High water bass, both largemouth and smallmouth, react to rising water conditions by moving shallower in spring.
Most folks understand this concept, but the simple truth is that they don’t fish shallow enough. Some tournament guys will venture way back into the shallow, thick stuff, but the general population of anglers is missing the boat.
Spring is unquestionably the one time of year that anglers across the country face high water conditions. Water fluctuations in lake, rivers and reservoirs can drastically impact the location of all fish in any system. In the video above, Al and James Lindner are fishing a natural lake that is three feet above normal pool levels.
Interestingly, the smallmouth bass they typically see on main lake points at this time are now concentrated further back into the bays where they usually catch largemouth bass. A big portion of the largemouth are even further back into regions of water that are normally unnavigable.
Electronics are really key tools for finding fish, even in high water conditions like this. Many Humminbird units have access to XM weather, 2D sonar, Down-Imaging, Side-Imaging, etc, but one really cool feature associated to Lakemaster maps is “Water Level Offset”. The allows you to adjust the depth readouts on your map.
If the lake is three feet high, simply set your offset accordingly for more accurate data on your map.
This feature can be extremely beneficial for anyone that fishes lakes with regular seasonal water fluctuations.
It’s interesting, when you get really high-water conditions, even the smallmouth, which are normally main lake related in the lake Al and James are fishing, will leave those main lake areas. High water bass understand their environment, they know that there’s water running in, and they are instinctively getting out of the main lake and moving into these flooded brush areas. All the fish in the lake are doing the same thing. The main lake areas that look really good and often times hold fish will be vacated in favor of protected bays. Finding the cover that holds fish in these areas is key, whether it’s rocks, wood, weeds, etc.
Follow the fish up into bays and shallow cover to catch them. Search baits work great for shallow, spring bass fishing. Try weedless jigs, spinnerbaits and crankbaits to see which works best.
High-water fishing does not need to be looking for the proverbial needle in a hay stack if you know what to look for.