April 21, 2010
Lake Elevation: 3618                               
Water Temp:    58-66 F  

Bass Spawn is ON!


Largemouth Bass hovers over rock nest at base of bush

Bass moved onto nests in shallow, clear water over the weekend. Those lucky enough to be on the lake were treated to an amazing visual display of largemouth bass in 2 feet of water in virtually every canyon on the lake. Some may have missed the event because fish were so shallow they may not have looked at the last few of water behind the row of flooded brush that rings the lake. Largemouth bass consistently build nests at the base of a bush making it even harder to see. But once the first nest is detected they are much easier to find in similar locations

Spawning is triggered when water temperature stays warm overnight and then peaks at 64 degrees after a prolonged calm weather period. Those conditions happened last week with the pleasant weather that prevailed. As this report is written bass have been on the nests 5 days which is the normal amount of time required for eggs to hatch. The looming storm front now will cool the water and move bass off nests. They will remain in close proximity but will not actively guard the nest. When water warms again bass will reoccupy the same nest, spawn a new batch of eggs, and begin the process again.

The second spawn will be more difficult to view as rising lake water level makes the deeper nest less visible. Rising water causes bank sloughing and dirties the water in the shallows further limiting visibility. During May the original nest site may be occupied by the same fish on the third or fourth spawn but water depth over the nest may be as deep as 15-20 feet depending on runoff volume.

Warming sent crappie into the trees to spawn right along with largemouth bass. It is common now to see bass hovering over a nest with crappie hiding in the same brush thicket. Smallmouth bass are building nests along open rock shore line without brush protection. Spawning is in full production now and will continue through the first week of May.

Catching spawning fish is tough if they see you coming. But a long cast with a slow sinking bait like a weightless Senko is more than they stand. Any subtle movement near the nest will be investigated with the offending morsel picked up and moved off the nest site. Remember to return the male nest guardian so the developing eggs and fry will be protected from predation. Next years bass and crappie population depends on survival from nests now in production.

Stripers have responded to warming by moving shallower to look for food. Trolling is still a good way to locate mobile fish but they may be in clear water along the edge of deep water just as often as in the back. During cool weather or in the mornings, casting jerk baits along rocky points or brush lines is very effective once fish are located. Find a school one day and it is very likely that they will return to the same spot at about the same time each day. Understanding their schedule allows one to stay close to a school as they move vertically and horizontally through the daily cycle.

Walleye catch is increasing as bonus fish are caught while trolling or casting for bass and stripers.