Part 2 – Developing a Pattern Based On Seasonal Tendencies of Bass
By viewing pattern fishing from the seasonal tendencies of bass, you simply find and catch bass on any given day. You start with a simple pattern that may or may not have to be fine tuned for local conditions.
Water is cold, even in central Arkansas. Water temperature is usually in the mid to upper 30's. Here comes that one day where air temps are in the 50's, you have been cooped up for a while and you want to go fishing. Where do I start and what lures do I use? Remember the general tendencies: During this period the bass are most lethargic. They tend to stay in one place and do not move far or fast to eat. The best bet is a large tributary or the main lake with areas having a fast descent into deep water. Vertical rock bluffs or steep banks with gravel or chunk rock on them. Try to pinpoint areas that have fallen trees or jumps along the slopes.
Fish slowly. Try slow rolling a 1 ounce spinnerbait, a pig and jig, a grub on a jig head, or a jigging spoon.
Water temperature is in the mid to upper 50's. Bass are beginning to stage for spawning and males are starting to frequent bedding areas in order to find and build nests. Bass are foraging for food prior to the spawn. Starting spots will be humps, points at the mouth of a spawning cove and areas between the deep water and the spawning area.
During this period bass are reasonably active and feeding. Try chunking and winding a spinnerbait, burning a Rat-L-Trap, a Texas-rigged plastic worm or lizard, a jig and pig, a jerk baits or a Carolina-rigged lizard.
Largemouth Bass generally begin the spawn when water temperature reaches the high 60's or low 70's. The month or months varies widely depending on which region of the country you are in. The full moon has a drastic impact on this cycle also. Rule of thumb is that the spawn occurs 3 days before the full moon and last till 3 days following the full moon. The spawn may take place over a couple of months. Here on Lake Ouachita, where I reside, the bass spawn in waves in March, April and May. During this period, bass are concentrated in one spot – the beds. They only move to protect the bed or their eggs. They do not eat during this period but will strike baits that appear to be a threat to the nest or eggs.
You are going to be sight fishing for visible bass on beds in reasonably shallow water. The best baits are a Texas-rigged worm or lizard, Senko, slow rolling a spinnerbait, a gitzit, a tube or a jig and pig.
TIP: Be sure to wear your Polaroid sunglasses and you will be able to see the bass on the beds.
I personally am not in favor of fishing for bedding fish. That is my preference because the spawn is so important to the continuation of the species in our lakes. If you should catch a spawning big-bellied female, please release her after you have taken pictures.
The male and female bass are now protecting the fry. The majority of the time the fry will be in a tight bundle and close to the surface. The adult bass will be close by protecting them. Postspawn ends when the protecting bass pass through the fry bundle eating some as they leave. This is a signal to the fry that they are now on their own and begins the postspawn period. Now these adult bass have not eaten for several weeks and are looking for a quick, easy meal. Bass are going to be thin and lethargic. The key to fishing these bass will be to fish slowly but there are times when bass will want a fast retrieve.
The temperature is probably in the mid 70's. Bass will leave the spawning areas and hold on the first available area with deepwater access. This might be a ledge, a rip rap or a creek channel. Top water baits, deep-diving crank baits, waking a – – 1 ounce spinnerbait, Texas-rigged worms, jerk baits and the Senko will work great.
Water temperature has risen to the 80's. Many bass move offshore during summer and fan out over the body of water. These are well known as "dog days." Bass will gain some weight and become more aggressive. They will begin to school and chase bait. As the summer continues, the techniques and patterns will change. You will have to figure out where the bass are and play with the various techniques until you figure out what patterns will work. When these changes occurs is all dependent on the weather conditions.
Bass are going to be in 15 to 30+ feet of water. Fishing for suspended fish is likely to become the name of the game. One pattern that works in this type of circumstance is to slow roll a chatterbait in the suspended fish. The pattern Scott Suggs used to win the Forrest Wood Cup tournament on Lake Ouachita this last August was to slow roll a spinnerbait over the submerged trees, typically bumping the tree tops, in 30+ feet of water. Top water baits will work on schooling fish and Texas-rigged plastic worms will work on humps and ridges in 15+ feet of water. Your best bet is to fish very early, daylight to 9 or 10:00 o'clock and late in the evening 7:00 o'clock until and after dark.
Water temperatures are dropping from the mid 70's. When the days begin to cool and water temperature is 75 degrees or below, bass become active and move to flats near the main river channel. These are often loaded with logs, brush or grass. Concentrate on small pockets near these flats. Bass will be very aggressive during this period and will feed heavily prior to moving to a deer, slower winter pattern.
Bass will be very aggressive during this period and will feed heavily prior to moving to a deer, slower winter pattern. Use faster baits in these conditions such as top water baits like the Pop-R and Zara Spook and Rat-L-Traps, buzzbaits, and mid to shallow running crank baits.
These are some of the ways to combine water temperature, time or seasons of the year and the general tendencies of the Largemouth Bass to develop a pattern for catching bass. These are very broad patterns and specific lakes, weather conditions and habitat will require you to refine these to a specific pattern. For instance, if you ever fish Grand Lake in Oklahoma, look for willow trees in the water, especially during postspawn and spring. You find willow trees in 4-5 feet of water you will catch bass regardless of what bait you use. If you fish the Ouachita River Basin in Louisiana, look for Cyprus tree or stumps with live vegetation growing out of the stump. Nine out 10 times when throw a worm or craw worm next to the stump, you will get bit.
I hope this article has answered some of your questions about patterning bass and has given you enough information to begin developing your own patterns for the lakes you fish. Keep a tight line and remember catch and release.