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Fishing/Early season bass

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Question
Hey Uncle! How you been? Me and a buddy are starting to explore up here in washington to find some good bass!  Figured I'd ask the best largemouth fisherman I know his favorite techniques for trying to catch some cold water bass, been pretty sucessful pulling decent trout out of the lakes up here but I'm iching for some bass!  Most of the lakes I've been fishing are surrounded by houses with docks but the bass haven't moved that shallow yet, and with no fish finder locating underwater structure is a little tough, I was thinking about fishing some points at verying depths to see if I can find a school or two.  Just picked up a fiberglass boat to refurbish and buying a 5 horse for it today, fishfinder is next on the list though, but until then fishing from my buddies boat with no fish finder.  let me know your thoughts and let the family know I send my love.

With Love,
Your Favorite Nephew

Answer
Hey Brett!

Yee haw! Good question. Spring has sprung down here and the fish are moving up to spawn. The warm winter has been a mixed blessing; the water just never got as cold as during normal winters. Fortunately, the other trigger for the bass is the photo period...the duration of daylight each day.

So without knowing the key information about the lakes and ponds you'll be fishing, there are some basic patterns you'll likely find fish on.

If the lake is deep (lots of 50 foot plus water) and clear, you'll do well to figure out the water temp. If it's less than 48-50 degrees, the fish (largemouth) will still be on winter patterns and spending much of their time at those depths. So drop shotting with four to six inch worms will certainly produce some fish. So will jig and pig worked slowly to imitate a crawfish. Check primary points but don't rule out shallower fish...they're gonna go where the food is. If you recall the fish you took on Travis with the Rattlin' rap in the cold water, it was a reaction bite and that lure lends itself to good depth control. I would also try working 1/2 oz willow leaf spinnerbaits slow and deep along drop-offs that border some shallower water...be sure to use a stinger hook on them.

As the days go by and the temps start creeping up (or if they are already in the mid-fifties) the fish will be pre-spawn (upper 40's to the mid fifties is the "pre-spawn" temp range in the northern latitudes)and you won't have any trouble finding feeders. Find the shad if you can and cover lots of water with crankbaits...just match the hatch or check with the locals on any odd colors that tend to kill the fish. I would likely use suspending jerkbaits so you can control the depth but if the water is really clear, have yourself some fun with size 11 or 13 floating Rapalas in the "S" color (silver belly, black back), a local color choice or match any feed you see or know the lake has. Most lakes have shad or some form of prolific bait fish. Try rippin' the baits...it's a series of short, brisk jerks of the rod tip all the while cranking the reel about a turn per jerk...like the bait-fish is darting away to evade the predators. Remember in clear water, feeding bass will come up from some decent depths and if the barometer is dropping, the fish may surprise you and maybe, just maybe, give you a cold temp top-water show!

As you might remember, I WILL NOT fish the beds. I just respect the fish and the sport too much. There will nearly always be pre-spawn and post spawn fish around when the spawn is on, so pulling a sow or a buck off a bed and allowing the bluegill and other predators to hit the nest is nuts.

If the water is clear at all, be sure to take a cruise around the lake and look carefully for fish...the bucks will come up and look for bed sites first and then start coaxing the females up...Remember something else: lakes warm at different rates. So on larger lakes, the northern side of the lake will warm a bit more quickly as spring progresses than the southern side and you will likely have fish behaving vary differently in those varied areas. And don't forget the smallmouth! They love jerk baits...and rock piles...give'm a go!

So Brett, we could go on and on but that should give you some confidence while checking out your new fishing holes.

Have fun Buddy! Stay safe and let me know how you do.

P.S. Give your Grandpa and Grandma a call and say hey...

Till then, stay hooked and send me some pics! And while your at it, check out TheBassinBlog.com...

- Your Uncle

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Mark Rimmer

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I have been actively fishing for forty-five years! For nearly 15 of those years I was able to fish nearly 200 days per year. Those wonderful days have left me with a plethora of knowledge to share. I have fished from the Marianas of the Pacific to the quiet tidewaters of Virginia and North Carolina, Antigua the gulf coast of Texas and many places in between. My home waters are those of the west. I am passionate about bass fishing, tournament as well as recreational. In addition, I am well versed in fishing for most other species...(Okay, although interesting, I'm not an expert on British or European style competitive carp fishing...chumming with a slingshot anyone?). I am intimately acquainted with the San Diego County Lakes, Diamond Valley reservoir in Riverside County California and numerous other exciting fishing waters from Texas (Travis County) to the Pacific Coast and south to Cabo San Lucas. I have many years of experience in blue-water as well as inshore angling of all types in Southern California with both artificial and live baits; high country fishing in the Sierra Nevada Mountains of my beloved Golden State with nothing but a backpack and a fly-rod. There are still a lifetime of adventures to undertake, together with my lovely wife, Christine. I am an expert rod smith and have vast experience with both the construction and repair all types of rods including split bamboo (new or vintage) and hickory as well as graphite, boron composites and all types of fiberglass. I spent 20 years in the retail business of which 6 were spent owning and operating a successful tackle shop, specializing in custom rod making, rod and reel repairs and a full scale tackle selection. Uncommon topics I love to discuss: Fisheries Management; Tackle Shop/ retail management; Ethics and responsibilities of anglers; Repair and maintenance of rods/reels; "How to"...any topic in fishing.

Experience

I took a few years off,(5 to be exact) from answering questions for AllExperts.com but I'm back now! My experience? Forty-Five years of bio-observation, fishing numerous types of waters with virtually every type of tackle: Casting, Fly, Spinning, Offshore/blue-water, Coastal, Surf, Tournaments: ( Bass, Local Saltwater), Alpine lakes/streams, ditches, canals, sloughs, marshes, creeks and swamps; if there is water, I usually throw a cast or two. Tackle Shop ownership and management, Expert Custom Rod Construction and repair (Big-game, Long-range stand-up, Live bait, jig sticks, Casting, Spinning and fly- including split-cane). I have personally constructed over 700 custom rods of all types...nearly half of the rods the shop turned out. I also have performed hundreds of reel repairs of all types- antique to modern. I do not typically offer valuation of tackle. This is very difficult without inspecting the tackle first hand and leaving valuation far to subjective. I will be happy to offer other experts for placing a value on your tackle.

Organizations
NRA forever...(Gun rights...Guns and fishing rods belong together right?), belonged to BASS for most of my life but keep forgetting to renew. I like Trout Unlimited but again, keep forgetting to renew...gotta choose...one more tank of gas and some fresh line...or memberships? Hmmm.

Publications
None yet...why aren't they chasing me?

Education/Credentials
"Roads" Scholar. Life-long independent study of fisheries biology, ichthyology, aquatic/marine biology, ecosystems, angling techniques and observations of animals, fish and humans: both smart guys and knuckleheads.

Awards and Honors
Self-Proclaimed tackleshop of the year! The California Tackle Box- Oceanside, Ca.

Past/Present Clients
Thousands served!

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