March is end of fishing tunnel

March is a special month and when some of the biggest bass of the season will be caught, particularly at piedmont lakes.

When I’m working the boat-show and fishing-show circuit during the winter months, I can hardly wait for March to arrive. It’s like the light at the end of the fishing tunnel for me.

First of all, bass fishing in March is a lot better than February, even though we get some of our coldest weather in March. It usually doesn’t last long, the weather is generally getting warmer every day, and the fishing in March is much more consistent than it is in February.

And in March, bass will bite a crankbait, which everybody knows is probably my favorite lure to fish.

In March bass are starting to move up out of deep water. They won’t be ready to really move shallow until the end of the month, or on into April, but they won’t be down in the deep water of the creek or river channels like they are during the winter. One thing to remember, however, is that they won’t be far away.

One of the best things you can do in March is to fish the main part of your favorite lake, and find any places where you’ve got deep water with shallow water nearby — and preferably rocky places.

You want to find places where you can position your boat in 15 to 20 feet of water and be within a cast of the bank. In fact, most of the time, you’re going to be casting a crankbait right to the bank, winding it back down a fairly steep slope, expecting that somewhere along the way, there’s going to be a bass waiting — even if he’s out in 10 or 12 feet of water.

There’s nothing secret about fishing that kind of pattern; most fishermen know about it. The key can be to figure out what kind of rocks fish will favor that day at that spot.

They might be on white rock one day, or short, rocky bluffs, or even on gravelly points if they drop off into deep water.

Usually, bass are going to be at rocky places when they first move up, and usually, they’re going to be feeding on crawfish. That’s why crawfish-colored crankbaits work so well.

As a rule of thumb, if the weather has been cold, I’ll stick with shad-colored baits, but if it’s started to warm up, I fish crawfish colors.

The weather also dictates what I throw. If the water temperature is 50 degrees or lower, I throw a No. 5 or No. 7 Shad Rap. If it’s above 50, I throw a No. 8 or No. 9 Shad Rap, or a DT-10.

March is just a great month to throw a Shad Rap, because it’s a time when bass are more likely to hit a swimming bait than a diving bait. Fish are looking up; they’ll come up and hit your bait. A Shad Rap is swimming bait, and it’s good just about anywhere you fish in March.

You can add a lot of action to a Shad Rap during your retrieve. If the water is cold, I’ll fish it slowly. If it’s been warmer, I’ll fish it faster.

You have to figure out how the fish want it. You can wind it and stop, wind and stop. Or you can wind it along, stop, then pull it with your rod tip, then stop, then wind and stop, wind and stop, pull it some more.

All of those actions will work at one time or the other.

Pulling the bait along with your rod tip will really work if you’ve modified that bait, put a little weight in it and gotten it to where it’ll suspend.

A Shad Rap is one of my favorite baits to fish at rip-rap, and that kind of spot can be really productive in March. A great pattern is to find a rocky bank, a rip-rapped bank, that’s got a lot of current running past it.

A rip-rapped corner is a perfect example. Those are some of the first places where fish will pull up.

Later in the month, you’ll want to took back in main-lake pockets for some of those first big females that move up. I’ll use a No. 5 Shad Rap in those pockets.

In March, you’re probably not going to load the boat at any single spot because fish are starting to scatter out as they move up. You’ll be doing real well if you catch two fish on a spot.

But one thing you can do in March is fish a spot several times during a day. You catch a fish or two off a spot around lunchtime; you can come back at maybe 2 o’clock and catch another one because those fish are pulling up to feed, then dropping back off. They aren’t pulling up for good yet — not until the water warms up some more.

Normally, your best action in March is going to be after the sun’s been up a while and warmed things up a little, making the fish more active.

And another thing you need to remember to do is have a jig ready. I’ll always have a Terminator jig with either a Zoom chunk or craw. I like brown-and-black combinations, but in real clear water, I’ll go to a blue trailer.

Before I leave a place that I really like, if I haven’t caught anything on a crankbait, I’ll pull out a jig and work it.

You have to hop it just a little bit. You cast it out, let it sink to the bottom, then hop it and let it sit for a time.

You don’t want to work it too fast. You want to pay special attention, if you get a bite, to when they hit it.

Do they hit it right as it starts to fall, or right before it hits bottom. That’ll tell you how high you need to hop your jig.

If they’re hitting it at the top, you can hop it higher. If they’re hitting it right on the bottom, but still on the fall, you don’t need to hop it as high.


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, Evinrude Motors, 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.

About David Fritts 127 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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