Yamaha pro Todd Faircloth fishes stickups during May fishing outing.
Spring brings with it many choices, especially for largemouth bass anglers.
Where to fish? Hovey Lake, Patoka, Forest service Lakes, Oil Creek. of where? Then there are questions of what bait, what tackle, when and more.
The public relations folks at Yamaha frequently prepare fishing information based on interviews with the pro fishermen they sponsor, and a recent release about Todd Faircloth pointed out issues he faces in May on the tournament trail.
Faircloth knows he will find fish in some stage of the spawn practically anywhere on a lake this month and he has to decide which ones he wants to catch.
“It’s a nice problem to have,” laughs Faircloth, a four-time winner in Bassmaster® competition, “and it only happens this time of year. In the upper end of most lakes, the fish will already be in the post-spawn, in the middle of the lake it’s late spawning and probably some post spawn, while in the lower end fish are spawning and possibly even in pre-spawn.
“An angler really has the opportunity to fish in his comfort zone with a choice of lures and presentations, but it doesn’t last very long.”
Faircloth prefers to start his May fishing in the lower end of a lake, concentrating on main lake ridges and humps or perhaps in a deeper creek. To him, this section offers the highest percentage for success because he occasionally finds bass in all three stages of the spawn.
On many lakes, the humps and ridges may be covered with milfoil or hydrilla, so what I’m also looking for are clear spots where there isn’t any vegetation,” explains the Yamaha Pro. “These are kinds of places bass will use for spawning.
“Everything depends on water temperature and water clarity, but no matter what the water temperature may be, I know it will continue to get warmer in May. That means I can usually fish water in the five to eight-foot range, and use soft plastic worms and stickbaits on Carolina or Texas rigs. It’s some of my favorite fishing of the entire year, and it isn’t hard to catch a lot of bass.”
If wind or other weather conditions create unfavorable fishing conditions on the lower end of a lake, Faircloth usually goes in the opposite direction, to the far upper end of the lake. Here, bass can frequently be found on main lake points or by the first deep dropoffs leading out from their spawning flats. These bass, because they’re further into the post-spawn, are often feeding heavily before moving to summer structure.
“It can be a good time to fish a medium-diving crankbait, or possibly a Carolina rig, depending on the mood of the fish,” Faircloth notes, “and if current is present, a plastic imitation shad on a jighead may be an even better lure choice.
“In current, I look for bass in the calmer eddies where the force of the water is broken and forms a good ambush spot. All I do is cast upstream and let the water wash my lure into those eddies.”
In the middle of the lake, Faircloth expects to find post-spawn bass, but his lure choice here is quite different. He likes to fish topwaters, working noisy popper-type lures around specific targets like shallow brush and logs. He changes to faster walking-type lures or a buzz bait when fishing the larger flats.
“Overall, the mid-section of a lake can offer some of the most exciting fishing because topwater lures work so well and allow you to cover a lot of water,” Faircloth commented. “In May, the majority of mid-lake bass will have completed
Now is a great time to be fishing for bass, but don’t forget about bluegill, crappie and others.
Flowering bushes like this one point to a new season.
Spring vs. Fall. It’s a tossup. Which one is the best season?
Spring brings with it a sense of new, a feeling of freshness. Spring flowers are spectacular. Hardy flowers like crocus and daffodils are like me. They can hardly wait till spring. They will poke their buds and blooms through late snows just to give us hope that a new season is arriving.
The birds also announce the arrival of a new season. You can hear it in their song. There is a noticeable, pleasant difference between the aviary spring chorus than the few chirps you hear on a cold, winter morning. In addition there are the new voices of birds making their way back from southern climates.
Grass begins to green (yes, I know that leads to the dreaded mowing). Buds on trees get larger and the turn a brighter red, and suddenly begin to explode into a canopy of green.
It’s time for crappie fishing, and with the coming of the dogwood blossom, catching suckers (fish) on the riffles. It’s also morel mushroom season There is nothing quite as spectacular about the wildflowers in a spring woods. As you begin hunting morels in late March and continue for the next several weeks, it is fun to observe the woods change from winter brown to the spectacular spring colors as different flowers bloom.
On the other hand, fall is a great time of the year. The crisp, cool days of autumn are a welcome relief from summer’s heat. It also is a great time for fishing and spending time in the woods. Catfish gorge themselves in late summer and early fall, and there is no better time to catch a big cat.
As clear, cool weather approaches, Nature’s paint brush goes to work painting a magnificent landscape. The beauty of autumn is unequaled in nature. Spending time on a wooded trail in October is hard to beat.
Camping is a treat as most of the bugs of late spring and summer have departed. Campfires are not only a joy to watch, they can help repel the evening chill as youngsters toast marshmallows to make smores. (Most everyone is familiar with smores, but just in case you don’t. They are hot, toasted marshmallows and Hershey’s chocolate made into a sandwich by two Graham crackers on the outside.)
Fall also means hunting season. As the leaves turn, it is a time for hunting doves, fall turkeys, and scouting for deer. And time should be reserved for gathering nuts and persimmons. It also is a time for wonderful fall festivals with plenty fun things to see and do, and good food.
Spring and fall seasons are a tossup for top billing in my book, but one thing slightly tips the scale to spring. It isn’t a problem with fall, it is what follows. I’m really not a fan of winter. It has some good qualities like the first pretty snow, and a cup of hot cider by the fireplace, however in my book, it just can’t compete with spring and fall.
Is this winter’s cold, and this spring’s cool and wet weather having an impact on bluegill fishing? The question was prompted by a note from a Bardstown reader.
The reader in particular questioned the rain and cold effect on bluegill in small ponds and lakes.
This old scribe is certainly not a biologist. My one class of high school biology didn’t even make me an expert at dissecting a frog. However based of years of talking with fisherman, plus a number of biologists, I have some assumptions on the subject.
First, a little background on bluegill. The scientific name is Lepomis macrochirus, according to information from the Wisconsin fish and wildlife folks. Leoimis means “scaled cheek”. and macrochirus means “large hand””, possibly in reference to the size of the size of the pectoral fin. However, a nice size bluegill is also about the size of a large hand.
Bluegill also are known as bream, brim, and coopernose as well as other local and regional names. They are found throughout Kentucky and Indiana, and in fact, these days are found throughout most of the United States. A variety of other types of sunfish such as redear, shellcrackers and stump knockers often are found in similar locations.
Spring is probably the best time to catch big bluegills. With the difficulty of winter weather ending, the bluegill's attention turns toward feasting to gather energy for the bluegill spawn.
This feeding creates conditions which are good for a fisherman to take advantage of the increased feeding activity, since the bluegills will be less cautious and more voracious than any other time of the year.
So when does spawning take place? Like many things in nature, it depends, but there are some general guidelines.
Spawning takes place fro May to early August (peaking in late May into June) at water temperatures between 67 - 80º F.
Males select a sand or gravel bar that can be hollowed out to form a nest. Before and after spawning, the male bluegill defends the nest against all species, but most vigorously against other male sunfishes.
As to bait or lures to catch bluegill, again in depends. It depends and the gill’s preference, and what the angler thinks works best for him or her.
Plain garden worms seem to be the favorite bait for bluegills, but they can be caught on a number of different types of lures. The fly fisher can have fun with poppers, especially in spring and early summer, when nests are concentrated in shallow water.
The males are scrappy fighters that will take on fish much bigger than themselves such as bass and catfish to keep their young safe. They are more likely to attack a jig just to move it out of their nest rather than to eat the bait. However, the result can be a fish on a hook.
Most of the bigger bluegills are taken in deep water during the summer months by drifting with the wind using worms. Wintertime jigging in the weed beds with grubs or mousies on ice jigs also produce excellent results, according to the Wisconsin fisheries folks.
Back to the original question. “What are the effects , if any,that the weather will have on bluegill fishing? I am talking small ponds and lakes. So much rain and cool.”
I don't think the rain and the cool will have a significant impact on bluegill fishing in ponds and lakes. The cool could slow the spawn, which in turn might delay some of the best bluegill fishing action.
Also, if water remains high, it might possibly cause bluegill to spawn in different locations, or make the water deeper and a bit more of a challenge if they spawn in their regular location. Bluegill often will use the same nests time after time.
The biggest long-term impact would be if the fish spawn in flood water area, and then the level drops quickly, it could leave beds and eggs high and dry.
For information from someone with more expertise, I would suggest you call the Kentucky Department of Fish & Wildlife Resources at 1-800-858-1549. They probably will put you in touch with a biologist.