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March Bass: The Need For Cold Water Speed

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March 11, 2013

March Bass: The Need For Cold Water Speed

By Dave Wolak

It’s March, and that means it’s time to release all that cooped up enthusiasm and get back on the water. Bass fishermen around the country are de-winterizing their boats and spooling nine million yards of fresh line only to get out on the lake and drag lures across the bottom all day at a snail’s pace. To me, that’s like drinking 5 Red Bulls to get pumped up to paint your garage floor. Sorry, but I find the cold-water drag utterly painful, and I could never figure out why so many fishermen lean on it this time of year, especially considering it’s so often aimlessly executed, even when it’s not producing.

If you pay attention you’ll notice that most March tournaments in colder regions, especially those on lakes where the bass are pre-spawn, are won with "fast" techniques; fast-falling, fast-ripping, fast-punching, fast cranking...whatever.

There’s nothing wrong with presenting baits with speed and erratic movement in early spring refuge locations, because despite their slowed metabolisms, bass are opportunistic predators that instinctively react to forage that comes zipping by.

Let’s say I find wintering or staging bass suspended on a deep bluff wall in one part of the lake, and hovering around a stump on a channel edge in 18 feet of water in another. The first thing I’m going to do is work a suspending jerkbait with a fast twitch for the fish on the bluff instead of letting a lightweight jig slowly fall through the school. As for the fish on the deep stump, I would sooner snap a spoon, aggressively pop a heavy jig, or try to get an erratic deep-diving crankbait deflecting off the stump or surrounding bottom.

If none of that works, I’ll move to another location before starting the slow drag around fish I’ve already found, because I know that nine times out of ten, I’m going to score the heaviest bass in the school out of the gate (see photo from this February in North Carolina) working baits fast. And when they hit, it’s not going to feel like that subtle cold-water Carolina rig nudge.

Comments (10)

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from 2Poppa wrote 1 year 5 weeks ago

Good article Dave! I use homemade crankbaits here in Kentucky and like you said,"get an erratic deep-diving crankbait deflecting off the stump or surrounding bottom" is key to a particular lake I fish. Last year we had 32 lbs. of big mouth bass in the boat in 48 degree weather in 5 hours.
As for jigs, I swim them to a stump, then drop 'em. Usually, on the twitch, I hit the stump fast and furious, to provoke the strike as the fish hammers it.
It would be wise to check the line frequently for abrasions, especially stump jumping.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Ncarl wrote 1 year 5 weeks ago

I have a bad case of cabbin fever. We get a warm day that warms the water up a bit then 4 cold ones that takes it right back to where it was if not putting a little glaze on the smaller bodies of water. I would bet the water is about 40 degrees right now.

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from buckhunter wrote 1 year 5 weeks ago

Great tips, Dave. It's ice-out here in Ohio and the bass are biting good. March is when I have the best luck with the biggie's.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from David Wolak wrote 1 year 5 weeks ago

Thanks guys! I'll be out on the water all next week. Cabin fever is rough for sure!

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from carloutdoors wrote 1 year 5 weeks ago

Thanks for the tips still a little to cold in Pa.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Tom-Tom wrote 1 year 4 weeks ago

Here in central Missouri, the ponds and smaller lakes have frozen over and opened up four or five times in the last three weeks. I'll start with a fire tiger shadrap before the jig and pig. You can vary speed and/or depth to match the situation.

And one suggestion, Dave, when you hold a fish way out in front of you towards the camera to give the impression that the fish is bigger than it really is, in my opinion, just as a writer of "The Honest Angler" blog should never distort the truth, neither should the photographer/editor.

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from buckhunter wrote 1 year 4 weeks ago

Tom-Tom,

I believe it was the late John Merwin who taught us no matter how you hold the fish, it the same size.

On a side note: God Bless the Ad Exec who scored the Simms ad to the right. Cermele, give that person a raise.

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from David Wolak wrote 1 year 4 weeks ago

Thanks. That particular fish weighed exactly 8.2 lbs and happened to be caught on video as well, it was weighed quickly and released on video too. I agree distorting can happen when fish are closer to the camera, but this particular fish was a pretty camera friendly special one for me that didn't need help. It was a great close to a cold rainy day in NC and provided me an epic fishing moment.

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from wisc14 wrote 1 year 4 weeks ago

still icefishing here in northern wi...

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from w2e2b wrote 1 year 4 weeks ago

Why do these guys continue to hold fish out in front of them as far as they can reach in an attempt to fool someone in to thinking "oh you have a really big one". The only person they are fooling when looking at the picture is themselves.In this guys case I can understand it, he's hoping nobody will notice the RED pants.

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from Ncarl wrote 1 year 5 weeks ago

I have a bad case of cabbin fever. We get a warm day that warms the water up a bit then 4 cold ones that takes it right back to where it was if not putting a little glaze on the smaller bodies of water. I would bet the water is about 40 degrees right now.

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from Tom-Tom wrote 1 year 4 weeks ago

Here in central Missouri, the ponds and smaller lakes have frozen over and opened up four or five times in the last three weeks. I'll start with a fire tiger shadrap before the jig and pig. You can vary speed and/or depth to match the situation.

And one suggestion, Dave, when you hold a fish way out in front of you towards the camera to give the impression that the fish is bigger than it really is, in my opinion, just as a writer of "The Honest Angler" blog should never distort the truth, neither should the photographer/editor.

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from buckhunter wrote 1 year 4 weeks ago

Tom-Tom,

I believe it was the late John Merwin who taught us no matter how you hold the fish, it the same size.

On a side note: God Bless the Ad Exec who scored the Simms ad to the right. Cermele, give that person a raise.

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from 2Poppa wrote 1 year 5 weeks ago

Good article Dave! I use homemade crankbaits here in Kentucky and like you said,"get an erratic deep-diving crankbait deflecting off the stump or surrounding bottom" is key to a particular lake I fish. Last year we had 32 lbs. of big mouth bass in the boat in 48 degree weather in 5 hours.
As for jigs, I swim them to a stump, then drop 'em. Usually, on the twitch, I hit the stump fast and furious, to provoke the strike as the fish hammers it.
It would be wise to check the line frequently for abrasions, especially stump jumping.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from buckhunter wrote 1 year 5 weeks ago

Great tips, Dave. It's ice-out here in Ohio and the bass are biting good. March is when I have the best luck with the biggie's.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from David Wolak wrote 1 year 5 weeks ago

Thanks guys! I'll be out on the water all next week. Cabin fever is rough for sure!

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from carloutdoors wrote 1 year 5 weeks ago

Thanks for the tips still a little to cold in Pa.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from David Wolak wrote 1 year 4 weeks ago

Thanks. That particular fish weighed exactly 8.2 lbs and happened to be caught on video as well, it was weighed quickly and released on video too. I agree distorting can happen when fish are closer to the camera, but this particular fish was a pretty camera friendly special one for me that didn't need help. It was a great close to a cold rainy day in NC and provided me an epic fishing moment.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from wisc14 wrote 1 year 4 weeks ago

still icefishing here in northern wi...

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from w2e2b wrote 1 year 4 weeks ago

Why do these guys continue to hold fish out in front of them as far as they can reach in an attempt to fool someone in to thinking "oh you have a really big one". The only person they are fooling when looking at the picture is themselves.In this guys case I can understand it, he's hoping nobody will notice the RED pants.

0 Good Comment? | | Report

Post a Comment