There really isn’t a bad month to fish for largemouth bass in Florida. It’s just a matter of picking the water body that is enjoying seasonal peak conditions, and then applying the most effective techniques.
Here are five spots, and the techniques to fish them, that can make this April a memorable one.
At over 37,000 acres, Lake Seminole could be considered a pretty big lake. But, this month, anglers want to think smaller.
There are many sheltered backwater areas on this lake and they warm far more quickly than main lake, or flowing river areas. In an unusually warm winter, some may begin to warm to proper spawning temperatures as early as February, although most don’t reach those temperatures until March. Regardless of when they warm, anglers can expect them to hold a lot of bass this month!
The waters along the shore of the Apalachee Wildlife Management Area on the western boundary of the reservoir, and west of State Route 271, normally warm first. Some bass may even be spawning in late January.
From there, the spawning activity moves eastward from February on. These eastern backwaters include the Ranger Station Tract; the area around Island Point and the waters behind it in Cypress, Hickory and Turkey Ponds; the entire Fish Pond Drain area; the Georgia Duck Refuge; the backwaters around Perkins and Fort Scott Islands along the Flint River; the Ten Mile Still Landing area; and the numerous backwaters off of the Chattahoochee River.
Some of these areas have deeper holes that form year-round habitat, while others are only used seasonally during the spawn. Regardless, many main-lake bass migrate to and from them during the spawn. In April, some are spawning, while others have finished and be moving back to the main lake. The pathways they use are where anglers want to be!
“There may be a lot of entrance points to these backwater areas,” said veteran guide Mike Sloan, “but the ones I want to key on are the deeper main channels that connect them with the main lake”.
Bass moving into the spawning areas stage predictably along points and sandbars bordering the channels. Once in the spawning areas, those deeper channels and cuts become their refuge points, when they are not actually on the beds. Once the spawn is over, the bass reverse that migration as they move back to the main lake using the same pathways they used to get there.
“Bass tend to stack up during these migrations, “ Sloan noted, “ and when you find one you normally find a bunch. It’s not a matter of fishing 200 yards of channel edge and catching a bass every 100 yards. They are in bunches and I want to move fast to locate them.”
Among his favorite locating lures are countdown crankbaits, like a Rat-L-Trap in Rayburn red, if cover permits. In vegetation a 1/2-ounce spinnerbait with a white skirt, and a tandem gold willowleaf rear and nickel Colorado front blade, serves the same purpose.
Along most channels, grass, lily pads and wood are the dominant cover. But, there is one other cover Sloan looks for.
“Hydrilla won’t have surfaced out yet,” Sloan said ”but there will be submerged patches and the bass love those. You’ll have to find it with a depthfinder, but when I do I’ll cover it thoroughly with the faster baits first, and then when the bite slows I’ll shift to a Senko in green pumpkin or watermelon red.”
To contact Mike Sloan, call Wingate’s Lodge (229) 246-0658.