Toledo Bend bass need more water in prime spawning spots

Mike Randolph, a friend who fishes with John Dean, holds a 7.49-pound bass he caught Jan. 1 in the Solon’s area on a Whopper Plopper. Dean said if the water temperature warms into the high 60s or low 70s in March, the topwater bite will be on again.

Sitting here watching the wind-whipped waves on a really chilly day from the comfort of my home on the Louisiana side of Toledo Bend, I’m doing what many bass anglers do when it’s still cold — dreaming about catchin’ ‘em here during the spawn in March.

I’m looking forward to it. I’m sure everybody on the planet is. The days of chunkin’ and windin’ moving baits, like lipless crankbaits and bladed jigs, give way to flippin’ n pitchin’ soft plastics. We’ve just got to get to that point because right now, it ain’t yet.

We’re all hopeful the lake rises in the next few weeks from the 168.86 level it’s been at a long time. It’s low, but has been inching up slowly. If we could even get to 170 (or higher) that would help a lot because we’re a foot and a half away from where we can say there is more cover with water in the bushes. Many bass have been on the move transitioning in a prespawn mode. When it’s time they’ll sit down and spawn. The key to catching them and where to catch them then will hinge on water temperatures and water level.

It’s a time when nearly every bass boat on the lake will be in five foot depths or less. But will the bass be around the bushes as they typically are? We still need three to four feet of water and we could easily get that. I’ve seen the lake rise a foot a day after some storm systems dump 7 to 8 inches of rain on the region and this is the time we often see cold fronts with that capability. We’ll see.

They’ll find a place

Whatever water level the lake is at, when it’s bass baby making time, Mother Nature takes over when it’s time for the bass to spawn. They’ll crawl up and go somewhere, even if it’s on top of a stump or other cover on the bottom if the lake continues being lower than usual.

When the fish lock down for the spawn, it’ll also be time to change from lipless crankbaits and bladeless jigs to soft plastics — Carolina rigged, Neko rigged, wacky rigged — like Flukes, wacky or trick worms and Senkos. Top colors should be watermelon or green pumpkin based colors. If there’s a stain to the water you’re fishing, switch to a darker color like black, which is effective in any water clarity.

I’ll be throwing a lot of C-Rigs. I stay mostly with Power Pro 40-pound braid on the main line and three foot leader unless the water’s clear, then I might switch to 15- or 17-pound fluorocarbon line. Generally, I use a ¾-ounce weight even in three to four foot depths because a heavier weight is more of an attention getter, creating more of a disturbance as it is dragged over the bottom.

Speaking of weights, if you’re dragging a C-Rig and get a heckuva hit, swing on it and come up empty handed, it might be because the weight gets on the bed before the soft plastic and the bass responds accordingly and goes after the weight. Either go back with the C-Rig or try dead-sticking a soft plastic where you had the bite.

Topwater time?

If, and it could be a big “if,” water temperatures rise into the 70s in March, which could happen with lots of sunshine and fewer or no cold fronts, it’s Katie bar the door — topwater time. Bass, particularly the big’uns, often crush a plastic frog, Spro or Top Toad, and other topwaters like Chug Bugs and Super Spooks. But it may be a bit early.

Speaking of big’uns, March and April should be a banner period for getting 10-plus-pound bass on the business end of your fishing line. Sure, there are lots of two to four pounders, but “trophy bass” time is fast approaching.

And crappie will be shallower right alongside the bass — big crappie full of roe. Tube jigs get the nod over shiners at this time. And if you’re bass fishing and getting bit four or five times without connecting, pick up a crappie rig and catch a half-dozen or so because those misses usually are a tell-tale sign of crappie bites.

Have a great March!

 I’ve been guiding on this lake most of my life and you’re welcome in my boat. March is a high-percentage month to catch a bragging-size bass. Give me a call at (936) 404-2688.

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About John Dean 75 Articles
John Dean has been guiding on Toledo Bend most of his life. If you’d like to join him on a trip, give him a call at (936) 404-2688.

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