provided by John E. Phillips
Jordan Lee of Cullman, Alabama, won two Bassmaster Classics back to back in 2017 and 2018. For the last three years, he’s been a part of Major League Fishing and also has fished in FLW tournaments as well as regional and local bass tournaments. Lee was the 2020 Points Champion for MLF. Although we all look forward to the spring when bass start moving up from deep water to shallow water, this time of the year, in February and March particularly, can be the most frustrating and difficult season for catching bass. Depending on where you live and the conditions of the weather and water, you may be fishing for pre-spawn bass, spawning bass or post-spawn bass. You can be fishing too for bass that are in all three stages of spawning on the same lake. Mossy Oak asked Lee, one of the nation’s top bass-fishing anglers, how to sort out these problems during this time of the year. Jordan Lee not only catches bass but catches some of the biggest bass in the lakes he fishes.
The most important key to successfully fishing for bass during this time of the year is to understand that not all the bass move from deep water to shallow water at the same time. Typically, there will be different phases of bass moving from the deep water throughout the early to late spring, depending on where you’re fishing. In most lakes, bass will spawn for about two months between the last two weeks of February to the first two weeks of March. In south Texas, those fish will start moving up in February and in north Alabama where I live, the bass may not start spawning until mid-March or late March when the water temperature warms-up.
On my depth finder screen, the temperature gauge is always on so I know the water temperature and where I need to fish. The water temperature will tell me whether the bass have gone to the bank to spawn, or if they’re still holding just offshore, waiting on the water temperature to get right before they move to shallow water. If the water temperature is less than 55 degrees, then I’m pretty sure that most of the females are in pre-spawn mode. If the weather pattern is stable, and the water temperature is in the high 50s, the bass usually will start moving into shallow water with spawning on their minds. The bass will continue to spawn until the water temperature reaches 70 degrees or more most of the time.
In April, anglers may encounter spawning temperatures all the way until mid-May in Alabama, for instance. However, in south Texas, the bass only may spawn until mid-April. If you’re fishing in Florida, the spawn may be over in mid-March or early April, so a temperature gauge tells you a lot about when the bass will be in pre-spawn, spawn, or post-spawn modes. That’s the reason, regardless of what lake I’m fishing on, that my temperature gauge on my depth finder is second in importance to where and what I fish with only to the weatherman. I rely heavily on these two tools to tell me where the bass are during this time of year and why they should be there.
To learn more about Jordan Lee, check out his series “Just Fishing” on Mossy Oak GO.