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Spring bass fishing - Rewards & concerns

April 25, 2004|by Bill Anderson

Outdoors sports will be busy for the next couple of months. Fishing for many of the most popular fish species will be at its springtime best. The local opportunities range from dry flies for trout to doughballs for carp.

Turkey seasons are open and there are nonhunting and fishing pursuits - such as hunting mushrooms - that will have many combing the woodlands.

In many of our rivers and lakes, the spawning season of bass is beginning. This matters because it means fish can be found in predictable places. The actual peak of the spawn in any water system is determined by several factors, such as water temperature and water clarity.

Spring rains often make for waters that are both high and dirty, but the fish will often delay spawning and wait for conditions to improve. On lakes, cooler than normal weather will cause the fish to stage near favorite spawning areas and wait for better temperatures.

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Fishing for spawning bass has always been a controversial subject. In this region, the regulations vary by state, but most states allow catch-and-return fishing for bass during the spawning periods. This allows anglers to enjoy some high-quality fishing and then return the fish to the water to continue the spawning process.

There are opponents to any fishing pressure during the spawn, but the catch-and-return approach seems to be working out fine for most areas.

Most of my smallmouth fishing this time of the year has been on the many rivers in the region. My experience has been that the spring smallmouth fishing in all of the rivers is very similar, with the biggest factors being water temperature, level and clarity. You can usually look for the bass to be found in very similar types of habitat.

One of the reasons that spawning bass need protection is that the fish are usually very aggressive in protecting their areas and they will take a variety of lures.

In most waters, you can't go wrong starting out with tube bait in a natural color. Other anglers swear by small spinnerbaits that seem to trigger bites - particularly from the more aggressive fish.

Another approach is to use a lure type, like a spinnerbait, to cover water until the bass are located and then thoroughly fish the area with tubes to maximize your chances.

My favorite lure when the bass actually move onto the spawning areas is a small topwater lure or a floater/diver. Twitching a Rapala-type lure near a spawning area usually will draw plenty of interest - particularly from the smaller male bass guarding the nest after the eggs have been deposited. The plastic jerkbaits are also a lure for this presentation.

The actual choice of fishing for bass during the spawning period is a personal one. If you do decide to give it a try, keep in mind that the fish are engaged in the process of creating the bass fishing opportunities of the future.

Play them quickly and release them to get back to the business of spawning.




Bill Anderson writes a weekly outdoors column for The Herald-Mail.

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