Springtime fishing arrives when the water temperature rises causing fish to become active. It is also the time of many of the hatches of all life cycles of the various insects. This is the beginning of the attractions of fly fishing in the selection of the correct pattern of the insect, baitfish or frog in order to deceive the fish into taking the bait. A great deal of satisfaction is in figuring out what the fish are feeding on, presenting an imitation and landing your catch. The increased activity of the fish begins when the water temperature is near 45 degrees F. Fish are still not using much energy and sluggish and are not much movement but begin to feed on a regular basis. When the water temperature warms to 55 to 60 degree F. the bass and panfish enter a pre-spawn phase characterized by active feeding and move into shallow water seeking cover along banks, fallen trees, and stumps. Spawning occurs around 68 degrees F. Bass spawn once per year, while panfish nests can be found well into August. By midsummer, fish are looking for cover and can be found along the edges of vegetation and close to the edges of the downwind side of the pond under tree branches, stumps or heavy cover. Fish these areas early morning or late evening for the larger fish. With the beginning of fall and cooler weather and a drop in the water temperature, the fish become less active until they reestablish themselves in their winter holding patterns in the deeper water. In general, bass will prefer to hold in deep water when the water temperatures are extremely cold or hot. Bass also move into deeper water during cold fronts and extreme weather change.
Topwater fishing is a fun year around even in the fall and winter months. Most of the ponds in our area are about 9 to 10 foot deep and normally do not freeze over. This allows you to fish patterns on the surface or close to the top of the surface all year around. The fish are much less active during the period so you must go to where they are. Remember- Food, Shade, and Safety and that is in deeper water during the colder weather. Their strike zone will be smaller since they are not going to use much energy to chase food. So you must allow time for the bass to see your fly and I retrieve my line 1 or 2 times slowly, stopping every 3 to 5 seconds. The colder the weather the longer I allow the stopping up to 30 seconds during the retrieving. I have found that a good number of my strikes have come when the fly is not moving.
Topwater fishing is fun in the summer months. During this period there is a lot of smaller baitfish available in the ponds and they are hanging around the edge of the ponds looking for Food, Shade ad Mostly Safety. But the big fish know that so that is where the start to take up their predator position waiting for a smaller baitfish to swim by. Remember small flies will catch big fish. Choose the right size and pattern of the dominant food source presenting a suitable imitation.
Remember – I have found that where there are panfish (bream) there will always be bass close by.