The unusually mild winter followed by the unusually warm spring has created a mixed up and confusing situation for anglers and the fish they pursue. The spring crappie spawning season came and went so quickly that I think some anglers missed out completely.
Over the last several years, I have been able to pretty much forecast where the spring crappie are located and when they would spawn by the interaction around my dock. The big crappie will normally move in to begin spawning around my dock somewhere from the middle of February to the second week of March and then the smaller crappie will move in to spawn.
This year the crappie season was accelerated and condensed into what seemed like a two week period when everything happened. If you were not on the water during those two weeks you missed out on the bonanza which usually stretches out over 4-6 weeks. The crappie seemed to be constantly moving as the water temperature rose very quickly. Anglers could find them one day and they would be gone the next.
I think from my observations this year, the majority of the crappie had spawned by the third week of March and none are left to spawn on the April full moon. Many crappie have already moved back to deep brushpiles and away from the shoreline. That usually does not happen until the middle to the end of April.
But then when I think I have the situation under control again and figured out, I hear anglers reporting that the crappie are moving into the backs of creeks. Do what? I hope that I am not the only one confused this spring in my attempt to pattern the fish and their movements.
Two weeks ago the shad began to spawn in both Lake Oconee and Lake Sinclair. That is an event I have never witnessed that early in the spring. Normally the shad spawn occurs from the middle of April through the middle of May. During a normal spring, the largemouth bass finish spawning by mid April and then the shad spawn occurs and provides a good meal for the largemouth bass that would normally be coming off the spawning beds.
There have been few bass feeding in the shad spawns that I have witnessed, so where are the largemouth bass? They are just as confused as the crappie due to the warm weather and warm water temperatures. I thought a large majority of the largemouth bass had also spawned but if so why are they not attacking shad in the shad spawn?
Last week after plowing the backs of coves for largemouth bass with some but limited success, I decided to change tactics and went to spots where I normally catch largemouth bass in late April and early May and low and behold the largemouth were already there. I even caught largemouth bass from areas that I would consider summertime locations.
So this week’s fishing report is somewhat of a guess on my part because everything seems to change on an almost daily basis and it has been that way all spring. If you think you have got the fishing situation figured out please drop me an e-mail. I would like to hear someone else discuss their spring fishing experiences.
I intended to write about the lake’s post-spawn period this week but the warm spring has confused the fishing situation so much that I decided to wait another week to see if the confusion would clear up. Who knows what we are in store for this month with 90 degree weather predicted this week. I do not know about you but I am ready for the weather to return to a more normal pattern.
One good thing about the early spring and the fast warm up is that the pollen season has been shortened somewhat. Normally the flowers in our yard follow a normal blooming pattern each year and that blooming is spread out over several weeks just as is the normal fish spawn. However, this year everything bloomed within a two week period due to the warm weather and it looks like the same thing occurred with the fish spawn.
The average normal high temperature for April is 75-78 degrees. Most of March temperatures were in the 70s and 80s when they should have been in the 60s, so you can understand why fish, animals and the flowers and trees are a little bit confused. We can be thankful though because the record low for April in this area was 25 degrees. On second thought, I think I will gladly accept the warm spring weather but I sure hope it is not 125 degrees come August.
My granddaughter Chloe Clark will be visiting Papa this week and she has already informed me that she wants to catch some catfish off the dock. Last year she visited in late April and the big catfish were in my cove spawning and she and I caught some really big catfish. Maybe with a little luck they will be spawning early this year. But then again who knows, they may be as confused as all the other fish! Good fishing and see you next week.
Outdoor columnist Bobby Peoples can be contacted via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.