Conditions right for best bass fishing of the year

Guide Mike McSwain with a quality largemouth bass. Photo provided.

There are those who say that if you can’t catch a largemouth bass now, you’re never going to catch one.

All the signs are there for some outstanding fishing. The water temperature is right and the bass are headed to the shallows with one thing on their mind. It’s time to spawn.

“There’s some truth to that statement,” says guide Mike McSwain (broadriversmallmouth.com or 843-763-3805). “The bass are hungry. They’re going to be craving food and the laws of nature are kicking in. The fish are active now.”

But spring also can be a tough time. The weather can be unpredictable. McSwain said he has fished days recently when the wind has come from four different directions.

“Water temperature is the biggest key. That’s the catalyst to trigger the bite in spring,” he said.

McSwain said the water temperature is 68 degrees on the small private lakes he fishes. A friend, Dave Miller, recently landed a 9-pounder and a 7-pounder and, had he been in a tournament, could have had a 28-pound. five bass limit. McSwain, on another lake didn’t have the same results as far as size but said he caught 30 to 40 quality bass.

Over the next few weeks, depending upon the waters you fish, the male bass will move to the shallows to prepare beds for the females.

“The males will chew their tails raw fanning those beds. They are fired up. I’ve not yet seen a female parked on the bed,” he said.

The males aren’t thinking about eating but become very protective when they prepare their beds. McSwain said he has watched a male pick up a plastic worm dropped into the bedding area and move it six feet away.

“I fish plastic, plastic, plastic,” McSwain said, favoring Gary Yamamoto Senko worms, Zoom Ultra Vibe crawdads and other similar lures.

“I’ve learned a lot from (pro fisherman) Marc Deschenes. They’re not hungry. They don’t like that lure down on the bottom, stirring up their bed area. They don’t like that bullet weight stirring the mud on the bottom. They don’t like seeing that creature stirring up the bottom. They want it out of there.”

McSwain is protective of the spawning females and will leave them alone if he sees them, but if he’s not sight-fishing he tries to set the hook as quickly as possible.

“This time of year you don’t want to be hurting the fish if you want to have a bass-rich fishery,” he said, adding that he always tries to make sure of a healthy release.

“I don’t want to be one of those guys who swings and misses on four fish in a row and then decides ‘I’m going to let this one eat it’ and then when you catch the fish you can’t see the eye of the hook. This time of year I swing and miss a lot.”

But when you connect it could be the bass of a lifetime.