By Dave Wolak
Go early, stay late. It’s a mantra that most hardcore anglers live by. But I can tell you when it comes to bass, it’s not so applicable in March. This month it’s more like sleep in, stay late. Or get up early and tell fish stories at the diner over 19 cups of rot gut coffee, go shoot the breeze at the tackle shop for a few hours, then get out on the lake. Fact is, the bass bite is far better in the afternoon in early spring, and that’s because the activity level of the entire ecosystem is going to be at its peak during the warmer afternoon. As far as staying late, I don’t mean wear night vision goggles and throw Jitterbugs in the dark. Although Fred Arbogast would be proud, it’s not time for that yet. Just stay until dusk, then head home to watch some college basketball before the temperature starts dropping again. Here’s why.
Early spring bass activity revolves around the smallest changes in temperature. Bass seek warmth, which is why early March mornings aren’t usually great. Are a small percentage of bass still going to bite because of the early low light conditions? Sure, but statistically, early mornings aren’t worth the same effort this time of year as you’d put in during the summer, fall, or even late spring. In my experience, March action flicks on like a light switch when the clock strikes noon. The rocks start to warm up as the sun gets high, a crawfish pokes its antenna out from under a rock to see what’s shakin’ in the neighborhood, you take your Gore-Tex layer off and stretch the arms, and it’s game on. Suddenly, a relatively fish-less morning turns into a big bass in the boat from a spot that was dead a couple hours ago. I call it the “afternoon delight.”
Serious bass anglers take serious notice of water temperature details all the time, especially in the early spring. You should always have a pretty good idea of where the bass at your favorite fishing hole are holding based on water temp alone, and that comes with logging time and paying attention. Over the years in major tournaments, I’ve altered my entire strategy multiple times based on a fickle 1 or 2 degrees of water temperature fluctuation. And I’m talking running the boat 40 miles to gain 2 degrees in water temperature without a second thought. Point being, if you’re just fun fishing during early pre-spawn and want to save time and gas money by not hunting all morning for an extra bite or two, just wait until the afternoon. It will simplify your search for active fish, and you’ll be better rested for fighting those pre-spawn blimps.