Water Temperature Dictates Spring Bass Fishing's Kick-Off

As mild late winter weather persists, the bass prespawn will kick off with rising water temperatures

Water Temperature Dictates Spring Bass Fishing's Kick-Off
Water Temperature Dictates Spring Bass Fishing's Kick-Off

According to the calendar, late winter should be in full command across much of the country, though a mild run of weather conditions would seem to indicate otherwise.

Meaning that if it hasn't already happened, spring is about to be sprung.

And that's good news to bass anglers cooped up with cabin fever all across the nation, fishermen eager to get after the big bass sows soon to be heading shallow for the spring spawn.

But in an angler's rush to get out onto a local big bass water, Major League Fishing cofounder Gary Klein cautions fishermen not to put the horse in front of the cart, so to speak.


"Sometimes, we have these really nice warm periods and we start fishing ahead of the fish," said Klein. "It gets warm out and we think that the bass are already up shallow when they aren't quite there yet."


Klein reminds anglers while the late winter air temperature is an important consideration for most anglers – when it's comfortable, we want to go fishing – springtime bass angling is really all about the water temperature.

"The water temperature is what I spend most of my attention on at this time of the year," said Klein, a Bassmaster Elite Series legend with 30 Bassmaster Classic appearances to go along with eight career wins on the B.A.S.S. tournament trail.

"What's really important is not just the water temperatures during a sunny day, but also those temperatures at night," he added. "I'm looking for water temperatures that are 47, 48 or 49 degrees in the morning and starting to rise."

When Klein finds that, he knows that a period of good late winter or early spring fishing is often not far behind.


"When you get a warming trend (at this time of the year) with air temperatures threatening to go into the 80s – especially when the water temp has been 49 or below for a month – then all of a sudden, it (the water temperature) jumps up (into the lower 50s and beyond)," he said.

When that happens, "... the fish are starting to think about it."

Even so, Klein reminds anglers that despite the mild weather in some areas, "... as far as the spawn goes, everything is controlled by Mother Nature and the bass' eggs still have to develop (in a lot of places)."


With the increasing photoperiod and the approach of the dark of the moon and full moon cycles of late winter and early spring, the spawn is quickly approaching go-time from a biological standpoint.

But the usual meteorological parade of alternating warm spells and cold fronts will also serve to influence how the bass fishing actually goes on a particular body of water on any given day.

For that reason, Klein says to focus intently on the current conditions, not what was going on a few days ago.

"When you go to a body of water, you've got to do your best to get dialed in to what is going on right now," he said.

To do that on the various lakes around Klein's home in Weatherford, Texas, there are a few things in particular – in addition to the water temperature – he will start looking for as he searches for bass staging up in the late prespawn period.

"I will pay attention to everything that is isolated from the wind, especially a north wind," he said. "I'm looking for areas where a south wind will warm it up.

"On a lot of lakes around Dallas/Fort Worth, you'll find a number of coves exposed to a north wind," added Klein, the 1989 and 1993 B.A.S.S. Angler of the Year.

"That's not something that I'll want to fish (right now). What I'm looking for are places that are closed off from north wind and probably exposed to south winds which can warm the water up (quicker)."

When Klein locates such a spot where bass are situating themselves in preparation to move shallow, he knows that he doesn't have to worry too much about bait selection right now as he does at other times of the year.

"What is so exciting about this time of the year is that you don't have to get too finessy with the fish," said the Texas pro who narrowly missed winning the Major League Fishing stop at Lake Ray Roberts a few years ago.

"During the prespawn, especially in these warmer trends, you can target bass with bigger baits," he said. "At this time of the year, you typically don't have to jack with the little baits because they want something that moves some water around."

Why is that?

"The fish are starting to think about coming in to spawn and they are feeding up and are very territorial," said Klein. "They start killing all kinds of critters that come into their strike zone, pretty much whatever they can.

"And down through the years, it seems – to me at least – like they eat bigger baits better right now than they do after the spawn."

This means you'll find a selection of five Duckett Fishing rods on the front deck of Klein's tricked out Triton boat, power-fishing rods and not the finesse stuff that comes into play later on in the year.

And attached to the fishing line at the end of those rods will be such lures as a big single-bladed Colorado style spinnerbait; a 1/2-ounce black/blue jig with a Chigger Craw on the backend; a red lipless crankbait; a squarebill crankbait; and believe it or not, a buzzbait.

The bottom line for Klein right now at the end of wintertime is that the best fishing of the year might not actually be at hand just yet on a nearby lake or reservoir, at least not in terms of numbers.

But that top-end fishing usually isn't too far away either as winter begins to fade towards spring.

And besides, even if the overall daily numbers game isn't as good right now as it will be in the very near future, the chance to stick a real giant is always there in the late winter prespawn as bass stage up to go shallow.

"This is the time of the year where numbers aren't very high, but the quality (usually) is," said Klein. "You might fish all day long for just three or four or five bites.

"But one of those bites might be a really big fish."

A Texas-size lunker, the kind that helped lure Klein to the Lone Star State from his native California a number of years ago.

The kind of fish that can make an angler famous on the Internet fishing boards, if not helping them to win big bass honors at an early season tournament.

And the kind of fish that Klein has made a legendary career out of catching, fish that have propelled him to develop a Hall of Fame resume in a career that shows no signs of winding down just yet.

Because for Klein, there are still more goals to achieve in professional bass fishing – like winning a MLF Summit or Challenge Cup – and there are still more big fish to be caught, big bass that he can hold up high for the television cameras to see.

And that's plenty of reason to lure Gary Klein out onto a North Texas water body right now as El Nino ushers in an early spring.

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

Recommended Articles

See More Recommendations

Popular Videos

Costa and Captains for Clean Water

Costa and Captains for Clean Water

With the company's heavy involvement in initiatives like Kick the Plastic and Captains for Clean Water campaigns, Costa's Amanda Sabin tells OSG's Lynn Burkhead all about the sunglass maker's unwavering commitment to help the freshwater and saltwater environment.

Lowrance Enters Trolling-Motor Market with Ghost

Lowrance Enters Trolling-Motor Market with Ghost

Lowrance's Lucas Steward shows OSG's Lynn Burkhead what all of the fuss is about in the brand new Ghost trolling motor being brought to market by the Tulsa, Okla.-based fishing equipment manufacturer.

Berkley

Berkley's Surge Shad

Major League Fishing pro Scott Suggs has relied on the Berkley Surge Shad lure concept for years, using similar designs to capture MLF titles and a $1 million dollar FLW Forrest Cup win. With new features in the Surge Shad, Suggs tells OSG's Lynn Burkhead that even he can find success out on the water!

MLF Pro Tips: How to Fish a New Lake

MLF Pro Tips: How to Fish a New Lake

Major League Fishing pros Alton Jones, Jeff Sprague, Anthony Gagliardi and James Watson share their thoughts on how to approach fishing a new lake for bass.

See More Popular Videos

Trending Articles

If you haven't looked at the smaller urban lakes in your area, you are missing out on some great bass pond fishing. Bass

Bass Pond Fishing: Catch Lunkers at Small Lakes Near You

Dan Anderson

If you haven't looked at the smaller urban lakes in your area, you are missing out on some...

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

3 Deadly Bait Rigs For Stripers

J.B. Kasper

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

While wildly popular amongst anglers around the world, the IGFA World Record book shows the biggest pike come from Europe. Records

Top 10 Biggest Pike World Records of All Time

Jack Vitek - August 19, 2015

While wildly popular amongst anglers around the world, the IGFA World Record book shows the...

Experts agree record channel cat caught in 1949 was actually a blue catfish. Records

Upon Further Review: 70-Year-Old Catfish Record Voided

Game & Fish Digital Staff - May 22, 2019

Experts agree record channel cat caught in 1949 was actually a blue catfish.

See More Trending Articles

More Fishing How-To

Understand the importance of sinkers in this episode of Beyond the Bait Powered by Streamlight. Beyond the Bait

Choose the Right Weight for Bass Fishing

Game & Fish Digital Staff

Understand the importance of sinkers in this episode of Beyond the Bait Powered by Streamlight.

Here's how the pros fish swimbaits in all phases of peak bass season. Bass

Bass Swimbaits Through the Spring

Ken Duke - May 15, 2020

Here's how the pros fish swimbaits in all phases of peak bass season.

Tie one on this spring to tempt sluggish bass in cool waters. Bass

Suspend a Jerkbait (Patiently) for Spring Bass

Matt Straw - April 29, 2020

Tie one on this spring to tempt sluggish bass in cool waters.

It's easier than you think — and will put more big bass in your boat. Bass

Dock-Skip with Baitcasters Like a Pro

Ken Duke - May 06, 2020

It's easier than you think — and will put more big bass in your boat.

See More Fishing How-To

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Digital Now Included!

SUBSCRIBE NOW

Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services

PREVIEW THIS MONTH'S ISSUE

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

Get Digital Access.

All Game & Fish subscribers now have digital access to their magazine content. This means you have the option to read your magazine on most popular phones and tablets.

To get started, click the link below to visit mymagnow.com and learn how to access your digital magazine.

Get Digital Access

Not a Subscriber?
Subscribe Now