provided by John E. Phillips
Mossy Oak Fishing Pro Kevin VanDam of Kalamazoo, Michigan, is the only professional fisherman to win four Bassmaster Classics and three Major League Fishing cups. Kevin’s one of the fastest fishermen finding and catching bass in every tournament he attends. He’s a very detailed angler and a keen observer of everything around him when he’s on the water. Sights and signals that most bass fishermen completely overlook are some of the keys to VanDam’s success. Mossy Oak wanted to know how VanDam finds and catches bass during a time of the year where many lakes will contain pre-spawn, spawning and post-spawn bass.
Why do you like fishing at this time of the year, from the last two weeks of February through the first two weeks of March?
VanDam: Without question, I believe these months are the best months to not only catch a big bass, but to catch a lot of bass. The real secret is to try and follow the bass from their pre-spawn sites to their bedding areas, and then from their bedding areas out to the places where you most likely will catch them during this post-spawn. When they make their transition from the post-spawn to their summer holding pattern, I’ll search for the underwater highways that bass take to move from pre-spawn to early spawn and then the spawning flats and the routes they take to where they’ll be feeding up before moving to their summer pattern. I like to fish creek channels, underwater cliffs, ledges, humps and holes in the bottom and map the way that the fish travel to reach these different areas where you are most likely to find them at this time of the year.
If you fish four or five of the same lakes during this time of the year, and you record on your depth finder where you locate the bass, what conditions you find the bass under, and where they go during mid-February to mid-March, often you can return to those areas at the same time of the year, another year, under the same water and weather conditions, and pinpoint bass where you have the year before.
To be successful, be sure to remember the conditions I’ve mentioned earlier as to when the bass spawn, and the fact that bass spawn several times during the spawning season. So, when you first spot bass on the spawning flats, never forget that bass are still holding in pre-spawn areas and in-between places. Even though I have my favorite choice of lures that I fish, at this time of year, many different lures and techniques can and will produce bass.
This is a fun time of the year to be fishing, and if you have some ideas of technique and lures that may work, now’s the time to fish those techniques and lures. If those don’t work, try some of the suggestions I’ve made that have worked for me for many years. Remember, I’m not trying to catch the most difficult bass in the lake, but instead the biggest fish I can take in the shortest time with the least amount of casts. Therefore I want to fish in regions holding the most bass anytime I’m on the lake at this time of the year. You can catch bass in many different places on any lake, and you can catch bass on numbers of lures from mid-February to early March. However, I try to only fish the sites where I find the most bass and can catch bass the quickest with the most efficient lures I have in my tackle box.
Also, always check that long-range weather forecast because it will tell you whether the bass are coming into the spawning flats or moving away. The other key is to make sure you’re in constant contact with the temperature in the water you’re fishing. One or two degrees warmer or cooler often can make the difference in where the bass will be holding. I plan to be on the lake somewhere during these months, and these are the guidelines and the places that help me make the decision on how and where I’ll fish each day, while I’m on the water. If the conditions change while I’m fishing that day, I’ll make the changes I need to make where the bass will come to and be holding.