Here are some tips to be the first on the lake to catch a bass after ice-out.
For anglers in the northern states, ice-out is the signal which opens the bass fishing season. The melting ice allows the water to heat, and that sets a number of processes in action which are favorable to bass—and to those who are fishing for them.
While the water is still cold, the best bass fishing will be in flowing water and grassy, shallows exposed to full sun. Live bait may work, but using a lure and reeling it in slowly is the most attractive option.
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As the final cold fronts of the season come through, bass will travel between the depths and shallows in search of optimum temperatures.
Shallow water is the best place for fishing on cold days and cool mornings. As the day warms up, move to sluggish streams with leafy overhangs and cast minnows or rubber worms.
During the heat of the day and into evening, concentrate on live bait and deep water. Keep in mind that fish get more active as they warm up, and retrieve the lure at faster speeds to match, from a slow crawl in the morning to a medium pace in the late afternoon.
Always consider the location when selecting a lure. Under branches and near the bank is a good place to use real or artificial grubs. In deeper water, spinners and swimbaits are more successful. In grassy, the best lure is often a fly or medium jerkbait. Live baits will provide better yield in midday or afternoon, but depth will make a huge difference as well.
After ice-out, lakes and ponds come alive. Sunlight penetrating to greater depths encourages the growth of plankton, and that feeds the entire marine food chain. To get the most out of bass fishing, control the depth of your bait according to the warmth of the day.
That means keeping close to the surface in the spring, but moving away from banks into deeper water as summer draws on.
The melted ice also triggers spawning, and bass are feeding more often to accommodate increased activity.