Water levels in most area lakes are starting to slowly rise to summer pool. This causes most fish to move to shallower water for what is known as the pre spawn period, or the time when largemouth bass and crappie are moving up to look for suitable spawning areas with a stable water level and good oxygen and protection.
These types of spots will most often be in the back of a big cove or hollow, or around main lake points that have a flat shallow side.
Some fish will make beds close to the bank where there are small pebbles and a firm, clean bottom. When searching for beds, look for a clean area with a small bowlshaped area. However, fish will not use an area if the water levels change a lot, so focus your search mostly on main lake areas where the levels are more stable.
As the water gets up over good main lake cover and structure, the fish will move to and hold in these areas until the shallow water around the banks is stable and warms up enough. This type of area is known by most anglers as secondary cover or structure.
In some lakes this may be a large flat that drops off into an old river or creek channel and has stumps on the drop-off edge, or it may be something as simple as a brush pile close to a ditch that runs close to a bank. Any of these locations can and will hold catchable fish in late winter-early spring fishing season.
When fish are holding on these types of areas, they are doing what some anglers refer to as “staging.” The shallow water areas they will be moving into in a few weeks are known as staging areas or spawning areas. As long as bass and crappie are holding in these secondary type staging areas for a while, there are some productive fishing patterns you can use to catch these fish.
For bass you can start with faster moving bait like a crank bait or small spinner bait. These are known as search baits that will find and catch active feeding bass. By starting with this type of bait you will do two very important things. First, you can quickly eliminate unproductive water. And second, it lets you find active feeding bass.
If these baits do not work out after a while, change to a jig or tube bait or even a Carolina rig. Try to concentrate your fishing on targeting cover and fish the baits tight to that cover in a much slower pace.
Remember, this is the time of year it can be sunny and warm one day and snowing the next, so give all these methods a try until it stays warm.
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