MARCH  2, 2005
By Wayne Gustaveson
Lake Elevation: 3559
Water Temperature: 50-53 F

The first significant warming of Spring occurred over the weekend.  That means there was a detectable temperature difference between certain areas of the lake.  Let me assure you that cold-blooded bass can tell when the water starts to warm. A one-degree temperature gradient may spell the difference between catching lots of fish and not so many.  

The details:  Water temperature over most of the lake is 50 in the morning and rises to 52 by afternoon.  In most canyons there will be a favored location where water is warmer.  Find the warm spot and fish will be there. The elements causing a warm spot are water color, sun exposure and protection. 

Water colored by plankton, algae and/or suspended sediment is some shade of green or brown when compared to the clear blue water in the main channel. The suns rays are absorbed better by colored water causing better heat retention.  Murky water will be warmer than clear water in the spring time before runoff begins. 

Sun shining directly on a rock wall rising from the water, causes more warming than from a rock wall that is partially shaded.    Look for spots with a sunny exposure in the afternoon when the suns rays are strongest. 

Last, find a cove where colder water from the main channel cannot funnel directly into the cove. A sheltered cove at a right angle to the wind direction that inhibits mixing with main channel water will retain the thin warm layer and concentrate fish.

Ron and Sheridan Colby with striper caught spooning on bottom under a school of 2-pound stripers.  Note the green water color depicting warmer water than found in the main channel.

Find a warm spot and bass will be close by during March. Right now that warm spot is only 53-55 degrees. Warm water is only a thin surface layer so bass will come shallow to seek the heat. Later in the month the main lake will warm to 54 degrees and the warm spots will be as much as 6 degrees warmer.  

This week bass will be close to the steep wall warmed by the sun and protected from the cooler main lake.  That means coves instead of channel.   Flip weedless plastic or pork with short casts to the rock wall.  Drag crank baits across points or along walls to find bass.

 As the lake gets warmer bass will move up on sandy flats and sun themselves near old stumps, stickups or tumbleweeds.

 Striped bass are drawn from the depths as the water surface warms.  Shad have not moved yet and are still deep probably 60-90 feet deep. Schools of 1-3 pound stripers are searching mid depths and probing but not finding food.  Schooling fish seen on the graph now are most likely stripers. A mid depth scouting striper school will show up with separation between individual fish targets.  When a school is seen on the graph, react quickly by spooning, casting or trolling. Get the school started and they will stay with the bait and even follow the boat for a short distance.

 Bigger stripers are still on the bottom but are aware of the school activity above them.  Letting a spoon fall below an active school of mid depth stripers is the secret to catching larger striped bass.

 Spring warming heralds the beginning of a great year of fishing predicted for 2005.  Bass and stripers are being caught right now on warm afternoons.