For as long as I can remember there is one instrument on my boat that I have relied on heavily to help me determine where bass are located and how deep they should be. That instrument is a temperature gauge.
In almost all my articles I will make a statement about the surface temperature of the lake. Temperature is a very controlling factor with fish behavior. Some say it is the controlling factor of metabolism, movement, feeding activity and every other behavioral function. Whenever fish make a major move you can be sure that temperature plays a major role.
Have you ever wondered what is the “magical temperature” when bass are most aggressive? I’ve heard different theories on this, but most experts say that the ideal temperature for optimum largemouth bass growth and activity is about 80 degrees.
I’ve caught a lot of fish below the 80 degree mark and down to about 50 degrees. But once you reach 90 degrees and above you will notice a marked decline in bass activity.
Biologists will tell you that between 70 and 80 degrees it takes about 18 to 24 hours for bass to digest their food. During the winter time it may take bass 4 or 5 days to digest food.
I once heard that bass are most likely to consume larger bait fish when the water is between 78 and 82 degrees. Last week the surface temperature on our area lakes has been approximately 79 degrees, so you may want to tie on some of your larger topwater baits like a Zara Spook or a chugger like a Nichols’ Pop-U-Lure.
Last week John Long and I found some very active bass on Lake Jacksonville. Bass have been seen roaming the banks in wolf packs of three to four bass. I’ve talked to several individuals that live on the lake, and they report seeing bass cruising the shallows.
Long and I found some active schooling bass in the dam area. Instead of seeing big schools of bass I’m mostly seeing small pods of bass actively feeding near the surface.
Last Tuesday morning while Long and I were fishing down a bank, Long said he could see a dozen bass holding up in one small area in about two feet of water. We tried casting to these bass but got no reaction. Later we noticed a pod of shad moving through the same area. That’s what it took to activate the fish. Once they began feeding on the shad you could easily catch these bass.
The bass were finicky at times, but we caught our share of bass up to about three pounds on watermelon/pumpkin lizards and Baby Brush Hogs. At times they would strike a Nichols’ Pop-U-Lure and a 3” Crème pearl swim bait. I tried a variety of baits but the most consistent bait was a Carolina rigged Baby Brush Hog. The majority of these bass were in about three to seven feet of water.
A lot of bass are shallow now because that’s where most of the bait fish are hanging out, although I did catch some bass out over 17 feet of water.
As you read this article a major cold front is about to hit our area. This should activate more bass, and fishing should be excellent.
Jerry Miller can be contacted at: firstname.lastname@example.org