Spring is almost upon us. Last week we discussed spawning temperatures for a variety of species. Today’s discussion is about the potential action of surface waters in the spring on striped bass. Surface action will happen for many species, but chasing really big fish at the top is exciting.
Striped bass usually feed all winter, but they feed even more voraciously as the water warms and of course feed for the spawning attempt. Your chances of catching a big fish on top are really good. Even though spring hasn’t officially arrived, the surface sting is about to explode, especially on these warmer days.
Water temperatures in shallow waters will warm much faster than deeper waters and this will bring bait fish. A few hot days in a row, and the bait will be back in shallow water. A few cold days and the bait returns to deeper waters. Just be prepared to try several patterns on these fish.
Typically at this time of year, birds report active fish feeding in shallow water. If the birds aren’t working, work your bait on shallow sand flats or points adjacent to deeper water. Large individual fish roam these warmer areas feeding for the spawning attempt. Keep your eyes open to surface with fish and/or bait.
Large striped bass feeding in the shallows can be an amazing sight. Splashes of large fish can be huge, unlike a school of small fish. Shallow-feeding fish are usually scary, so approach slowly and quietly and dart towards them.
It’s an exciting time of year for us anglers. Keep up to date with lake conditions, weather, and fishing reports, and be ready to hit the water on short notice.
Personally, I’ll prepare big plugs such as redfins and Rapalas just for the next striped bass action. Chug Bugs, Sassy Shad/storm soft plastic baits work well too.
A soft plastic bait retrieved on a regular basis will attract a bite. Yellow, Chrome, Clear, White/Bone/Glow, and Chartreuse are the preferred colors for surface striped bass action. You may need to match the bait they are feeding on, but don’t be afraid to use large baits when the fish are active. Bigger baits can catch bigger fish.
Live bait drifting using a float/balloon to the surface will also work. The boat can scare surface-feeding fish, so it’s best to do a presentation from a distance. Morning action as the sun rises is usually best for surface action. They can feed longer in shallow water on overcast days, as most of you know. Striped bass are generally known not to prefer direct sunlight. In fact, they tend to sink deeper once the sun is shining, so it’s best to find surface-feeding fish sooner and later (usually).
Remember to try a heavier jig or deep dive hanging lure on occasion, as larger fish can be below smaller fish feeding above. Vary the movement of the bait. Slow is still in command most days, but as it warms up, the presentation may require more movement.
Limits of Lake Whitney stripers keep coming on jigs fished near bird action north of Katy Bridge. Limits of Whitney’s Crappie continue to be caught in the river near Kimball Bend. Possum Kingdom Lake largemouth bass fishing is excellent up to 13 pounds and up on soft plastics. PK striped bass up to 15 pounds are possible on flukes caught near Costello Island (look for birds).
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