Bass Season is Coming
Get the Visitors Guide & More! View Travel Guides
By Don Gasaway
As spring approaches, southern Illinois anglers are looking forward to catching some lunker bass.  Williamson County becomes bass central in the spring as anglers turn their attention to the lakes of the area.
Bass fishing is like putting together one of those puzzles that you get for Christmas and spend the next year trying to figure out the solution.
In bass fishing it is one area at a time, one fish at a time, one strike at a time and one cast at a time.
Mother Nature has a way of undoing everything you have figured out.  In the blink of an eye she can change the entire situation.  The change can come in the form of a big rain, big wind, a change of water conditions, or a cold front.  If the weather is stable you will probably do very well.
Certain conditions are more important than others.  In spring you want a long sustained warming trend.  You want the cold fronts to come in and stimulate the fish to start feeding as the water cools.
Change is important but you want a positive change.  If you get a negative change, like several days of warm weather followed by several days of cold weather it hurts your pattern.  Wind and rain sometimes can destroy what you are doing.
In the spring fish are easier to locate because they are going to migrate to shallow water.  They do not scatter over the lake but rather move to tight groups on little key spots.  Without finding a key place, you might not get a bite all day.  If you find those places it may be the easiest time to catch fish because of their being concentrated.
Bass are often in staging areas.  A staging area is usually the first deep water off a spawning flat.  Bass try to go shallow, they hit a cold front and they pull back to the staging area.  As the weather warms they try it again. It is often back and forth, back and forth.  They repeat this action for a few days or even a few weeks.  When the water gets the right clarity and temperature the fish will move up and spawn.
In the post-spawn period the process reverses and they move back off the beds.  Bass do not all spawn at the same time.  There will be waves of fish on and off the spawning beds.  There will be two and sometimes three waves of fish.
When they move back deep bass begin relating to structure and cover.  You have to play it by ear.  Let the fish tell you what they are doing.  Try to keep an open mind and maintain a flexible pattern.
Look at the water first.  Water clarity is important in lure selection and line size.  Determine what portion of the lake will have clear water and what portion might have stained water.
Pay attention to the temperature of the water.  It will help you identify what the bass are doing.
What is the predominant cover where you find fish?  It can be wood or grass.  If grass, what kind is it?  You just try to dissect the lake as to what cover is available.
Bass fishing is a puzzling experience.