So I was admiring my newly emergent apple blossoms over the weekend when I also remembered how they relate to smallmouth-bass fishing. They are blooming early this year, thanks to a warmer-than-usual winter and early spring. That same short-term weather pattern also affects the spawning time of bass in our local lakes, which this year will be earlier than usual also. As it happens, the blossoming and spawning usually coincide.

Eureka! So when my apple trees bloom, it’s time to go smallmouth fishing. There’s nothing really new about that idea, nor did I discover it. It is all part of a science called phenology that I’ve been writing about occasionally–and as it relates to fishing–for the past 20 years or so.

I have learned, for example, that when the peonies blossom in the garden in late May or early June–depending on the year–that the little sulfur mayflies will be hatching on my local trout river. Note that this applies to a free-flowing river only. Tailwaters, with their controlled flow and temperature regimes, tend to mix up the timing of fly hatches.

Most of the seed and garden catalogs that you’ve been getting over the winter have hardiness-zone maps for plants. Interestingly, you could look at the same map as a seasonal fishing predictor. Such maps have sometimes been referred to as hatch predictors on trout rivers, but they apply to other kinds of fishing, too.

The approximate dates of migrating shad or the movements of snook are all climate related and follow seasonal patterns that fluctuate along with the weather. Various flowing plants are subject to the same weather and vary in blossoming dates accordingly. When my local lilacs are in blossom, for example, I know it’s time to go shad fishing.

So for just about any angler anywhere, one of the best fishing predictors is your home garden or in noting the general state of plants in your immediate area. Keeping track of what happens and when can be really helpful. Or, put another way, to be a successful angler it really helps to notice things.