Warming is slowly happening but there is a long way to go. Today the early morning water temperature finally registered at 50 F. Temperatures have consistently been below 50 for first two weeks of March.
However, on warm, calm March afternoons, water temperature may rise to 55 degrees in isolated spots which can quickly be erased with the slightest light breeze. The end result is that warm water fish are still hunkered down waiting for the 60-70 degree water they crave.
Fishing is slow in cold water but still worth it. The bass tournament held at Bullfrog over the weekend is a good example. Bass fishing was slow but after many casts and covering much shoreline the end results were terrific.
Bass anglers really like to catch big largemouth bass and they did. The winning weight for the team with the heaviest 10 fish in the 2-day event was 38 pounds (3.8 pounds average per fish). Individually, largemouth bass weighing 4, 5 and 6 pounds were caught. Bass anglers pounded the shoreline and found bass on the main outside points more often than in the very backs of the coves.
Colored water was better than clear water. Best baits were Yamamoto Senkos and single and double tail plastic baits fished slowly along the bottom and near brushy cover.
Stripers are acting a bit confused with warming water as well. Schools have been in deep water resting on the bottom in 60 to 100 feet most of the winter. These deep fish were catchable on spoons but recently the schools have moved to new, unknown locations. Some stripers have recently been found in 15-40 feet in the backs of canyons with significant water color. Shallow stripers can be caught sporadically while trolling and casting lures that dive from 7-20 feet. My best lure is the LC Pointer XD 78 in chartreuse shad color that dives 10-12 feet.
Others have been successful with Norman deep divers (20 feet) in chartreuse color. Like bass anglers, striper chasers have to cover a lot of water to catch a few fish.
While trolling we have seen many striper groups (not schools) normally resting on the breaking edge where depth quickly drops from 15 to 30 or 40 feet.
We caught stripers most consistently after retracing our trolling route back to where the first fish was caught. The next fish often hit right where the first fish was caught near a ledge, boulder or depth change. Trolling in the back of the canyon in a circular pattern was better than trolling in a straight line in open water. We stopped on many striper groups and dropped spoons which were ignored.
The message here is to try many different options at the beginning of the day. Eliminate those techniques that are not working and concentrate on those that catch stripers. We graph, troll, cast and spoon in each spot trying to find the best technique for the day and then concentrate on the one that works. It is best to have three different rods rigged with spoons, plastic grubs and crankbaits so the terminal tackle does not have to be retied at each new cove or bay. There are many striper schools that have not been located so they may be found somewhere between the deep water where they spent the winter and the backs of canyon where more shad can be found. Please report new striper information and I will continue to report the results of my fishing events. As of now, no reports have been received about stripers being caught on bait in the main channel. All reported striper activity is in the backs of canyons in colored water. That may change but for now look for stripers in the canyons. The best news is that the vast majority of stripers are fat and healthy. Those fish normally stay in the canyons while thin fish head for the channel. Fat, healthy fish are harder to find and catch but are a great prize when found.
Some walleye have begun to spawn now with slight warming but the main spawning event is still to come. Expect walleye to be caught in larger numbers beginning in April. That catch will peak in May.
Largemouth bass are catchable with consistent effort on main canyon points. Smallmouth bass are still mostly dormant with a short flurry of activity on a warm afternoon when water temperature exceeds 57 degrees. Catfish and bluegill are waiting for warmer water before joining in on the fun.