The timing couldn’t be much worse.
After two straight days with highs in the 70s leading up to Thursday’s highly-anticipated March full moon, Mother Nature is pulling the rug out from under eager bass anglers hoping to catch some early-spawners shallow on Toledo Bend.
A strong cold front is about to barrel through the state later this afternoon, and the forecast for Toledo Bend calls for freezing drizzle in the morning with a low of 25 accompanied by 20 mph winds from the north, with the high Thursday only reaching 35 degrees.
“It’s definitely going to have an impact,” said Toledo Bend guide Joe Joslin, with Joe Joslin Outdoors. “On the south end, I don’t think we’re hardly going to have any kind of spawn on this full moon since it’s so early in the month.
“We’ve been catching fish shallow for a while, and a lot of them obviously have eggs in them, but we’ve had a little bit of a warm up and then we’ll have a monster cold front - and that’s what we’ve got coming. They’re saying tonight late we might have freezing precip here.”
Water temperatures have hovered in the neighborhood of 50 degrees recently, and that’s a number anglers heading to the Bend this weekend might be happy to see.
“In my opinion, by the time most weekend anglers get to the lake Saturday morning, they’ll be looking at water temperatures at the warmest of 50 degrees,” he said. “My better guess would be 48 degrees Saturday morning.”
By Saturday though, at least some time will have passed after the front, and a high in the mid-50s is forecasted.
“The fish are loaded with eggs and they’re wanting to come shallow,” Joslin said. “So by Saturday, conditions, with 10 being excellent and one being horrible, I’d say Saturday will be a five or six.”
Joslin said his best bait over the last two weeks is a Zombie Shad Rat-L-Trap in Rayburn red. He’s also had success with white or white-and-chartreuse spinnerbaits.
“When it’s cloudy, I’m using double willows on a 1/4- to 1/2-ounce on tough days, letting it get down and slow rolling it,” he said. “And I like to have at least one of those willow blades in gold.
“There’s been some nice fish caught on spinnerbaits.”
Joslin said he’s been targeting grass lines where the vegetation is a little more scattered in 6- to about 18-feet of water.
“I’ve actually been catching better in areas of scattered grass as opposed to really, really thick grass,” he said. “It seems like I’m catching better fish, and I put a good bit of effort into trying to find those spots.”
Joslin also said he’s had some luck with Texas rigs, but he’s not using a heavy sinker.
“I’m using about 3/16, and if it’s windy, no heavier than a 1/4-ounce weight,” he said.
North of the bridge, Joslin suggested Chatterbaits, Rat-L-Traps or spinnerbaits this weekend.
“They may want to go with a Colorado leaf up there,” he said. “It gives a little more vibration out in that stained water than the willow leaf does.”
He predicted the April full moon, set for Saturday, April 4, will be gangbusters, and the spawn should continue into May.
“With that full moon early all spring, we’ll have fishing spawning in May, too - no doubt about it,” he said. “But this year it looks like April is going to be the time that most of the fish on the south end spawn."