Gauging by this week’s forecast, it looks like the tide may be turning on winter in many parts of the country. And if you’re like me, the first thing you want to do on that first warm weekend of the season is get back on the water. Of all the questions I get about tactics for those first couple trips of the year, I hear this one the most: Do I fish shallow or deep? Lured by warm breezes and sun on their faces, many guys start hitting those docks and flats like it’s July. It’s not
Bass don’t just move from point A to point Z the second it’s warm enough for you to get away with just wearing a long-sleeve shirt. By and large, it’s still winter for bass, and they’ll stick to the same deep points they’ve been holding since Santa came down the chimney. These spots, however, can be daunting to approach and decipher. Deep points in close proximity to transitions into shallow water will be most productive this time of year. That’s because the bass know the weather is not yet entirely stable. That means during one weekend you might catch a few nice bass on a spinnerbait in shallow cove, and this tells you a few bass have started to transition to skinnier water. But if it cold snaps again, you can bet they’ll boogie back to the depths. How deep depends on the forecasts. A minor dip in temps might just send them into a deeper ditch within the cove; a big dip may send them right back to that deep wintering point
With all of this in mind, on that first really warm day in the early season, start deep. You can assume the quick uptick in temperature wasn’t enough to warm the shallows just yet. Because of that, you can also assume the bass have no reason to leave the more comfortable depths, and every reason to stay there and feed. If you’re just dying to work skinny water, go check it out late in the day after the sun had maximal time to bake your favorite cove.