Alabama (205) 663-1504 Website: www.fishingalabama.com
It’s a known fact Alabama’s bass feed and fatten up during the late winter / early spring period. Officially, that’s February here in Alabama. March is the pre spawn month for most of Alabama’s bass. However, this year the month of February at times with sudden warming trends in the 70’s, felt more like the month of March!
Then again at times, at least for the bass angler, the month of March can still feel like late winter. Sudden cold fronts will still display some very frigid days and cold nights, and lingering bass in the shallows are then few, as plunging water temperatures induce them to almost become dormant. But still, these bass have got to eat!
Actually with the right conditions, mid March is still the beginning of the spring season, all throughout Alabama. Especially with a full moon on Tuesday, March 12! A time for the smaller, pre spawn male bass and some of the lake’s bigger female bass to begin their annual trek towards the lake’s shallows to produce another year’s offspring. It actually comes in five stages.
First, these bass will continue feeding and putting on the needed fat reserves to make it through the actual spawning process. Second they will gather in pairs and head for the likely holding spots, near the lake’s shallow spawning grounds.
Fourth in this spawning equation; Both male and female bass will then protect the freshly laid eggs by constantly chasing away any egg-eating, bed intruders. This will last until the eggs hatch, then the fifth phase of the spring spawn continues.
With success, the rest of newborn baby bass will then hatch out. Then, whatever is left of the brood (at times only less than half of the original 10,000 eggs survive from the ravages of predators), the surviving newborn baby bass fry are protected by their parents for another 3-4 weeks.
Then they are all on their own in their new watery world…full of even more predators.
During this entire spring time spawning process both male and female bass will eat very little. From the time when they prepare their beds, to often weeks afterwards when they successfully produce another year’s offspring, they will spend every swimming moment protecting the bed and their young.
Sure, its a known fact a lot of these bigger bass will actually spawn right on a full moon in March. But conditions (like the weather), may stall the first chance of them actually bedding until another full moon appears the next month in April.
No matter what species of bass you’re targeting in Alabama’s impounded waterways, whether its large mouth bass, small mouth bass or spotted bass, you should always be prepared for any kind of, “a day of fishing,” that could feature either good weather or bad weather, during these early spring fishing trips.
These annual feeding sprees and the spring time pre spawn rituals, will inevitably take place sometime during this early spring season, no matter what lake you plan to fish. But dealing with various types of incoming weather is never all that predictable. So keep in mind, you may have missed the first wave of early pre spawners.
Anglers that fish for Alabama’s various bass species during the pre spawn period will always have a really good chance at fooling some of the year’s biggest bass into biting. Dealing with the elements is always a challenge. So being prepared for the worst, always help you appreciate the best of times!
Each week there are changes that take place on all of Alabama’s lakes that will be a determining factor on where these bass will be located. The weather always plays a huge role, not only during winter and spring, but in the summer and fall seasons as well.
But there are many other variables that can influence the decision of these big female bass, of whether to bed now or wait until conditions improve…later.
Rising or falling lake levels, incoming warming trends, constant cold fronts, ever-changing water conditions (like water clarity and water temperature), and the availability (or the absence) of food for these predator bass to consume. These, are just a few of the factors that keep these early spring, pre spawn bass on the move.
Adjusting…just like the bass, will reap huge rewards for those anglers that study all of these elements and conditions, prior to any pre planned fishing trip. Its never the same conditions on any fishing trip.
Like said, “Always take a good look at the weather” before any pre planned fishing trip! Even going back and looking at what took place — weather-wise — during the last few day’s weather conditions will aid you tremendously in predicting what to expect on your next pre planned fishing trip.
The weather plays a huge roll on where, “schools of bass” will be located as well. It can even influence loners, often those, “Big Bass” that prefer to travel alone. Big loner bass, that can be found in some very shallow water at times…and usually fooled into biting your tempting little lures, at times when its very unexpected.
So anglers should, always be ready and be on your toes…on every cast!.
These, “bigger-than-average bass” may be harder for some anglers to locate. Like during early spring’s often severe cold fronts. This is when these late winter bass are still rather dormant, holding along some of the deeper portions of the many, many, miles of deep water to be found on any Alabama lake.
So some searching is required on the part of the late-winter, early-springtime angler. Just keep in mind, to always look at the current conditions and always look at last week’s weather before planning any fishing trip!
With weather, you get conditions. Heavy rains of several inches in a day’s time can suddenly swell some of Alabama’s lakes far over normal, full pool levels. Flooding spreads out these bass, that may have originally made their homes near the now, newly flooded shallows.
The lake’s in-undated shoreline (when it is flooded several feet over normal full pool levels), can show the normal, “full pool shoreline” covered with as much as 1-10 feet of flooded water! A foot or two is not bad. But drastically flooded lakes can rise to ten feet or more!
For bass anglers hoping to go fishing during these times of drastically flooded lakes, its best to just stay home until conditions improve. For those more persistent anglers its time to search for clearer water, usually near the lower lake, near the deeper water, late winter holding grounds.
You can move far down the lake to the lower end, where better conditions such as clearer water clarity may be taking place. Perhaps then fishing deep water drop-offs, ledges, drop offs, flooded humps, submerged islands and other irregular bottom features and possibly find more cooperative bass!
*Anglers should make it a note during any flooding situation; to stay away from any major feeder creek or any incoming river, that may be dumping muddy water in the lake. Cold, muddy water, and flooded water conditions, are the worst conditions an angler can face during the spring season. Also stay away from any electric lines, wires, cables or flooded lights or outlets during times of flooding!
Warming trends during winter in Alabama can start occurring in December. They can continue to just “pop up” all throughout the months of January and February. Even week-long warming trends can occur at any time during the month of February, traditionally the coldest month in Alabama.
Warming trends taking place from early to late March, can trigger these “normal, pre spawn bass” to suddenly move shallow, starting the process of fanning out the lake’s bottom and creating the next generations beds.
Both male and female bass can be duped into thinking its time to prepare their beds for the spawn, when at times, it’s actually not. Water temperatures constantly above 60 degrees, coupled with a full moon can dupe these bass into pairing up and bedding.
* With warming trends you get warming waters. Each warming trend is different.
Warming trends vary. For instance; if it’s been real warm during the early spring, like over 70 degrees all day, the water temperatures in the shallows can rise as much as 5-10 degrees by late evening.
This sudden increase in the water temperature can induce these otherwise sluggish bass to feed heavily as their metabolism is quickly speeded up. As their day goes on, they eat more and more with each significant rise in the water temperature.
Even just a few degrees rise in the water temperature found throughout the shallows, (coupled with an available food source), will force these bass to use up a lot of otherwise conserved energy, when chasing down the day’s next meal.
* This sudden burst of energy requires these bass to eat more often. Much more often than when water temperatures are colder and they need less food, thus expanding less energy.
This sudden early spring feeding session could continue on into sundown on any of these warm, sunny days. But keep in mind this frantic feeding action in the shallows could suddenly be halted with a quick drop in the mercury, as another cold winter night approaches.
Cold nights suddenly moving in after a very warm day in the spring can lower the water temperatures in the shallows as much as 10 degrees overnight! Making morning fishing the next day often much slower.
This type of warming trend creates constantly warming water, not only in the shallows of the lake, but after as much as a week or more of warm days and nights, the water temperature will begin to warm in the lake’s deeper sections as well. This can be found to be taking place lake wide!
Fishing for pre spawn bass during the early spring season can be either feast or famine. There will be days when these bass seem to jump on every lure you present to them, loading the boat in the process. Then there will be those, “fish less days” when anglers leave the lake just scratching their heads in disgust. That’s Fishing!
But it’s a sure fact you cannot expect to catch these big, pre spawn bass if you’re sitting at home by some warm fire, relaxing in your easy chair!
Pick your days accordingly and you will greatly improve your chances (all during this spring spawning season), in your quest for finding and fooling that,” Big Bass of a Lifetime” into biting. A day you will always remember!
Some of the year’s biggest bass can still be caught during this early spring, pre spawn season. But only by a little help from you by planning your fishing trip accordingly. Even the months of April and May in Alabama can show anglers fooling some of the year’s biggest bass in some very shallow water!
All it requires is just simply being there fishing the right spot, under the right conditions, fishing with the right lure, in the right manner and presentation, at the right time! And loads of confidence!
Thanks and Good Fishin’!
Reed Montgomery / Reeds Guide Service Birmingham, Alabama Phone (205) 663-1504
Website: www.fishingalabama.com “Like Us” on Face book too! Reeds Guide Service
“Over 40 Years Guiding for Largemouth Bass, Smallmouth Bass, Spotted Bass and Some Huge, Striped Bass in all Seasons, on All of Alabama’s Lakes”