March is a great time to catch very big largemouth bass as the water warms.
By: Bill Cooper
Water temperatures heat up considerably by mid-March in the Midwest and largemouth bass go on the prowl.
Being cold-blooded creatures, their metabolism increases as their environment warms.
A few degrees increase in water temperature can make a big difference in the feeding modes for bass.
They have been lethargic all winter. Often, when feeding increases, largemouth bass appear to be like kids in a candy store.
They just can’t get enough to eat.
The truth of the matter is that anglers often do not have to exaggerate about March bass.
Many fishermen catch their largest bass of the year in early March, year in and year out.
Small farm ponds are great places to prospect for early bass.
These small bodies of water heat up quicker than large lakes and kick bass into the feeding mode sooner.
Anything that absorbs heat and transfers that heat into the water increases the water temperature a few degrees.
Structures such as downed trees, stickups, and rock rubble are among the best. Fish them first.
Anglers are often surprised by vicious strikes on their first cast around such structure.
Farm ponds and small lakes often hide exceptionally large bass.
Many times there are only a couple of really big fish in such ponds.
Develop the habit of fishing these kinds of waters only in March, just to catch the big ones.
Release them and you insure yourself the opportunity to catch them again the following March.
On big lakes, rock rubble, or large boulders, are a great beginning spot to search for hungry largemouths.
Dale Goff, a highly successful tournament fisherman, fishes Lake of the Ozarks, in mid-Missouri, every March.
He owns a condo at the lake’s edge. A large cove lays out the back door. He fishes for hours without leaving that cove.
He’s caught many bass there, with the largest going over six pounds.
“I have been doing this for years,” Goff commented. “It is still pretty cold in early March and a lot of people don’t like to fish in these conditions. However, I discovered a long time ago that I could catch big bass around these big rocks in March. The rocks in shallow water absorb the heat. If it stays sunny for several days, the fishing really gets good. The heat stays in the rocks for several days, even if it does cloud up. Warming rocks equals hot fishing.”
March is spinnerbait time. Spinnerbaits provides the undoing of lots of early season bass.
Slow rolling is a technique that has been around for a long time. Large, white spinnerbaits, with silver blades seem to work best.
The bait imitates shad or schooling bait fish. Slowly retrieving the bait near the bottom is very effective.
Pausing often, to allow the bait to drop, is often more than a large bass can stand.
Speed of retrieve is determined by experimentation. Generally, the warmer the water, the faster the retrieve needs to be.
Strikes often vary widely as well. If bass are still lethargic, the bait may just stop until the fish slowly moves off with it. If water temperatures are warmer, strikes can be powerful.
Don’t let March get by without trying your local pond or small lake for largemouth bass. If possible, begin your search in early March. If the sun is shining on a north bank, hit it first.
The water there will be several degrees warmer.
Be sure to spool your reel with new line, and go with 12-pound test or larger. You wouldn’t want that bass of a lifetime to break off.
Bill Cooper hails from the Missouri Ozarks and has written over 2,000 fishing articles. He is a member of the National Fresh Water Fishing Hall of Fame.