March weather can be tempestuous, but with bass flocking to the shallows for their annual spawn it can also be the hottest fishing month of the year. Here’s a look at six lakes scattered around the state that should offer some of the best bassin’ this month!
One of the best off shore structure lakes in Florida, Talquin’s abundant crop of largemouths will spend most of the year holding on the maze of deeper channel edges and submerged humps, making only occasional forays to shoreline points and flats.
All that changes this month.
The peak of the spawn on Talquin normally occurs in April, and like many lakes in the northern portion of the state, the spawn occurs in a compressed time period that may only lasts two months. Unlike the more southerly lakes, Talquin lacks extensive vegetated spawning cover.
The key spawning sites on Talquin are the creek arm coves and small bays. Without extensive grass flats bass will move in and spawn right on the shoreline. The bass’ migration to those shallow coves and creek arms doesn’t happen overnight, and is not random. Migration routes will be along channel edges leading to the outer points on the creek cove bays, and then into the bays themselves. The largemouths stage for days, or even a week, while they await favorable weather. When finished spawning, they reverse that movement.
The main-lake tapering points leading to the creek arm coves are a key pre-spawn structures this month. Early in the month look for bass to be making periodic foray to them from deeper water. Under warm weather conditions they may move all the way up to the shoreline early and late in the day.
Gaudy, large-bladed spinnerbaits and Texas-rigged plastic worms in green pumpkin, June bug, or black-and-blue can be very effective when worked along shoreline wood. Aggressive topwater plugs, such as the Zara Spook or Devil’s Horse, can sometimes be effective, if the bass are right on the top of the point.
“During the midday hours the fish will be holding somewhere farther down the point, “ said veteran guide Mike Mercuri. “A Carolina rig with a 3- to 4-foot leader is a great tool for covering the entire point to determine the depth they are holding. Another option is a countdown crankbait.
“I like to put the boat on the shallow end of the point, cast to the deep end, and walk the lure up the point; much like fishing a jig,” he concluded.
Contact Mike Mercuri at Whipporwill Sportsman’s Lodge by calling 1-850-876-2605, or 1-850-566-2221.
SANTA FE LAKE
Moving south, we come to the lake-rich Gainesville area, which, unfortunately, is suffering low water woes. Orange, Lochloosa and Newnans lakes recently have been too low to access with a bass boat, and Rodman reservoir is likely still low from its 2011 drawdown.
That leaves Santa Fe Lake, and while it is slightly low, that’s not bad. Low water on this lake is a boon to bassers, especially during the spawning season.
With a narrow littoral zone comprised primarily of maidencane and cypress trees, this lake has an extensive amount of water of more than 14 feet deep, and a lot deeper than 20 feet. Adding offshore shell bars and a maze of man-made brush piles to that, and you have a lake where bass spend a great deal of time offshore. At least, they do until the spawn arrives, but March is the peak of the spawn on this lake.
“Santa Fe is a wonderful lake in March,” said veteran angler Gary Simpson, who runs Gary’s Tackle Box in Gaineville. “If I could only fish this lake one month of the year, March would be it. All those deep water fish have to come to the ‘hill’ to spawn and they get a lot easier to find.”
There are two key locations this month — the outer edge of the maidencane that rings the lake, and the large stands of cypress trees on the south end of the lake. The maidencane edges will hold pre and post spawn bass, while open pockets inside will hold fish that are actually bedding.
Santa Fe is pretty much a worm and crankbait lake, and savvy anglers will parallel the outer maidencane edge with countdown crankbaits — like a Rat-L-Trap — jerkbaits, or lightly-weighted Texas-rigged 6-inch worms in June bug or green pumpkin over the edge. Open pockets inside the grass line are best handled with worms or Fluke-type soft plastics.
On the south end, running a high speed countdown crankbait is a quick way to find concentrations of bass that can then be more thoroughly fished with worms, Flukes, or Bomber Long A-type jerkbaits.
For more detail contact Gary Simpson at Gary’s Tackle Box in Gainesville by calling (352) 372-1791.