Fishing Alabama’s Lakes for Big, Early Spring Season Pre Spawn Bass!
Written By Reed Montgomery / Owner of Reeds Guide Service Birmingham, Alabama (205) 663-1504 Website: www.fishingalabama.com Face book too!
It’s a known fact that Alabama’s bass feed and fatten up during the early spring season. This can be during late February here in Alabama. But the month of March is the official “pre spawn month” for most of Alabama’s lakes and most early spring season pre spawn bass. Those bass that are very hungry, on the move from deep to shallow water spawning grounds and they are constantly on the prowl for an easy-to-catch meal. However, this year during the month of February at times with sudden winter warming trends in the 70’s, it almost 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 warming trend bass in the shallows are then few, as plunging water temperatures induce these bass to almost become dormant. But still, these bass have got to eat almost daily!
Actually with the right conditions, March is still the beginning of the spring spawning season, usually found to be typically taking place all throughout the entire month of March and all of Alabama’s natural lakes and man made impoundments are affected.
It’s also the month when the smaller, pre spawn male bass and some of the lake’s bigger female bass begin their annual trek towards the lake’s shallows. To pair up and then create their newly fanned out lake bottom beds, to produce yet another year’s offspring and protect them as well. It actually comes in five stages. Then the spring spawn will peak with actual bedding taking place around the full moon in late March or late spawners can be found active and still bedding around the full moon in late April.
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. Third, its time to prepare the beds and then the female bass will lay as many as 10,000 eggs.
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 invading, unwanted intruders. This will last until the eggs hatch, and then the fifth phase of the spring spawn continues. Both male and female bass will be constantly on their guard while gallantly protecting the new born baby fry bass, until they can get out in their new underwater world all on their own.
With any degree of success, the rest of the 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. Hiding in the security of aquatic weeds and wood cover.
Then, they are all on their own in their new, watery underwater world that is full of surprises and every day challenges and it’s full of even more unknowns… like 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 their young.
IT’S ALL ACCORDING TO THE WEATHER
No matter what species of bass you’re targeting in Alabama’s impounded waterways — whether its largemouth bass, smallmouth bass or spotted bass — you should always be prepared for a challenging day of fishing, featuring what is considered either good weather or warnings of incoming fronts and often some very bad weather during these early spring season fishing trips.
These annual feeding sprees and the spring time pre spawn rituals will inevitably take place during this early spring season in March, no matter what lake you plan to fish. But dealing with various types of incoming weather is never all that predictable.
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. But that is not all an astute angler should be prepared for.
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, if they are feeding or if they are actually catchable! The weather always plays a huge role, not only during the spring season, but in the summer, fall and winter seasons as well.
Rising or falling lake levels, incoming warming trends, constant cold fronts, ever- changing water conditions and the availability (or the absence) of food for these predator bass, are just a few of the factors that keep these early spring season bass on the move.
Adjusting…just like the bass, will reap huge rewards for those anglers that study all of these elements and conditions for each pre planned 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 days’ weather conditions, will aid you tremendously in actually 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, which are very often “Big Trophy sized Bass” those bass that prefer to travel alone. Although this is the time of year when these big loner bass can be found in some very shallow water at times…and usually, when very unexpected, they can be enticed to bite your many tempting little offerings!
Or these bigger-than-average bass may be harder for some anglers to locate. Like during early spring season severe cold fronts. This is when these pre spawn female bass and typically smaller male bass are still rather dormant and they can be discovered holding along some of the deeper portions of the many, many, miles of deep water to be found on any Alabama lake.
Or on some of Alabama’s very weedy impoundments they can be buried up in some thick, shallow water cover like aquatic weeds, or mixed in with wood cover or rocks, or some bass are just resting and awaiting more ideal conditions to continue the rituals of the spring spawn.
So some searching is required on the part of the 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 predictable weather, you get various types conditions. Some good some bad. Heavy rains of several inches in a day’s time can suddenly swell some of Alabama’s lakes bringing them up several feet, far over normal, full pool lake levels. Flooding on these lakes can really spread out these bass, even though some of these bass may have originally made their homes or beds near the now, newly flooded shallows, they can still be tight to cover or just out roaming during these stained-to-off-colored water clarity conditions.
* Flooding always entices these bass to spread out during the entire water column and they can often be very hard to even find. So thoroughly fishing any type of cover or slowing way down and covering water in a much slower manner than normal with slower lure presentations, may be the ticket to even getting bites!
The lake’s in-undated shoreline, when 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!
For bass anglers hoping to go fishing during these times of flooded lakes, its best to just stay home until conditions improve. For those more persistent anglers its time to search for clearer water, near the deep water, but always early spring season holding grounds.
Or 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, old River or deeper creek ledges, shallow to deep water drop-offs, flooded humps and submerged islands, old underwater roadbeds, house foundations and even submerged cemeteries and other irregular bottom features. You may possibly find a huge school of pre spawn bass and often when they are induced to eat your offerings, much 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 is visibly dumping very cold, muddy water into the lake. Cold, muddy water and very flooded muddy water clarity conditions are the worst conditions an angler can face during the early spring season.
Warming trends during the early spring stage on into the early summer season all throughout all of Alabama, can actually start occurring any time. They can continue to just “pop up” all throughout the month of March and April and even week-long warming trends can occur at any time during these spring season months.
Warming trends taking place from the first week of early March on into late March, can trigger these “normal, pre spawn bass” to suddenly move very shallow, often when coupled with the next full moon it can be “duping” them into thinking,” it’s time to be preparing the beds! Then they may even start the process of fanning out the lake’s bottom and creating the beds.
Both male and female bass can be duped into thinking it’s 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.
But another sudden cold front can send them back to the pre spawn mode, until more ideal conditions take place.
* With warming trends you get warming waters. Each warming trend is different.
Warming trends vary. If it’s been really 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. The more food intake these bass consume means more energy exerted chasing down the day’s next meal. Which might just be that fake offering you perfectly presented!
This sudden, early spring season feeding session could continue on into sundown on any of these warm, sunny days and nights. But keep in mind this frantic feeding action in the shallows could suddenly be halted with a quick drop in the mercury, as another often unseasonably cold front then 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 slower.
On the other hand; A couple of warm days, or three-five warm days in a row — coupled with several unseasonably warm nights — can make all the difference in the world!
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 fishless days when anglers leave the lake just scratching their heads in disgust. Oh well, 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 during this spring spawning season in your quest for finding (and fooling) that,” Big Bass of a Lifetime” into biting! Hopefully it will be a day and a lasting memory that 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.
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! Not only during the entire pre spawn of March, but all throughout the spawning / bedding month of April and those hungry, post spawn bass during the month of May and often on into early summer season in June!
So always bring a camera and practice CPR catch, photo and release, so these bass can live and fight another day! Also, be courteous and kind to other boaters and anglers during these spring spawning rituals when our lakes begin to get very crowded and always be safe as well wearing your life jacket and outboard motor kill switch attached! It might just save your life!
Thanks and Good Fishin’ Reed Montgomery / Reeds Guide Service
Birmingham, Alabama Phone (205) 663-1504
“Over 40 Years Guiding for Bass and Stripers on all of Alabama’s Lakes”