The late winter/early spring period is known for being feast or famine. On the plus side, the bass are hungry and at their heaviest – and on the negative side, the conditions change quickly and can be downright brutal. One day you’ll feel like a hero, and the next day you’ll come of the water with your tail between your legs.
As unpredictable as early season fishing is, there are many factors you can control that will have a positive impact on your success. By eliminating some of the potential frustrations before you get on the water, you’ll almost certainly run into more early season success once you do.
Here are 7 tips for more early season success.
1. Check The Weather
Spring is notorious for rapidly changing weather, and erratic weather leads to unpredictable fishing. Prior to any trip on the water, pay close attention to the local weather to help determine a game plan for the day. If you know it’s going to be cold, plan on targeting steeper banks with jerkbaits or spoons. If there’s a warming trend in the forecast, prepare for the fish to move up shallow and feed. Water levels are also rapidly changing, so check them as well.
2. Prepare Properly
Once you’ve learned a little about what the weather is going to do, make sure your tackle, boat, and other gear are packed properly. Your box of square-bills isn’t going to help you from your garage if you are fishing a warming trend and the bass move to shallow rocks. Early season fishing requires a lot of diversity, so don’t be afraid to bring more tackle than you’re used to.
3. Stay Warm
Spring might be coming, but there are still some brutal days out there in the early part of the year. If you’re cold, you’re not going to fish as thoroughly and efficiently as you do when you’re toasty. Keep that in mind and remember to always throw a spare change of clothes in the boat – you never know when you’re going to get a little wet.
4. Be Patient
Because of the fickle nature of early season bass, fishing this time of year can be pretty boring until you locate a pocket of fish, but once you do, it can be lights out. Patience is the key to making it through those lulls – Stick with what you’re confident in, and you’ll eventually find them.
5. Find The Baitfish
Match the hatch is a good rule of thumb for all seasons, and targeting bass for early season success is no different. Across much of their range it’s going to be a steady dose of baitfish in February or March because the crawfish haven’t gotten active yet – so be on the lookout for schools of baitfish and concentrate your efforts in the locations with the most bait.
6. Have The Right Expectations
When the water’s still cold, you can have some amazing days – but day in and day out the reality is a little different. There are a lot more one or two fish days to be had than days where you break out the champagne. Keep that in mind as you prepare for your trip and set your expectations accordingly. The good news is that early season is big-fish season, so even though you may not be getting a lot of bites, the ones you do get can be some memorable ones.
7. Stay Sharp
Because of the long delays between bites and the conditions anglers encounter when fishing in the early season, it can be easy to drift off and lose focus on what you are doing. It’s important to try and fight this because when you do get a bite, you’ve got to be ready. Focus on each cast and try to imagine exactly where the fish are, and how they are reacting to your presentation to help keep your edge.