Ponds and Small Lakes First to Warm up In Spring

Ponds and Small Lakes First to Warm up In Spring
Stephanie Brandt, fisheries biologist for the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources, holds a largemouth bass captured during population sampling on 96-acre Corinth Lake in Grant County.

FRANKFORT, Ky. – Rapidly changing weather can play havoc on early spring fishing.

The possibility of cold fronts, rain and sunny afternoons, all in one week, often make it difficult to correctly time a fishing trip. But, the one true constant of spring fishing is that ponds and small lakes warm up before larger bodies of water.

Chris Hickey, black bass biologist for the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources, said the size of the pond or lake and the clarity of its water are factors in how fast these waterbodies warm up.

“The smaller they are, the less water there is to warm up,” said Hickey. “The more fertile lakes, the ones that we refer to as having green water, have a tendency to warm up earlier than clear lakes, which have relatively low fertility.”


A warm rain always seems to turn on spring bass, especially in small ponds. Runoff washes in food and the plume of colored water offers bass some security, so they can move up shallow to feed.


“When it’s still cold, they need the warm water to get their motor running, to stimulate those pre-spawn feeding binges,” explained Hickey.


Compared to major reservoirs, ponds and small lakes aren’t as dramatically affected by heavy rainfall because they don’t have large drainage areas. Hickey said the relatively stable water levels in ponds and small lakes lead to more consistent reproduction. “Bass on the nest don’t have to deal with fluctuating water levels that may cause them to lose their spawn,” he said.

Generally, male bass move up shallow when water temperatures climb into the 50s. The females follow them when water temperatures hit 60 to 62 degrees. The largest female bass spawn first. All spawning activity ceases when water temperatures rise to about 78 degrees, even if some females still have not dropped their eggs.

Kentucky’s small lakes tend to be overlooked by bass anglers in the early spring.


Hickey said a list of small lakes that offer good bass fishing in the spring includes: Lake Beshear, Guist Creek Lake, Kincaid Lake, Elmer Davis Lake, Greenbo Lake and Lake Malone.

“Elmer Davis and Kincaid Lake are chock full of quality bass in the three-to-four-pound range,” said Hickey.

There’s a lot to like about small water fishing, too. There are plenty of places to fish from the bank. Ponds and small lakes are ideal for canoes, kayaks, cartop johnboats and even float tubes.


Dams, especially those covered with rip-rap, tend to hold bass in the spring. Rocks warmed by the sun heat up the water and bass are looking for suitable spawning substrate.

Log on to the Kentucky Fish and Wildlife webpage at fw.ky.gov and click on Fishing and Boating, then Where to Fish to find the closest small lake.

The license year expired Feb. 28, 2013. You’ll need to buy a new fishing license, available in the sporting goods section of department stores and tackle shops, to fish now. Licenses and permits may also be purchased online from the Kentucky Fish and Wildlife homepage at fw.ky.gov or by calling 1-877-598-2401. The entire Spring Fishing Frenzy series will be posted at this same website for future access to these articles.

Author Art Lander Jr. has been writing about the outdoors since the 1970s. He is a staff writer for Kentucky Afield Magazine.

The Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources manages, regulates, enforces and promotes responsible use of all fish and wildlife species, their habitats, public wildlife areas and waterways for the benefit of those resources and for public enjoyment. Kentucky Fish and Wildlife is an agency of the Tourism, Arts and Heritage Cabinet. For more information on the department, visit our website at fw.ky.gov.

Recommended for You

We're told to pay attention to the lunar phases. What do bass pros think? Bass

MLF Pros: What's With the Moon?

G&F Online Staff

We're told to pay attention to the lunar phases. What do bass pros think?

Crankbaits mimic exactly what they eat when hungry — other fish! Bass

Baitfish for Bass: Search, Suspend or Sink Crankbaits

Jason Houser - May 21, 2019

Crankbaits mimic exactly what they eat when hungry — other fish!

When all else fails, here's what these pros tie on. Bass

MLF Pros: What's Your Go-To Lure?

G&F Online Staff - May 20, 2019

When all else fails, here's what these pros tie on.

See More Recommendations

Popular Videos

Costa

Costa's Award Winning Waterwoman Sunglasses

Costa's Amanda Sabin tells OSG's Lynn Burkhead about all of the great features that made the new Waterwoman frame a big winner at the 2019 ICAST show as well as out on the water.

Electric Filet Knife from Bubba Blades

Electric Filet Knife from Bubba Blades

As OSG's Lynn Burkhead looks on, Josh Neville shows off the cordless and corded versions of a new electric filet knife from Bubba Blades.

13 Fishing Inception SZ

13 Fishing Inception SZ

Florida angling pro Jessie Mizell knows that the saltwater found in Sunshine State coastal fisheries can wreak havoc on even the best fishing gear. But with 13 Fishing's new feature laden Inception SZ saltwater baitcasting reel, tackling inshore and light tackle saltwater game fish just got a whole lot easier!

See more Popular Videos

Trending Stories

 Veteran bass anglers often dismiss urban fishing opportunities as Bass

Bass Pond Fishing: Catch Lunkers at Small Lakes Near You

Dan Anderson - February 13, 2018

Veteran bass anglers often dismiss urban fishing opportunities as "kid's fishing ponds," but...

Who needs live bait when the big 'gills are so eager to strike these lures? Other Freshwater

5 Great Lures For Bluegills

Stephen D. Carpenteri - March 10, 2011

Who needs live bait when the big 'gills are so eager to strike these lures?

The colder waters of early spring are prime times to use bait rigs for stripers. Other Freshwater

3 Deadly Bait Rigs For Stripers

J.B. Kasper - April 21, 2005

The colder waters of early spring are prime times to use bait rigs for stripers.

See More Stories

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Temporary Price Reduction

SUBSCRIBE NOW

Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services

PREVIEW THIS MONTH'S ISSUE

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.