By Terry Lacoss
The first day of spring arrives on March 20th and with good timing for those freshwater fishermen that wish to catch a bass of a lifetime. Also include that a full moon arrives on March 31st, which affords for perfect spawning conditions for female largemouth bass that can weigh over the ten pound mark.
Typically the largemouth bass spawn begins in late January and runs right through the month of May, which all depends on weather conditions. This winter has been very cold bringing water temperatures down into the low 40’s in some cases. With this in mind seasoned bass fishermen believe the annual bass spawn may be delayed a week or so this winter.
Seasoned bass angler Gary Pittman looks for the best late winter and spring bass fishing to come during the afternoon hours when male bass have moved off from the beds and larger female bass move onto the beds to spawn. Clear water is critical during the early spawning season as clean water typically warms up faster than stained water.
“Every trophy bass has its own personality,” Gary Pittman explains. “That’s why I carry a variety of bass tackle on board my fishing boat, including spinning and casting tackle. I prefer the fluorocarbon fishing lines testing from ten to twenty pound test. I also bass fish with a variety of bass lures, however the plastic tube lure has to be my favorite in the shad, white, or purple color patterns. A second choice would be a plastic crawfish in the same color patterns. I rig the soft plastic lures with a 5/0 bass hook and depending on the bass cover, attach a 3/16 to 1-ounce bullet weight onto my bass line. Obviously the thicker the cover, the heavier the worm weight I will pitch with.”
One of Gary Pittman’s successful trophy bass fishing techniques includes pitching weighted jigs and plastic baits into small open pockets of water in the grass. Some of his best trophy bass fishing comes from shallow sloughs off from the river and bass lake shorelines that harbor shallow sandy weed bottoms. White colored rubber skirted jigs work best as fishermen can actually see the lure better when fished in heavy cover and when a big bass strikes the bait too.
It’s a great idea to hook up your bass boat and do some traveling to some of Florida’s best winter bass destinations where bass fishing is currently on fire!
One of the very best late winter and early bass fishing takes place along the west shoreline of Lake George and in Salt Run that actually feeds Lake George at its northwest corner.
Rodman reservoir should also harbor excellent trophy bass fishing during the next few months. However don’t overlook many of Northeast Florida’s freshwater tidal rivers where bass weighing to 12-pounds are often caught during late winter and right through the month of May. Look for some of the best bass fishing in Thomas’ Creek to come at the mouth where it intersects with Boggy Creek and two miles up this back country bass river. Fish the weedy river edges with white spinner baits, and with floating plastic worms in the “Moccasin” color pattern during high tide periods. During low tide, work deep diving crank baits in the deep bends of the river.
One of my all-time favorite late winter and spring trophy bass waters is located only five-miles west of Amelia Island. Lofton Creek offers deep river turns where shallow creeks intersect this popular bass river. Fishing wild shiners under a small float at key ambush points located in the mouths of these small feeder creeks is key when hooking up to some of Northeast Florida’ best winter and spring bass fishing. Be sure and use a weedless hook as your wild shiner is likely to swim into a fallen tree limb and snag your expensive shiner. Look for some of the best trophy bass fishing to come in a stretch of Lofton Creek beginning at the Sr-200 bridge all the way south to where power lines cross the river. A convenient boat ramp and park offers easy access for all types of fishing boats.
Be sure and take several photos of your trophy bass, take measurements of the length and girth and release your catch. Catch and release bass mounts are now available and look better than the real bass mount. Releasing your trophy bass will give you the satisfaction that your catch of a lifetime will not only produce trophy bass, but will also test the skills of bass fishermen for years to come.
The “Jacksonville Offshore Fishing Club” will hold its “Annual El Cheap-O” sheepshead tournament on March 3rd. the largest sheepshead will be worth a $75,000.00 Carolina Skiff boat, Suzuki outboard and Magic Tilt trailer. For more information please visit www.elcheapo.com.