Originally Posted by leftys brother
I was reading that some of their activity is caused by day length and not necessarily by water temp and was thinking that you would be in a perfect position to examine it. What you said about seldom before the 1st of may would lead me to believe day length is playing into it cause there must of been at least a few early springs in your career. Then again maybe not as I never remember one from when I lived in Wyoming.
I appreciate your insights.
---------- Post added at 12:26 AM ---------- Previous post was at 12:18 AM ----------
Have you noticed how they react to shade in the winter?
Well it would make sense that it was length of day. It's pretty much like clockwork when they come in here. Like I said, the earliest I have seen is the last day of April. Ice out here on the river can vary by a month and a half. I have records going back to 1934. The latest was April 30th. That happened twice. 2008 and just a few years ago. The earliest is March 11th, but it is in April about 3 times as often in April as March. It does not seem to make a great deal of difference as to when they come in, except when it opened on the 30th od April, and the last time that happened it was still stinking cold. We had a snow storm that buried the place about the 3rd or 4th of May. They were a bit late that year. On the otherhand, so was I.
My point is, the river has a month and a half in variable opening, but the Bass sure don't Vary that much. The latest one I can find in my photos is May 11th 2008, which was the latest the river ever opened up. I will have to look, but it got nicer faster the second time it did it on that date. I know the ice came off the lake earlier. We had ice on the lake in 08 till the first week of June. I think the lake was open for fishing opener the second time. So in my experience and keeping track since 1998, my earliest was April 30th, and the latest is May 11th. I look at that May 11th as a radical outlier. If you do like they do in most things like that and toss out the far end numbers, it would be about May 1st to May 6th or so.
Keep in mind, that when they move shallow and stay there. If you go into the sunny side adjacent to deep water they do come shallow and feed but they don't hang around. I have also picked up a few on the shady side a few days earlier in the main river, and interestingly, night seems to be the best in a few spots, but even then you only get to get a preview of about 4 or 5 days.
Now this year the dang ice is still building. It's been around -10° F for the last 4 nights in a row. It got up to a whole whopping +30 today. We aren't going to get rid of any ice like that.
I had -21° F last night followed by a high of about 9°. If the weather does not start to turn pretty quick, I am going to have some trouble with the Spring Pike season. Interestingly, that seems to be a time of year thing as well. It runs two weeks if the rivers and streams go out in the normal order and you follow it around the lake. Most years that runs the middle two weeks of April. On a really cold one it can run into the first week of May, but that's rare and they have run under the ice and been done when it breaks. That sucks.
It kind of shows that temperature plays only a part at best for a lot of fish.
You can see why I like Spring here. Big Bass, big Pig Pike and big Walleye. A person could put in 5 or 6 weeks here and get the biggest fish of those three species they ever saw let alone caught. Unless they lived here and then maybe still do it.
Now for the shade thing. Almost everything you read about Smallmouth and shade is a load of BS. They will use it, they don't mind it. But they don't hate the sun or are "extremely photophobic" as one writer put it. There was a guy who wrote a book and an article in American Angler that came up with that jewel. I have never written a magazine about an article before or since that over an article, but that one made me do it.
Smallmouth are structure oriented a lot of the time, but not always. In a lot of places, they wander main lake basins with no structure whatsoever. They like rock better than wood but that doesn't mean you won't pull one off of wood. But if you buy into that they hate sun gotta have shade BS you will be missing the vast majority of fish.
By the way, they published my letter as an article called "One from the sunny side". To make my point, I would say that better than 80% of the Smallmouth I have caught, came from spots that had zero shade.
Do yourself a favor and disregard anything you ever heard about Smallies needing or wanting shade. You can get them in the shade, but it has little or nothing to do with the shade.