So at the moment I have this picture of the Griswold family vacation to Walley World in my mind for the current state of the bass in our area...
Bass are currently making their migration from the deep wintering holes (Chicago) up to their shallow spawning areas (Walley World). As these bass are making their trip to the shallows they run into several (breakdowns) and of course they have to stop at all the (landmarks) along the way.
Most bass spend the majority of their cold winter months in or near deep water where the bait has schooled for the winter. As the photo period (day) gets longer, bass begin to start thinking about a vacation to Walley World. The other factor that plays into this migration is water temperature. As the water temperatures creep into the mid to upper 50's (which it is as we speak), coupled with longer days, the big girls start pushing towards the shallows. Just like anybody does before a trip, these big girls like to pack, and pack on the pounds they do! Right now is probably the best time of the year to catch your personal best.
Breakdowns Along the Way:
Just like any Clark Griswold vacation, there are going to be breakdowns along the trip. The breakdowns that we are talking about here are cold fronts and weather systems. Even with all the joy and excitement that Clark has as he heads for Walley World, he can't foresee the breakdowns ahead. We have had a very mild winter, but if you compare it to the year we had last year, it still has not been as hot as last year. The other factor that we have to take into account this week is the fact that we had a very harsh cold front last. The mornings were extremely cold and the highs barley reached out of the 40's. This week we have hard much warmer days, but the nights and mornings have still been cool. Just like a breakdown on vacation, a cold front will slow these bass's trip down and cause them setbacks. Bass are cold blooded so they are very temperamental about temperature. A drop in water temperature will slow them down and an increase in water temperature can make them aggressive. Your shallow water areas (especially with rock) will warm up more quickly than your deep water areas and this is what attracts those bass to the shallows. They are seeking warm water to spawn and lay their eggs.
Stopping to See the Landmarks:
Now...come on guys...you can't drive across the country and pass up places like the Grand Canyon. You have to stop and see the sights! Landmarks for bass are what we call staging areas. You can't just drive all the way from Chicago to California in one day...it will kill you. The things you want to look for as staging areas:
- Secondary Points
- Deeper Rock Piles (Deeper being relative...I'm talking 30-40' deep.)
- Deeper Brush Piles
- Ditches and Drains
Bass will use these locations as rest areas before they move into spawn. They may stay here a day or a week depending on the conditions and weather systems. The key is finding these pieces of cover and structure near spawning areas. My opinion for a place likeCherokee would be staging areas in 10-20' of water. Like I have said before...bass are like birds...they use the same contour lines and cover year after year, just as birds use the same migration routes their entire life.
Arriving at Wally World:
When the Griswold Family finally got to Wally World there was no stopping them from going in and riding the rides...and for the bass the same is true. When the bass get to the spawning areas they are going headstrong and they aren't staying long. The bucks will move in early and prepare the beds to try entice a big girl. Once the females move in and lay their eggs, they will hang around for a short time and then they will work their way back out along their migration route leaving the bed to the male for guarding. The spawn happens in waves with different bass moving up at different times, but the "big mamas" like to get in their early and have their pick of the seats on the roller coaster of love!
Going into Cherokee tomorrow our bass are on the move and they are pushing into the staging areas around Cherokee Lake...
For me, I am going to work my way from in to out. I will start the day as shallow as possible sense we have had warm days and tonight will be a warm night. If I don't run into any fish shallow, I will begin to move out deeper to those staging areas...looking for stopping points like deeper rock and brush.
My comfort zone is with a crankbait, so I will be combing my areas with a squarebill crakbait, a 200 series bandit, and a 300 series bandit. I will simply switch up crankbaits as I move deeper. If I begin to locate a bass at a particular depth, I will slow down and focus on a depth range. Now it is important to keep in mind that as tomorrow warms up the bass can make a move to shallower water. Don't be afraid to check shallow again later in the day.
The fun thing about this time of year is that there is a lot of different ways to catch bass, and we will probably here a lot of different stories tomorrow.
Be safe out there and enjoy every minute of it!
See you on the water,