The Hot Corner

How your compass can point you to fish.

Field & Stream Online Editors

On the majority of lakes at this time of year, one of the best and most consistent bass bites will be found in the northwest corner. What makes this fact indisputable-and this corner so hot-are the forces of nature.

Specifically, the reasons are geographical, meteorological, and biological. In the northern hemisphere, seasonal north winds, which chill the water's surface, tend to blow over the northwest sector in early spring and hit the opposite shore instead. This occurrence, coupled with greater exposure to the sun, makes the water in the northwest sector warmer than it is elsewhere.

In fact, water temperatures are typically 3 to 5 degrees higher here, and early-spring bass will seek out such warmth. But there's more to it than that. Warmer water and increased sunlight jump-start the growth of aquatic vegetation, which produces oxygen through photosynthesis and provides habitat for baitfish and predators. As weeds emerge, the bottom of the lake becomes darker and absorbs more solar energy, further perpetuating the warming effect and generating continued growth. Bass not only find the northwest corner richer in dissolved oxygen, but they also have better cover and more forage opportunities here.

One fishing trip on a Kentucky reservoir early last March is a perfect example. The water temperatures ranged from 42 to 43 degrees in the majority of the lake, and the bite was painfully slow. In three hours of fishing, I managed to catch only one 11-inch largemouth by slow-twitching a suspending jerkbait. Then I headed for the northwest corner. The water here was 47 degrees, and that slight rise in the mercury made all the difference. I caught nine keepers, including a 5-pound smallmouth, on lipless and diving crankbaits, spinnerbaits, and a jerkbait retrieved with aggressive rips.

You can do the same on your home lake by hitting the northwest corner and keying on typical early-spring areas, including flats adjacent to deep water, long points, and offshore humps. Also check shallow coves and pockets for weed growth. On the lake I fished last March, green patches were beginning to appear in the shallows, baitfish were everywhere, and the bass were aggressive. If you find a similar situation, don't hesitate to switch to more active lures and presentations. It's never too early to catch a lot of bass.