Kayaks are great for spring bass fishing
Fishing during the month of March, particularly kayak fishing, can be a beautiful thing or a serious hardship, with much of the distinction being the weather.
Driving across a lake or parallel to the shoreline, it may seem like fish should be jumping in the boat. But once on the lake, the truth is the water can still be particularly cold and the wind you didn’t notice much from up on the hill will cut you like a knife.
The good news, the news that keeps everyone getting up before dawn and heading to the water with high hopes, is that March is a great time to catch big fish. No matter what you’re after – bass, crappie, stripers, even off-the-wall species like perch, catfish, and bream, are on the move. And the largest and hardiest of the species typically get the pick of the shallows for eventually spawning.
March is a time to pay particular attention to channel edges. Everyone knows channel edges are travel routes for a lot of fish, but it’s the exit ramps that you need to find this month, those cuts and coves that lead from the bigger tributary creeks to the banks.
Go shallow for bass
When the water temperatures rise, fish will move up those exit ramps into sometimes ridiculously shallow water. At other times, after the cold front, they’ll back down the ramps and hold along structure like brush piles and rocky outcroppings until the weather improves.
Dealing with the wind is another factor, especially when fishing from a kayak. The best fishing areas tend to be closer to the main lake and that exposes you to hard winds. It’s not a bad idea to pack a grappling anchor along and deploy it behind the boat. Another trick other than using a grappling anchor is to attach a 6- to 8-foot length of logging chain to a length of ½-inch nylon rope. With the wind at your back, drop the chain and let it drag along the bottom, slowing you enough to make several good casts before you have to pull up and paddle on to the next target.
For you live bait kayak anglers, March is not a good time to try to present a live bait unless you find the rare calm day. With hormones on the rise, many fish get cranky, meaning it’s not so hard to get that reaction bite from a crankbait, spinnerbait, or erratic action plastic bait. It’s also much easier to direct an artificial bait to a target if you’ve only got a few seconds before you have to get back on the paddle or pedal.
Finally, never judge a fishing day solely by the weather forecast. If you wait for the “right day” you’ll probably miss the best fishing. Everyone has witnessed those situations where the wind was too strong, it rained, it snowed, the water turned muddy, or something occurred that should have cut the fishing off but instead the fish bit like there was no tomorrow. That’s the influence of the pre-spawn, it’s unpredictable and has a way of negating the worst conditions and making things turn out pretty good.
WHAT — Largemouth bass
WHERE — Jordan Lake
HOW — Look for big females to move into the creeks as the weather warms. Target rocky clay banks in the areas of tributaries where creeks meet the main lake, then move further into the creeks as the fish move in. Cast shallow and medium running crankbaits into a foot of water and work them back to the kayak in 20 feet, bumping the bottom as you retrieve. Use dark, crawdad browns and blacks in muddy or dingy water. Use light green or pumpkinseed colors in clear water.
INSIDER TIP — Locals say the upper part of the lake turns on earlier in the year. Also consider spring run-off and clay banks with southerly exposure.
WHAT — Largemouth bass
WHERE — Lake Murray
HOW — If windy, target secondary points in mid-lake creeks. Spinnerbaits in white, chartreuse and combinations of white, chartreuse and blue are hard to beat.
INSIDER TIP — Tie a section of 20-pound fluorocarbon leader on your line with flashy spinnerbaits and run them through brush piles.
Forget the forecast
This month, never judge a fishing day solely by the weather forecast. If you wait for the “right day” you’ll probably miss the best bass fishing.
Great weather forecasts are tough to come by this month. March is often windy, often rainy, and sometimes both at the same time. Temperatures can switch between freezing cold and summertime hot in the same day.
The good news is, some of the best fishing days actually happen during days that don’t seem fit to walk out of the house. That’s especially true this month because of the seasonal changes that push bass into acting in unconventional ways and feeding in unconventional situations.
Everyone has witnessed those situations where the wind was too strong, it rained, it snowed, the water turned muddy, or something occurred that should have cut the fishing off but instead the fish bit like there was no tomorrow. That’s the influence of the pre-spawn. It’s unpredictable and has a way of negating the worst conditions and making things turn out pretty good.
Forget the forecast. Pack your windbreaker, pack your raingear, pack your snow gloves, find a cove out of the wind and prepare yourself for the fish of a lifetime.