Some of the best fishing of the year is almost upon us! March is always a special month on Lake Travis as it is when a major transition in the lake occurs.
Water temps throughout the winter have been cold. This year they have been in the mid 50’s with exception of right after that last winter storm we had. As water temps warm up, largemouth bass will make a push up to the bank in preparation to spawn. This is when they move to the shallows to build a nest and lay their eggs.
Everything during the spring revolves around the water temperature. A bass’ eggs will not hatch until the water temps are in the low 60’s. Once you see water temps get above 58 degrees give or take, you will see what is referred to as “pre-spawn” behavior.
When the fish get in pre-spawn mode, I recommend looking for main lake points and the areas directly adjacent to that point. Typically the shoreline 100 yards inside and outside of the point will be the first place these fish will stage in preparation to move further back. In addition to this, cuts and secondary points close to the mouth of a spawning cove, docks, and rock piles in the same area will also hold fish.
I have noticed a major change in the way I have been catching fish as well as where I have been catching them just in the last few days. During this time of year the pattern can change, weekly, daily, and even hourly if weather is moving in!
When the bite is tough a Ned rig and a drop shot is my go to bait. While those are still working well in some areas, I have been getting bit more and more on moving baits like swimbaits and Alabama rigs.
A craw colored crankbait, a jig, or a Texas rigged plastic can all be great ways to target these fish. I will typically start with a search bait such as a crankbait, then gauge their interest in it. I like the crankbait when I am fishing rock. If I am fishing deeper structure like docks or if I am seeing suspended or schooling fish on the Panoptix, I will pull out that A rig. If I am not getting bit throwing a moving bait, I will then slow down and switch to working the bottom with one of those other baits.
Normally I see this pre-spawn behavior on Lake Travis in late February. With that winter storm bringing abnormally low air temps and lots of ice and snow, that has delayed this. I am just now starting to see this, but this is a great sign! It means fishing will only continue to get better and better until Summer.
Once you see the water temps get warmer here further into March the bass will commit to the spawn and they can be found up shallow. Look for coves that are protected from both boat traffic and the wind. Bass want to build their nests in places they feel safe and protected. Typically these nests will be up along the shoreline in 5 feet of water or less. Look for bright spots on the bottom where the male bass has cleared away sediment from the rock with his tail. This is where the female bass will move to in order to spawn with the male bass.
This type of fishing is all visual. You need to be wearing polarized glasses in order to bed fish effectively. When bass are on a nest they become very territorial. Try throwing a bright colored bait directly onto their nest to trigger them into striking it. I recommend a bright color such as white, bubblegum, or merthiolate as it is easy to see underwater. You are looking for the bait to disappear in their mouth rather than feel for the bite. A wacky rigged senko, a rage craw, or a jig are all good options for this type of fishing. If I may offer one suggestion… once you catch a fish off a bed, take a quick photo if you desire, but get them back into the water ASAP. These bass are there guarding their eggs, and fish like sunfish and bluegill love to eat their eggs! Getting them back into the lake as soon as possible ensures the safety of those eggs, and the future bass population of Lake Travis!