If you happen to be a serious bass angler, looking outside yesterday afternoon — and most certainly looking outside last night — should have brought a smile to your face.
Because after recent days of chilly weather and heavy rains — drought busting precipitation that saw DFW Airport record its wettest February on record — the skies were finally bright and sunny.
And as the mild temperatures of Thursday afternoon gave way to the coolness of nightfall, the March 1st full moon was quickly rising on the eastern horizon.
Combine abundant water, lengthening days of spring sunshine, increasingly mild air and water temperatures, and the current full moon cycle, and the result should be a wave of good bass fishing action this weekend as largemouths begin to transition towards the bank here in North Texas.
In fact, down south where my youngest son Will attends Stephen F. Austin State University in Nacogdoches, it’s a full bore move to the bank with a 9.5-pound lunker largemouth being caught on a bed at a nearby lake this past week.
Up here, the breeding process is just now beginning, but it should accelerate with every passing day over the next few weeks.
As that happens, keep in mind that my longtime Lake Fork fly fishing guide friend Rob Woodruff notes that a lake’s water temperature is one of the most important considerations for any angler hoping to find an early season bucketmouth bass.
“The water temperature, that’s the single most crucial thing I think in late winter or early spring,” said Woodruff, a three time finalist for the nationwide Orvis Guide of the Year Award and a full-time fly guide on Fork since 1992.
“That’s what starts everything in motion,” added the guide whose best Fork largemouth on the fly is 11.75-pounds, one of five double digit lunkers he’s landed on the fly at the East Texas big bass factory. “The full moon is the final trigger that pulls the big fish up.”
As important as the water temperature is, note that on any given area of a lake, it will also change as a day moves along.
“It’s the spring paradox for fishermen,” said Woodruff (www.flyfishingfork.com; 903-967-2665), who will be a featured seminar speaker on Saturday, March 10 (along with Lake Texoma fly guide Steve Hollensed) at the third annual TRWD Flyfest in Fort Worth (trwdflyfest.com).
“The water that is the warmest at 4 p.m. in the afternoon will be the coldest water the next day at 7 a.m.”
Why is that? Because such water is shallow and warms up quickly as the sun shines overhead.
And that same water also cools down quickly as nighttime falls and radiational cooling takes place. And that’s not to even mention the effect of cold fronts, northerly winds, and/or chilly runoff like we’ve experienced in recent weeks.
In his search for warmer water early this month, Woodruff will focus on specific target areas that allow staging fish to move up and down in the water column as the water temperatures dictate.
Such spots will include points, submerged structure, creek channels, ditches, standing timber, underwater roadbeds, fence lines, and even public and private boat ramps. In short, anything that can soak up the afternoon sun’s energy, promising water a degree or two warmer overnight and the next morning.
And with the current full moon and the coming spawn, that might be enough to set the stage for a bona fide March Madness bucketmouth bass to be caught in the region over the next few days.
In simplest terms, anglers need to look for transitional areas over the next few days — pipelines and highways in Hollensed’s vernacular — that offer bass a pathway from their winter haunts of a few weeks ago to their springtime breeding flats in the coming days and weeks.
Those will be areas that also provide thermal relief as needed while waters warm up and cool down thanks to the passage of fronts and/or rainfall.
What about as waters warm into the upper 50s and lower 60s in the next couple of weeks, something that will send spawning females to the bank?
Woodruff advises anglers to then cast to any visible, isolated, shallow cover like a lay-down log, a stick-up, a stump, a boulder, a rock pile or something else that might hold a shallow water spawning bass for even a short time as they continue on their inbound journey to the spawning flats.
Such isolated cover just off the bank can provide a quick rest stop for the bass as it goes shallow.
While giving an excited North Texas bass angler in the boat the best angling and cardiovascular workout of the year.