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After Ice Out!

By Russ Bassdozer

Do not be lulled into staying home by those who tell you "It is not time yet".

It is. Everywhere. By early March, another season of bass fishing has already started in most sections of the country, especially everywhere below the Mason-Dixon Line, in the West, Southwest and lower parts of the Midwest.

Even in the Northeast, Northwest or upper Midwest...IT IS TIME. I have already taken a good number of bass, both black and brown, from both boat and bank in several Northeastern states.

Well, almost everywhere. No, maybe not on your favorite body of water, but I would be surprised if you tell me you cannot get into your car this weekend and drive an hour or two into low-lying valleys or to a man-made environment (or section thereof) which has a thermal effect to raise the water temperature a bit.

Look for warmer water, which at this time of year includes any kind of discharges from factories, power stations or other man-made facilities. Look for small, shallow ponds or lakes in the bottoms of valleys or at lower altitudes. In the case of smallies, look for small, very deep lakes that have black rock rims. These areas spring to life first, especially if there are suspended particles in the water! Do you know of any small waters like this?

Click here to visit our fishing art galleryHit them now in the mid-afternoon. Look for shallow, black mud-bottomed "fingers" or "mini-coves" that have full sun on the water since noon. Look for trees and brush that form a barricade from the wind on three sides. Black shale or emergent rocks. Often leaves and surface debris will pool in these quiet little dead end eddies. All these factors, black bottom, dark rocks, wind breaks, dark surface debris draw heat into the water. Bass will collect in numbers in these areas now.

It's a time of renewal. The bass are there to revitalize their energy in the sun - not to feed - but you can zip a tube bait past them as quickly as you can, and they will instinctively snap at it! If your favorite color isn't working, try white. Retrieve too slowly, and you may not find them very interested. The water may only be one foot deep, and you can see large numbers of mid-sized bass laying from one side of the cove to the other, all facing the shoreline. Pick out one of the a bigger bass as your target, and cast 6-8 feet beyond it. I use a pointy-nosed jig with the hook eye right on the tip of the nose for its weed-shedding properties. Glue the tube on it. Start reeling before the tube even hits the water. Steer it away from surface debris and right in front of your chosen target's mouth. Done properly, your target will instinctively open its mouth and SNAP down on your tube jig! However, your streaking tube may also create a competitive reaction among several smaller bass that will chase and snap at it too!

After a few casts, you may blow the school out of there, so you must make each cast count. However, return in fifteen minutes and enough bass will have recollected in the heat pool in order to give you another 2-3 casts at them. While you wait for them to recollect, fish any shallow dead reed, rock or wood cover out of the wind and in full sun a short distance outside the "mouth" of the mini-cove with a big jig 'n pig.

Big solitary egg-laden females will be laying there, ripening their swollen bellies in the sun. Your best weapon here is your own stealth. The female will hate to have your big jig 'n pig intruding in her chosen space and she will attempt to kill it if you do not startle her out of her somnambulant state by your presence.

After you alternately fish 2-3 times between the mini-cove and outside cover, most of the bass will be quite alerted to your presence and will have disappeared from view. So go find another untapped heat sink further down the bank and repeat the process.

Hope it helps you break the ice on a brand new season.

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