Fish the Spawn— All of Them
February 20th, 2019 by Curtis Condon

A fly fisherman welcomes a new day at McTush Cut, Lake Okeechobee. Sunrise, plenty of vegetation and bountiful waters offer him and other anglers on the lake opportunities for a day of world-renowned fishing.
Photo submitted by reader Steven Cook, Moore Haven

Most anglers recognize the importance of the bass spawning cycle. They know that understanding it can mean the difference between success and failure.

What’s surprising is that more of them don’t pay attention to the spawning cycles of baitfish targeted by bass, such as shad and bluegill. Understanding them can increase the likelihood of success even further.

For example, shad is a bass favorite that spawns not long after the peak of the bass spawn. That creates a feeding frenzy and opportunities for bass anglers if they know where and when to fish.

Fortunately, the spawn—bass or otherwise—is relatively predictable. It’s all about moon phases, time of day and water temperature.

The first of the four stages of the bass spawn begins when water temperatures are between 55 and 60 degrees. Bluegill spawn at about the same time, while shad begin spawning when the water temperature is approximately 10 degrees warmer.

Most spawning cycles peak during full and new moon phases. The time of day the spawn occurs varies by species. Shad spawn along the banks of feeder creeks, inlets and draws in early morning. Bluegill spawn throughout the day.

Two of the best lakes in the state to put this knowledge to use are Okeechobee and Istokpoga. They consistently rank among the top bass-fishing lakes in the country.

FWC Celebrates 20 Years
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission celebrates its 20th anniversary this year. It was formed by merging the Marine Fisheries Commission, Game and Fresh Water Fish Commission, and the Division of Law Enforcement of the Department of Environmental Protection in 1999.

What Day is It?

  • March 20, Spring begins.
  • March 30, Take a Walk in the Park Day.

Catch of the Month
Here are prime fishing opportunities around the state in March.

  • The Keys: bluefish, amberjack, jack, cobia, bonito, grouper, tarpon, mackerel, barracuda, pompano, sailfish, tuna, shark and snapper.
  • Central: snook and bass.
  • Northwest: bonito, grouper, seatrout, snapper, triggerfish, mackerel, pompano and bass.
  • Central West: bass, crappie, flounder, bluefish, drum, seatrout, sunfish, tripletail, snapper and sheepshead.
  • Southwest: bass, barracuda, drum, crappie, sheepshead, ladyfish, snook, bluegill, mackerel, pompano, grouper and snapper.

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