Largemouth Bass Blast!
Locating largemouth bass may be laborious for many this time of the year, but for those fortunate enough to live in the sub tropic to tropic regions of Florida, February is proving to take the labor out of laborious, as the big bass action is in full swing!
Local bass guide Scottie Markham, of Lakeland Florida is a testament to the hot bass action taking place this month with catches near the 11 pound range, and an average of 6-9 pounds coming over the gunnels. “The pre spawning stage has picked up substantially in our area over the past week. We are seeing lots of males fanning beds and females hanging close by and even taking up residence,” said Markham.
Bass in Florida can spawn as early as November and waves of bedding fish can continue well into April. Typically, the heaviest spawn is from late February through the beginning of April, but weather changes of extreme can make finding quality largemouth bass tricky. “It takes being on the water quit often to find bass when the weather fluctuates as much as it did this year.” A consistent warming period of 4 to 6 days will usually signal the males to fan out beds in their favorite spawning areas. “Right now, it’s not uncommon to boat 10-15 largemouth’s in the 6-9 pound range in just a few hours; that’s just how good the action is right now if you know where to look,” added Markham.
Markham says the water temperature is holding around 60-64 degrees, and once it reaches the 72-74 range the majority of females will lay their eggs. “We are seeing a lot of the males putting in the work below the surface, but many of those boated are females gorging in preparation of spawning.”
Bass are showing up mainly on the points around Kissimmee grass and hugging the outer edges of the lily pads. This past cold front may have very well signaled the end of the severe cold snaps, as the transition from deeper water to shallow water seems to be taking place. “Seeing that the fish are already in transition, I expect them to still be a little cautious of changing weather until we see a long stretch of consistent warmth, which is why I’m finding many still hugging the edges and not settled deep into the grass.”
Markham says that he prefers to fish from mid day to late afternoon. His bait choices are either 3 inch crank baits in a natural live bait color, or a 6 inch (June bug colored) soft plastic on a 1/8th ounce black bullet with a 2/0 wide gap hook. “Right now, it’s a must to slow down your retrieval. Present your baits at a depth of about 3-4 feet, and for crank bait lovers, be sure to use suspended baits. The bass are striking 99% of the time at the beginning or end of a retrieve, so keeping the bait in the comfort zone and at the right speed is important.