I like to call March the "you-pick-it" month.

What I mean by that is, literally, this is a month when you can pick the lures you want to catch bass, and you can have an awesome day in March with almost any of those lures - a Carolina-rigged lizard, a jig and craw, a pig 'n' jig, a crankbait or a spinnerbait.

The determining factor, besides your own personal preference, is water clarity.

Across South Carolina, and also in North Carolina, you're primarily fishing for staging fish, bass that are not quite moving back to spawning areas, but they've moved into shallow water.

And it's the big females that move in first. And they seem to move into areas in waves, so it's a great time to catch one of those five-fish bags that weighs 25 or 30 pounds.

I remember catching a 10 1/4-pound bass during a tournament at Lake Murray, my home lake, in mid March. I turned to my partner, Scott Martin, and I said, "Well, we've got big fish."

But we wound up third.

But that's just an example of the kind of fish that are out there this month. It's an awesome time. If I had to pick one month to go bass fishing in the Carolinas, it would be March.

Sure, the weather can be fickle. We get pretty days with temperatures in the 70s but still get those cold days when the highs are in the 50s and the lows are in the 30s. The thing about March is even though it can be cold, those fish seem to have calendars in their heads.

They know they're supposed to be moving toward the bank. So it can be cold and dreary, and you can still have exceptional days in March.

During warmer days, if you've got some stained water, you need to be throwing a spinnerbait or flipping a jig in shallow water around visible cover. During cold days, that's more of a Carolina rig and crankbait time.

What I like to do is find what I call "transition banks." These are banks that lead out of deep water and into spawning areas, but they really don't belong in either category. They can be long banks that are adjacent to spawning pockets, banks coming off the creek channel where bass can move up out of deep water into shallow water without having to travel very far.

They're places where bass can move up and stay for several weeks until all the conditions come together and send them back into spawning pockets.

As far as cover is concerned, that depends on the lake you're fishing. At lakes with some kind of vegetation, that's the best cover you can fish if you've got it.

You go to a place such as Lake Murray, where they've killed all the grass, and you key on wood - docks, laydowns or man-made brush piles, that kind of thing. And the warmer and dirtier the water is, the more shallow I'll fish.

And when you find fish, you tend to really find 'em. The quality fish will be grouped up. At other times of the year, you can find fish schooled up, but in March, is the big, prespawn females that will be together.

You can literally win a tournament in 10 minutes if you get on the right stretch of bank because the bass tend to move into those areas in waves. In the right place, you can catch five good fish in five casts in 10 minutes.

When it comes to baits, I have some preferences. For spinnerbaits, it depends on the water clarity.

I like chartreuse/white heads and gold blades in almost all cases. When you're fishing dirty water, I like to fish a combination of Colorado-type thumper blades. When the water is clearer, I fish more willow-leaf blades.

As far as a jig, I'm still partial to a Rattleback, fished with a green pumpkin Berkley chunk. I used to fish a pork chunk real early in the year, but I think the plastics' action has been developed to the point that it's just fine all the time. On a Carolina rig, I'll fish a 6-inch green pumpkin Berkley lizard.

When I fish a crankbait, I like a medium-running lure because I want to cover water anywhere from about 2- to 7- or 8-feet deep.

I throw a (Rapala) DT-10, a Deep Little N or 7A Bomber - any of those baits will catch bass. Again, in stained water, I like to fish something like a Fire Tiger color. When the water is clear, I like to fish light browns or reds - any of the traditional crawfish colors.

I don't think I can stress enough how good the fishing can be this month. If you're ever gonna stumble on a 25- or 30-pound limit, March is going to be the time.

You can bet I'll be out trying as hard as I can.



Davy Hite is a 40-year-old native of Saluda, who now resides at Ninety-Six. He has fished professionally since 1993 when he qualified for his first BASSMasters Classic. He was the BASS Angler of the Year in1997 and 2002 and he has won the 1999 BASSMasters Classic and the 1998 FLW Tour Championship. His major sponsors are Triton Boats, Evinrude Outboards, All-Star rods, Pfleuger reels, Pure Fishing (Berkley) Owner hooks and Solar-Bat sunglasses.