Bass, anglers get Marching orders

Largemouth bass will hit just about any type of lure during March, but most fish will orient themselves near wood or rock structure at big impoundments — and warmer water.

March is a great month to bass fish, and it’s not just because I’ve been stuck inside for a couple of months or because I’m getting tired of bundling up like an Eskimo to get out on the water.I think March is one of the better months of the whole year to catch fish. The pressure has been off most of our lakes for several months, the fish have been cold and haven’t been doing much feeding, and March is a month when they start biting and feeding up. In fact, they’re pretty hungry a lot of the time.

This month, depending on where you are in North Carolina, you can find fish doing anything from schooling on top to feeding along the rip-rap around a bridge.

This is a month when you can use a lot of different baits to catch fish because bass are aggressive and willing to chase a bait that’s moving along. It’s a month when you need to pay attention to the temperature gauge on your boat, and it’s a month that starts with dirty water being bad and ends with dirty water being good.

In most areas of North Carolina, March is a month when bass are going to be staging before they go on into pockets to spawn. Sometimes they’ll be at secondary points back in creeks, at those little points on the outside edges of spawning flats. I’ve always thought that was important, when you’re fishing shallow in March, to remember that your best chances in the shallows are in places that are pretty close to deep water and have a hard bottom. That’s always been a good pattern.

I think a lot of people fish too deep in March. You can catch fish deep, but usually you don’t catch the quality fish there you’ll catch up against the bank.

Those big females are the first to move up, the first to spawn.

I like to fish banks that get a lot of sunlight, and I like to fish around cover or structure that absorbs sunlight and helps the surrounding water warm up more quickly. Wood is good, but rock is my favorite, and I’ve seen any type of black object be good.

There have been times when the water got up so high it was above the low-water bridge at the back of Nutbush Creek at Buggs Island, and fish oriented themselves at the blacktop, the asphalt on that road crossing the bridge.

March is a month when you can fish many baits. Bass will hit jigs and Carolina rigs and spinnerbaits and crankbaits at different times. Weather and water conditions will push you to one or the other.

If water temperature stays below 50 degrees, it’s pretty tough to fish a crankbait, but a crankbait can be productive if the sun gets out, and the water warms up a little bit.

A Shad Rap is probably one of my No. 1 choices, especially later in the month. A DT-6, DT-10 and Wiggle Wart are really good baits in colder water, because you normally are never going to have to fish any deeper than 10 feet. Fish are hungry and aggressive, and they’ll come up and hit your bait. Even a jerkbait can be really good.

I fish the lower half of most lakes in March because the upper ends take a little longer to warm up, so fish will be more active at the lower end.

At Lake Wylie, for example, I’d be fishing the lower half, from Buster Boyd Bridge down to the dam. Another reason is the lower end of most or our lakes will hold clearer water, and the better fish will bite better in clearer water.

It’s hard to catch fish in cold, dirty water. You need to let the water reach 57 or 58 or 59 degrees — and stay there for a while — before you start targeting stained water.

Once the water temperature gets up there, dirty water will warm up faster, but when the water temperature is just on the high side of 50, you’ll be a lot more productive in clear water.

When water really warms up and fish really move shallow, that’s when stained water becomes so much better.

One thing that will help you catch more fish is staying on the move. Most of the time, when fish start moving up, if you’ve got kind of structure, a laydown, you may catch one fish there, but rarely in March, when the water is still cold, you catch a lot of fish.

Get a little milk-run going and cover a lot of water. Where you caught fish, you may be able to come back in an hour and catch another, come back an hour later and catch another.

Key on little areas where those fish are moving up — part of a point, a section of rip-rap — and keep moving back and forth between those spots.

Really, March is a great month, and not just because we look forward to it so much as the long winter comes to an end, or because it’s the beginning of a long fishing season.

Editor’s note: David Fritts is a 49-year-old professional bass fisherman from Lexington. He was the 1993 BASS Masters Classic champion, the 1993-94 BASS Angler of the Year and the 1997 FLW Tour Champion. His sponsors include: Bass Pro Shops, Ranger Boats, Chevy Trucks, Minn-Kota trolling motors, American Rodsmith, Rapala crankbaits and fishing line, Zoom plastics, Solar Bat sun glasses, Mountain Dew, Gripper (ECS Anchor Supply), VMC hooks, Pro Pocket and Blue Fox.

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About David Fritts 113 Articles
David Fritts is a 61-year-old pro bass fisherman from Lexington, N.C. He won the 1993 Bassmasters Classic champion and the 1997 FLW Tour Championship, and he was the 1994 BASS Angler of the Year. He is sponsored by Ranger boats, Evinrude outboards, Lew’s, Minnkota,and Berkley.

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