Denis Peirce: It is bass time!
Bass Spawning Temperatures:
Spotted Bass 54 to 56 degrees at depths down to 18 feet.
Smallmouth Bass 56 to 60 degrees
Largemouth Bass 58 to 62 degrees
The calendar says spring but the skies continue to look like winter. In between these two opposing forces is the water temperature. Depending on which lake you are talking about, you can find temps from 48 degrees to 60.
The most notable catch in the past week came on Sunday when Tom Page, Reel Angler’s Fly Shop, landed a 25.75 inch spotted bass at Bullards Bar. I wrote a column last January on Tom and his bass fly, the “Stand Out Minnow.” Tom has been on the water at Bullards Bar throughout this winter fishing his fly in various colors, on good days and bad. I keep getting reports from him relating good numbers of fish responding to his fly but the really big one has been eluding him until now. He did not have a scale to weigh the fish before it was released back into the lake, so the 25.75 inches will remain the mark for Tom to best into the future.
Tom started at 7:30 a.m. The water temps were 47 to 49 degrees with visibility of four to five feet. Tom had been setting his fly about 10 feet below his float trying to present it close to the steeply dropping shore. He had been picking up some bass of modest size. He then changed up his rig to fish a depth of 15 feet. On this day that was where he connected with his personal best bass from Bullards Bar. The fly that worked was chartreuse over white.
Conditions have changed a bit at Bullards this week. The lake filled and water started spilling over the dam. Flows on the lower Yuba went up to 11,000 cubic feet per second mid week. With the warmer surface water going over the top of the dam, warming should be delayed further into the spring.
At Collins Lake, another guide from Tom’s shop, Ryan Williams, fished for bass on Sunday with two clients. The water was dirty but the bass bite was on. Again they were fishing the “float & fly” technique and caught almost 50 bass over the course of the eight hour day.
Scotts Flat reservoir has been producing fish also. One of Tom’s customers fished it in the last week, reporting seven smallmouth bass caught on the Cascade Shores side of the lake. Included in the mix was a 20 inch rainbow trout. The water is a bit colder up the hill at Scotts. The most recent temp was in the high 40s. The bass bite was most consistent at the 10 foot depth with pond smelt imitating flies.
My son Colin and I went out Tuesday evening to Tom and Andi Moreno’s pond in Penn Valley. It was overcast and chilly. Water temp was 57 degrees with a couple of feet of visibility. The ground around the pond was wet. If you are going to shore fish your feet will end up wet and muddy. Tom walks his dog around the pond daily and mentioned fish being spooked out to deeper water. This began about a week ago.
Colin and I started out with chartreuse and white spinner baits but did not get a bump. Ultimately we ended up throwing unweighted rubber worms parallel to the bank and working them slowly through the shallows. As the sky was getting darker Colin landed his first bass of the 2019 season. With that mark achieved we headed in with cold wet feet.
Local angler Ed Everhart was pre-fishing for a bass tournament at Berryessa Lake last weekend. He spent his time fishing reaction baits, which you cast far and fish fast. This is the opposite of what the other bass anglers in this report were doing. When Ed pre-fishes for a tournament the goal is not to see how many fish he can catch. He is covering as much water in a day as possible trying to locate the fish. As important as where the fish are is where they are not.
Berryessa is full and over flowing due to the wet winter. The lake is up into the grass on the perimeter. The water is shades of brown with a foot of visibility. Berryessa is normally a very clear water lake. Of note was the color of the bass. Normally they have a dark olive back with a white belly. Due to the lack of sun penetrating the water, the fish were very white. It was as if they lost their tan over a long dark winter.
The lures that Ed used were spinner baits, chatter baits and rattle traps in chartreuse and/or red. He was concentrating on baits with bright colors that vibrated to give off sound in the stained water. The structure that produced the most fish for him were flats six to 10 feet deep that had a sharp edge breaking into deep water. The edges were the hot spot. The other productive locations were points. These also produced bass. He did not do well in the backs of coves or out in deep water.
Ed noticed a couple of largemouth bass that looked like they were close to digging beds to spawn. The next full moon is April 19 and that may be the peak bass spawn of the year. If the weather remains cool and wet there could be another major spawning in May.
The bass time is upon us. Make your plans accordingly.
Denis Peirce writes a fishing column for The Union’s Outdoors section and is host of “The KNCO Fishing & Outdoor Report,” which airs 6-7 p.m. Fridays and 5-6 a.m. Saturdays on 830-AM radio. Contact him via his website at http://www.trollingflies.com.
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