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Where The Bass Are

Old-timers depend on nature’s signals for hints on when to go fishing. Walleyes have their spawning runs when redbuds bloom; crappie bite best when dogwoods flower. When your dog or cat refuses to move from that sunny spot in March, it’s time to head to the nearest pond or lake for some early spring largemouth bass fishing. You may catch the biggest bass of your life.

“If you get an afternoon when the sun’s out and it’s 50 to 55 degrees, you’re going to find big bass in extremely shallow water in a lot of lakes,” says Ted Crowell, assistant director of state fisheries.

Big bass are shaking off the winter doldrums as the water warms in March. They’re feeding heavily on shad, minnows, and bluegill near the banks to build their strength for spawning.

“If you want to catch a big bass in Kentucky, this is the time of year to do it,” says bass biologist Gerry Buynak.

Anglers should concentrate on points and shallow areas near deep water. Bass winter in deep water, and they’re searching for the closest baitfish buffet to their lair. The best places are sunny banks of broken rock, which absorb the heat that bass need to become more active. Find brush or wood cover in these areas, and you’ll find fish.

Crowell suggests casting spinnerbaits within inches of the bank and retrieving these lures just fast enough to turn the blade. Use 1/2-ounce spinnerbaits with white or chartreuse skirts, equipped with silver or gold teardrop-shaped blades.

“You want to fish slow,” Buynak advises. “You almost have to hit fish on the head with your bait because they’re just beginning to wake up from a long winter’s nap.”

Bass still feed actively when the water is muddy, because sediment helps trap heat. Big spinnerbaits with big blades transmit vibrations that are sonic dinner bells for bass, even when fish have trouble seeing the bait.

Recommended places to fish include farm ponds and small lakes: these warm more quickly than large lakes. Call (800) 858-1549 for your free guide to places to fish in the state.

Don’t forget to buy your fishing license.

Insider’s Tip

Apply for Kentucky’s fall elk hunts wherever hunting licenses are sold. The deadline is May 31. Those drawn for the hunt receive tips on hunting elk and assistance retrieving animals from the field. Equipment used for deer hunting is suitable for elk hunting.

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