The general consensus is that bass will bite at any time during the course of a day, but the first and last light of the day (dawn and dusk) are prime times. Bass are most active in cool water between 60-75 degrees Fahrenheit, which means spring and fall are the best seasons to catch them. Colder water slows down the metabolism of the fish, which suppresses their appetites and makes them tougher to catch. Warmer water means lower dissolved oxygen levels, less movement and fewer opportunities for anglers.
There are subtle nuisances when it comes to spring and fall bass fishing that should be heeded to maximize your bites.
The World Fishing Network refers to fall as “The Second Season” for bass fishing. Nights are longer, temperatures are cooler and there are fewer boats on the water as many anglers are either at home watching football or hunting.
Early fall bass fishermen should focus on areas where you can see weeds on the surface near deeper, open water areas. Bass use the weeds as a blanket of sorts when temperatures start dropping. Most bass will be in shallow to mid-depth waters during this time of year. But because of the rapid temperature transitions bass are experiencing, some days you’ll be able to put anything on a hook and get a bite, while others will be extremely quiet. The first cold night of the year is generally when the feeding frenzy happens.
Slow-rolled spinnerbaits and deep-diving crankbaits are good around timber lines and drop-off points in the water. Plastic worms and lizards also work well. Crankbaits should be white, while spinnerbaits should have either a red or pumpkin color.
Warmer temperatures and longer days are signals for bass to start moving from deep to more shallow waters to reproduce. Early spring is spawn time and bass need the water to remain above that magic 65 degree mark. Spawning normally takes several attempts, which means bass will be easy to catch near channel banks, ditches and other structures that separate deep and shallow waters.
Eight- to 15-foot water is ideal for anglers, as this is where bass will congregate as they await warmer temperatures. Texas and Carolina rigs, along with crankbaits are best for this depth. During the spawn (mid-late April), floating lizards and worms are your baits of choice.
Fall and spring are the best times of year for bass, but that doesn’t mean summer and winter are off-limits. Midwestern states are ideal for summer bass fishing since the waters never get too warm or too cold. Resorts such as Wisconsin Dells offer some of the best summer bass fishing you can find. Winter angling requires slow-moving soft plastic baits, and a lot of patience.
Contact your state’s Game and Fish Department to learn more specifics about bass fishing in your area.
Tim is a fisherman from Alaska and is an advocate for sustainable farming and fishing.