Toledo Bend’s March magic

John Dean III of Olathe, Kansas, holds a big bass that bit on a Carolina-rigged Fluke in March 2022 at Toledo Bend. He was fishing with his dad, fishing guide John Dean.

Full lake, renewed grass patches have anglers expecting big spawn

We’re all 100 percent aware of what’s going to happen this spring at Toledo Bend.

The spring spawn is a magical time, a heavenly time, for bass anglers young and old. It’s a time that quickens the blood with every cast and soaking of a soft plastic in and around a bedding bass. It’s the time bass anglers dream of during the cold winter months.

What we all don’t know for certain is when the spawn’s going to crank up.

That’s because it hinges on much warmer water temperatures than we experienced earlier this year, especially around the first of February.

But when it’s right, wave after wave of bass lay, fertilize and hatch eggs when the water warms, typically from the mid-60s to mid-70s.

The spawn could have begun in late February for some bass and for sure in March. All bass don’t spawn at the same time, so there could be several weeks of peak spawning season on this big lake.

Welcome back

There are a couple of plusses that have been missing a lot in recent history. First, Toledo Bend will have plenty of water in it. And second, for the first time in many years, there is quite a bit of hydrilla, particularly along the western shoreline. The pool stage has been steadily rising and with some big rains already and more on the way, the lake could be at full pool at 172.0.

Unfortunately, more unstable weather is likely in the mix. That’s why it is impossible to predict the spawn without going out on the lake and finding out. Warm nights as well as warm days are necessary because overnight temperatures must maintain/hold daytime temperatures.

Grass has returned at Toledo Bend — more so on the Texas side in Indian Creek, Six Mile, Housen, Jesse Lowe Bay, Palo Gaucho, Carrice Creek  and Patroon Bayou — and that right there puts this year’s spawn in a different light.

It’s something we have been without during the spawn since mid-2010s.

So I’ll be sight fishing, but in a different way than others. I look for bare spots, dirt spots, rather than the bass itself, because I’ll run across a bass sooner or later. Bass usually will be in a hole in the grass or between the shoreline and the grass.

My No. 1 bait will be a Carolina-rigged soft plastic in watermelon/red, green pumpkin/red, watermelon/red, Junebug/red, etc. See the pattern? Red flakes, for sure, or, even purple.

Cast to open areas inside a grassy area and s-l-o-w-l-y retrieve. When you feel resistance, get ready as you’ve reached the grass where bass generally set up on points, sandy underwater hilltops and ridges.

No. 2 is a soft plastic jerkbait, Fluke or Senko. Soak those as long as possible … dead stick them when fish start sitting on their beds. Or a soft plastic salt stick on a Neko rig will work. Put either on a spot and let it sit there.

Different stages

As I said earlier, bass are in different stages of the spawn — pre-spawn, spawn and post-spawn in late February, March and into April. Remember, again, bass don’t all come in at the same time. There are also those that are staging before and after the spawn.

But back to that grass. While on the move looking for bare spots, keep a moving bait at the ready, either a suspended jerkbait such as a gold/orange Smithwick Rogue, a lipless cran bait such as a 3/4-ounce red Rat-L-Trap or a reddish-hued or black/blue bladed jig such as a Delta Lures Thunder Jig.

Crappie will be moving shallow, too, where they can be caught on tube jigs, your favorite artificials and minnows.

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. And it’s a great time to stock up on great ingredients for a fish fry, courtesy of the lake’s tasty crappie. Give me a call at (936) 404-2688.

About John Dean 86 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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