Spring has sprung!
Well… spring has sprung in my head at least. At the earliest signs of melting snow and bright skies I’m ready to rip the Christmas lights down, tear off my hoodie (that’s strategically covering about 20 extra pounds of “holiday cheer” on my belly), and tie up any ‘ol rig so we can get out to the water and stick some bass!
The problem is that here in the Midwest, melting snow does not mean nice, warm water or active bass. Quite the opposite… we’ve got a ways to go, which means it’s a great time to do a bit more homework…
Prespawn in Reservoirs
During the prespawn period bass are programmed to do a few different things. Primarily though, they start to move towards shallow spawning areas. Big flats and bays. Keep in mind that not all fish will spawn at the exact same depth in a system, and it’s not uncommon for bass in certain lakes and reservoirs to spawn a bit deeper if they are larger.
This period is also prone to rain and muddy water. In some parts of the county (… like mine…) residual snow flurries and frost can still make an appearance as well.
But as that water temperature starts to scoot higher and higher, a few different unique scenarios can present themselves.
Here’s how to fish ’em.
Muddy, Rising Water + Falling Temperatures
For many anglers – both pros and hot-stick weekend warriors – this is a recipe for disaster.
Under these conditions, most would suggest you fish shallow and tight to cover. One technique is to stay within the pre-flooded shoreline. Try to work into the new shallow water areas from there.
If you are able to make a move – consider traveling to the lower end of the lake in search of clearer water. In reservoirs, water carrying sediment is usually incoming at the upper (northern) end. This means that as a general rule of thumb, water at the upper end is both shallower and dirtier than what you will find as you get closer to the dam, at the lower end. This area is usually the deepest spot in the reservoir and water is outgoing.
Temperatures can also be more stable on the lower end of the reservoir, which is not a bad thing.
Fish your prespawn, muddy water confidence baits (for a few ideas check out our suggestions in The Prespawn Period (55°F to 65°F) / Learn to Fish Reservoirs) and don’t be afraid to bump up the size in search of a big fish.
Big baits. Big confidence – always worth testing.
Muddy, Falling Water + Falling Temperatures
What happens if the water is falling – still muddy and still dropping in temperature a bit like our last example – but the water level is actually getting lower?
This scenario can present itself in reservoirs with a flood-control function. A rise in springtime water is usually followed by a drop in reservoir level. Well… guess what?
This is another recipe for disaster.
Fish tight to available cover, fish muddy water, and fish your prespawn lures slowly. Go ahead and try to fish a bit further out from banks that are about 45 degrees or so.
Whether the water is going up or going down – muddy, cold scenarios are never a great situation. They are uncomfortable. Frustrating.
About as frustrating as trying to fit my 20 extra “holiday cheer” pounds into my rain gear from last season…
But placing ourselves in uncomfortable situations is the best way to prompt growth. Progress. It’s a chance to get better when everyone else has thrown in the towel.
Let’s get better.