Largemouth bass fishing begins in the spring after warming
temperatures melt all of the ice from the lake. Because
farm ponds and other small bodies of water warm rapidly in
the spring, bass fishing on these small waters starts earlier
than it does on large lakes and reservoirs.
After a few warm spring days shallow water temperatures begin
rising and largemouth bass drift into the shallows to feed.
Many minnows and small fish look for food in that same
shallow water and become food for the larger bass. Streamer and
bucktail patterns are especially productive in the early spring
because a bass is programmed to depend on minnows for most of
his groceries, and a well-presented minnow-imitating fly is sure
to attract his attention.
The fly fisherman should work "fishy-looking" spots as thoroughly
as possible by making several casts before moving on. Because the
fishes' metabolism is slowed by cold water, bass won't move very
far for a bite to eat in spring, nor will they expend much
energy trying to capture a fast-moving lure. Fishing deliberately,
thoroughly and very slowly will produce many more strikes
than using a quick hit-and-miss, rapid retrieve system.
We recommend an 8-foot long fiberglass or graphite rod and
size 7 or 8 weight-forward floating line for cold water bass
fishing. Streamers such as the Black Ghost Bucktail,
Bugger, and Super Silver
Minnow . . .are excellent early season bass lures. We
recommend sizes 1/0 to 8 for use on largemouths, though
small ones will also take fish. Use a leader at least 7 1/2 feet
long, tapered to about 4 pounds at the tippet, and concentrate
your efforts on fishing water from 1 to 5 feet deep.
Remember, bass are in the shallows feeding on small minnows
which are there eating zooplankton and insects associated with
vegetation growing in the warming water. If you can locate a
shallow, weedy spot adjacent to a deep water dropoff, so much
the better - bass will use the deep water travel lanes to move
from one shallow spot to another.
Early season fly fishing requires accurate casting and deliberate,
slow retrieves. Casts should be made from deeper water to shallow
for several reasons. For instance, it allows the angler to fish
the deep-water side of cover which is more likely to attract fish
during certain parts of the year. It puts him in a position to
guide a hooked fish away from weeds, branches and other obstructions.
It also allows the fisherman to cast accurately to fish-holding shallow
water spots that are difficult to see or recognize from the bank.
Heavy cover, like submergent and emergent weedbeds, weedly or
brushy shorelines, and even logs, stumps and downed branches
always attract early season bass. Sometimes fishermen accurately
locate spots bass are using but fail to find fish because they
don't work the area thoroughly. The best method is to start
shallow - sometimes early season largemouths will venture into
water less than a foot deep - and work slowly and methodically
away from shore, covering every foot of potentially productive
water along the way.
An angler fishing submergent weedbeds may have success using a
wet-tip or sinking tip line that puts the streamer low in the water
where bass do much of their feeding.
Bass are usually considered to be rough-and-tumble fish, known
for their hard strikes and stubborn fights when hooked, but
several months of cold winter temperatures have a calming effect
on even the largest, most belligerent old sow bass in the lake.
~ Tom Keith
Credits: From Fly Tying and Fishing for Panfish & Bass
published by Frank Amato Publications. We greatly appreciate use permission.