The weather is not the only thing warming up these days, the fishing is heating up as well. As the water gets warmer, the fish begin to come shallower in the water column. When the water gets into the 60’s the bass and panfish have one thing on their mind – spawning.
Now before the water gets up to the sixty degree mark, the fish are in what is called the pre-spawn stage. This means they are eating and gaining weight and strength for the upcoming spawn. It also makes them a lot easier to catch. Once they get into spawn stage, they will eat, but a lot of times it is to protect the nest.
Let’s start with the bass. The smallmouth will spawn when water gets into the high 50’s. They like to spawn in eddies on rivers, and in or near marinas, marshes, docks on lakes. Largemouth will also seek some sort of shallow cover to spawn such as docks, logs, lily pads and any other cover they can seek out. Look for white spots on the bottom, this is an area where the fish have cleared the silt, sand on the bottom to find the hard bottom. This is where the female will lay her eggs.
Bass during these two periods are always eager to take a crankbait or soft plastic bait. It is tough for them to pass up a plastic stick bait like a Senko. Throw it out and let it flutter down and they often cannot resist it. A tube jig is another bait that just catches fish. If you do find a bass on a bed, bring your soft plastic on the bed and often times they will eat the bait immediately. There are times though, where the fish do not want anything to do with it. Always remember your states laws about fishing during the spawn. In some states you may not cast on a visible nesting bass. If your state does allow it, please get the fish right back in the water, so it can continue its circle of life in the water.
Panfish, such as bluegills, sunfish, crappie bass, and perch, often can be taken on live bait. These are the fish you should be searching for in order to get a child hooked on fishing. They can provide hours of entertainment and fish catching pleasure. One of the easiest ways to get them is to use a piece of worm on a small #6 or #8 hook. One thing people do wrong is they will put an entire nightcrawler on a hook. This is too big of a meal for them. Simply cut a small piece of worm off and run it on the hook. Your fish landing success should go way up. A fathead minnow is another great bait for them. Perch and crappie will readily eat them at will. If you want more of a challenge, a two inch twister tail grub, mepps spinner, or small spoon will take them as well.
Let’s not forget our bottom feeders as well. Catfish and carp are also on the hunt to find a meal as the water warms up. Corn and doughballs are great for carp, and nightcrawlers, chicken liver and cut bait work well for catfish. Picnic food like hotdogs and shrimp are also great for cats. Some people like throwing a handful of corn out (chumming) or, like when I was a kid fishing in pits, throwing some bread out on the surface, and the carp would come up and slurp it down.
Just remember, this is a great time to be fishing. Please get a child out because it is a time they can enjoy great success, and also remember your elders. There are plenty of our older generation who cannot get around as easy as they could, however if you asked them if they wanted to go I am sure many would love to take you up on the offer and tag along!
Good luck out there, and keep fishin’!!