At long last, the season, the month, the almost magical time we have been waiting for is here at Toledo Bend.
I call it March Madness.
And it can’t come a moment too soon. March heralds the spawning season — the time for bass and white perch to get on their nests on the No. 1 bass fishery in America.
Bass anglers can target fish moving up to the shallows or fish in the shallows doing their thing or go after fish moving back after the spawn.
I foresee a lot of big fish being caught and a lot of numbers being caught this month. Barring a flooding situation, it’ll be Katie bar the door.
As for hawgs — double-digit bass — the count since last May is off the normal pace a little, with just less than 30 as of late January. I believe it’ll rebound nicely in February, the prespawn period, and, of course, in March.
The opportunity to catch a big girl is there.
Where to go? The pool level at this writing was 169.58. The last spate of storms that moved through the region in mid-January raised the water level, and it could go up some more, but I don’t see a full pool (172 feet) happening in March.
The main-lake ridges and major flats will be prime targets as, without a huge influx of water, bass won’t be able to go into the backwaters as they have the past few years.
If the water level remains the same, the bass will be more vulnerable, if anything. Way behind the bushes, bass are protected, the water’s warmer and there’s plenty of food.
And, I’m pretty certain, there won’t be hay grass 7 to 8 feet deep, maybe 18 inches to 2 feet deep if the water comes up about a foot from what it is now.
There could be some fair to good bassin’ in the bushes, particularly up north, but right now the water’s at the base of most cypress trees, and I really don’t expect there to be a lot of water in the bushes elsewhere.
The inside grass line should be in 4- to 5-foot depths, so that’s where bass will be. It’s just a matter of the right conditions and water temperature triggering the first wave of bass to spawn, usually predicated on the full moon in March.
Unseasonably late cold fronts push back the spawn. Mother Nature holds all the cards.
This lake’s big ol’ bass, though, don’t need the right conditions and water temperatures to spawn. If a big girl’s ready to squat, whether the temperature is ready or not, she’ll pull up on a bed and spawn.
So even in late February and especially in early March, don’t be surprised to find 5-pound and heavier bass up on beds before the others.
If they’re biologically ready, they’ll go.
And that’s where the fun begins. When bass are in that fanned-out circle, it’s time to go with the soft plastics such as wacky worms, tubes, Senkos and Flukes in green pumpkin or watermelon/red. Similarly colored soft plastics on Carolina rigs are deadly.
If the water’s warm enough and the fish are up shallow, plastic frogs and maybe even buzz baits can trigger some strikes.
To target moving fish more — the ones coming or going — feed them ½-ounce red or gold Rat-L-Traps, ½-ounce golden bream-colored spinnerbaits or gold/orange Rogues or Redfins.
Another proven horizontal moving bait is the A Rig, which I wrote about in the last issue. It is very effective fished shallow or slow-rolled on deep points.
While you’re fishing for bass and get tap after tap but no taker on a spinnerbait, you might want to have a combo rigged up with a Roadrunner.
White perch will be up in the shallows with the bass. I’ve already seen three to four big ol’ white perch flip on the top each time out the past two weeks. You can catch a bunch, but most often they’re scattered.
They can be caught on purple/gold, black/chartreuse and pink/white Roadrunners and similarly colored 2-inch Wedgetail Minnows.
I’ll tell you, the white perch that go into the ice chest this month are bigger on average than other times of the year. There will be a lot of 1 ¼-, 1 ½- and, even, 2-pound white perch caught.
Overall, this could be a magical time on the water. I hope it is.
For up-to-the minute information on bass fishing at Toledo Bend, go to johndeanjrfishing.com.
If you’d like to learn more about fishing for bass here in the spring and early summer, come fishing with me. I have been guiding for years on Toledo Bend. Call 936-404-2688.