Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Hooked on Lake Wedowee | Fishing Advice

Hooked on Lake Wedowee
By: Reed Montgomery

In terms of locating those bigger than average largemouth bass, while fishing Alabama’s Tallapoosa River impoundment Lake Wedowee during the two months of February and March, anglers can simply just take a look at the weather to plan a fishing trip. But that’s not all there is to completing this late winter / early spring, pre-spawn, big bass, “puzzle.“

Piece by piece, you will always have many variables that will actually help you complete your quest for , ”that bass of a lifetime.” Some variables that are within the ranks of the weather and often very predictable. Some that are not.

There are some variables, like the lake’s warming water for instance, that will help influence those early spring, pre-spawn bass to begin to move shallow to prepare to spawn (especially if the lake’s water temperatures suddenly rise more than 10 degrees in a days time).

If there are several, warm and sunny consecutive days in a row, it may induce these pre spawn bass into thinking, its actually time to quickly prepare their nests, for another years offspring to soon occupy.
Other variables, like a full moon may influence that major school of some really Big Bass, to suddenly begin their move towards the lake’s shallows! If conditions are right there are actually two waves of bass that invade the shallows each spring season.

The first wave of pre spawn bass consists of those huge, female bass that select choice bedding sites (and mates), while the majority of the lake’s bass have yet to make their move towards the lake’s shallow spawning grounds. Selecting a male (that then prepares the nest), these both male and female bass then have their choice of any select bedding location found lake wide.

Before the second wave, the lake’s “other” residents begin to move in.

So how big of a bass are we talking during this late winter early spring season?
Perhaps within reach during this actual 60 day period, I am referring to Lake Wedowee’s truly big, trophy-sized largemouth bass. No, not just a nine or ten pounder. We are referring to those bigger than average largemouth bass, those often very rare bass only encountered once in any bass anglers lifetime. A largemouth bass weighing well in excess of ten pounds, maybe one even weighing in the “teens!”

Yes, as big as they come! Fishing on Lake Wedowee? Alabama’s youngest, man made reservoir. Can this be possible? A lake that will be 30 years old in the year 2013. A lake impounded in 1983, that still produces phenomenal size largemouth bass?

Yes, its possible, but only if your there.
Fishing for Lake Wedowee’s really big, trophy size largemouth bass during the months of February and March, can slow anglers due to facing some very brutal weather conditions. In past winter seasons there were air temperatures in the teens, even a few inches of snow and iced over boat ramps and a thin film of ice lining the lake’s 10,660 acres of shoreline for weeks, coupled with water temperatures in the upper 30’s.
This all but shut down the largemouth bass bite. Dormancy, they call it.

This is Alabama’s late winter season weather to the extreme. When referring to late winter and early spring, there are always much better conditions to be had or better weather to select from. Looking ahead for ideal conditions when planning a fishing trip, always calls for a good look at the weather.

When you do decide to tackle these big, prespawn bass of Lake Wedowee (a lake now 29 years since it was impounded and still full of big bass) keep a strict frame of mind. You are fishing for only a few big bass bites. Bass weighing in the teens are very rare. So, do not give up easily!

No matter what the weather or what conditions may arise, its all well worth it when that bass of lifetime is eventually seen laying in the bottom of your boat.

When many would-be anglers are still sitting by the warmth of their fire place just relaxing and waiting for spring to arrive, you will be showing off pictures of you and some truly big, trophy-sized largemouth bass!
That is, if you do your home work! Here’s how.

The lake’s shallow, spawning grounds can heat up fast with each passing week. That is, if its been unseasonably warm. Keep in mind February can be the coldest month in Alabama. The late winter / early spring period of the year 2010 the air temperature was in the teens and water temperatures in the low 40’s until late March. This followed a severe, very cold, late winter season.

So as you can see the weather does play a big part in the seasonal movement of Lake Wedowee’s big, largemouth bass. There will be some bass that will remain in and around deep water until things, ”heat up” like right after a few weeks of slowly rising air temperatures and water temperatures on the rise as well. Including a few warm nights.

This is when Lake Wedowee’s avid bass anglers should be searching out the lake looking for its clearest and warmest water, coupled with the nearest full moon. Find the clearest water clarity available and you can rest assured these bass will be getting a good luck at your tempting offering.

These are just a few of those variables that will help you complete putting together this late winter / early spring puzzle. A 60 day period that always begins, starting during the first week of February and then it can actually lead into the actual, springtime spawning process, as early as late March.

Breaking it down into several “two week periods” trophy bass anglers that frequent Lake Wedowee during this 60 day period can keep a watch on the daily weather, take notice of warming trends (that includes water warming variables) and the first full moon phase.

Look for four actual, two-week periods…with plenty of changes!
February 1 - February 15
During this two week period lets face it. Its winter in Alabama. Cold weather and pleasant fishing conditions do not go together in early February. So if your not real serious about fishing during these often harsh and brutal conditions, you may want to select the more comfortable days to go fishing.
* Look for late winter warming trends.

The good thing is, no matter what day you do choose to go fishing in February you will often have most places you select all to yourself! Especially on weekdays! There are very few anglers on the water in February, so enjoy it while you can, before the hordes of springtime anglers emerge as weather permits!
During early February the cold days and cold nights of late winter on Lake Wedowee show most largemouth bass are still in a winter frame of mind. Adverse conditions may show water temperatures in the low-to-mid 40’s.

Or a sudden winter warming trend could bring up the water temperature in the lakes shallows a few degrees in a days time, as much as 10 degrees warmer within a week of sudden unseasonably warm weather.
But it really does not matter, because from December on into late February, these are still wintertime bass your targeting. Not spawning bass. So, they have still got to eat!

If faced with adverse conditions, like when following a few days of heavy winter rains and/or stained-to-muddy water conditions, then fish shallow water or fish the banks that are near deep water.
If the water clarity is exceptionally clear this is normal for winter. Fish deeper then. Deeper than most other times of the year or deeper than most anglers fish year round.

Fish slow with lures designed to be fished on or near the lake’s rocky bottom. Like with the use big worms, jig combos or even try vertical jigging with spoons in water depths of 10-30 feet deep.
Fish along deep river channel ledges and drop offs like where shallow flats drop into water that is 20-30 feet deep. Rock bluffs, deep boulder-strewn banks, rocky points, around islands, around bridge pilings and the mouths of major feeder creeks should be your targets.

These are late wintertime holding spots for locating big, trophy sized largemouth bass. Places you will mostly have all to yourself during the entire month of February.

February 15 - March 1
Like the first two week phase of February, this latter period of the month still takes place during late winter, with one exception. Its really the very beginning of the first major move of these big largemouth bass, from their winter homes to some very predictable pre spawn locations.

Its also closer to the full moon period in late February and if sudden, early spring conditions arise that are in their favor at the time…these bass can react and they will.

It takes several warm days coupled with warm nights, with rather clear to lightly stained water clarity conditions, including a full moon nearby and preferably water temperatures on the rise, like from the mid-40’s, into the mid-to-upper 50’s. This will really induce these big largemouth bass to move towards pre spawn locations near the lake’s shallow spawning grounds. No, not to spawn, but to first eat.

This is when anglers should begin their search for those places these big largemouth bass hold in just prior to spawning. Places still close to deep water, that have plenty of a good, cover and a constant available food source. These bass instinctively know they have got to eat to really produce the fat reserves needed prior to spawning.

Some of these big, female bass (including the smaller male bass) may not eat for several weeks. But now, they will eat a lot!

March 1 - March 15
The month of March is dubbed “the pre spawn month” here in Alabama. By April these bass are bedding. In May their in another hungry post-spawn feeding situation. March is when a lot of really big female bass make their move shallow.

Although most really big Lake Wedowee bass taken on record (with many weighing in the “teens”) have been successfully caught in both January and February, there have been just as many big, trophy bass fooled during the month of March in recent years.

March 15 – March 31
Some changes may be so sudden from the mid-to-late March period, you may want to look for these conditions far ahead of time! Then plan your next few fishing trips to Lake Wedowee. Yes, it will take more than one fishing trip to even have a chance at hooking into that, “bass of a lifetime.” After all, you only get one chance.

Put all these variables together during this two week period and you will be looking at some near perfect pre spawn conditions. Then you will have your best chance at fooling one of Lake Wedowee’s truly big, springtime largemouth bass.

But keep in mind. Some of these “very big bass” may still be in deep water or very near the late winter / pre spawn areas, holding very close to the lake’s deeper water.

In your game plan, include paying close attention to the depth your fishing and concentrate your efforts while fishing various depths in those, “more likely looking pre spawn locations” where these bigger than average largemouth bass reside. Right before they make their move into the lake’s shallow spawning grounds.
But like said, “you have got to be there to be successful.”

Even when conditions improve, when many springtime anglers are often, ”jumping the gun”, fishing the lake’s shallow banks, its major feeder creek shallow flats, obvious-looking shallow wood and rock cover found in Lake Wedowee’s hundreds of small cuts and pockets, or its miles and miles of main lake flats, all that heat up fast. Keep in mind.
You may have some very good, “big bass holes” all to yourself, by just fishing deeper.
Like previously stated, “a lot depends on the weather.”

Thanks and Good Fishin’

Reed Montgomery, Owner of Reeds Guide Service
Alabama’s and Lake Wedowee’s Oldest, Professional Guide Service
“Guiding on Lake Wedowee Since it was Impounded in 1983”


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