March 14, 2014 by Clark Wendlandt
Every place I've been this year - with the exception of Florida, which exists in its own little bubble - has had a really cold winter. It's a winter that seemingly just won't end. Just when you think it's about to warm up, boom, there's another bout with ice and really cold temperatures. As such, there are some intriguing questions developing: How delayed will the spawn be; how long might it last; and is water temperature the only variable that will be affected? In Texas, most lakes have still not seen much of a spawn yet. We would usually be in a full blown spawn right now, but the water temp is only in the mid 50s. As far as the spawn, the magic temperature is usually 60 degrees. However, I believe there are other factors at play such as water levels, length of days and the full or new moon phases. The other thing that many people don't realize is that the spawn, and the way bass react during the spawn, varies greatly from lake to lake. On some lakes, it seems to be only about water temperature. On other lakes, especially the Ozark-type lakes, bass may go into the spawning phase while the water is still in the mid 50s. On certain lakes, a female will stay around for a week or more after she lays her eggs; while on others, the bass will lay her eggs and be gone. And because some lakes get warm during a drawdown and there is just not enough cover in the water, the fish will just not spawn. Another thing we don't understand very well is how the length of days affect the spawn. The full and new moons are other factors, but they may not play as much of a role this year with it staying cold for so long. It's all pretty intriguing, but the question remains: How will that affect the spawn this year? My personal opinion is that the spawn will be compressed this year. In other words, the bass will be so ready to go when the temperatures finally get to the 60-degree range that they are going to go crazy. It will seem like every bass on the lake has gone to the bed at the same time. On Southern lakes, the spawn usually lasts for two months or more. On Okeechobee, it probably lasts for up to five months. On Northern impoundments, the spawn is way more compressed. In fact, I've seen a lake in Minnesota several years back where almost ever bass in the lake went at the same time. And all of that has to do with the length of days. As the days get longer, the more it pushes the window of the spawn. This year I think the cold may shorten how long the spawn lasts, but it should be wide open when it's going on. The other thing to remember is that every lake will be very different with regard to when the spawn actually occurs. To be sure, the spawn is one of the most intriguing parts of our sport. And this year, with the cold temperatures, it is about to bust wide open. I'm not sure exactly how long it will last, but it's going to be fun finding out. Good luck! Follow three-time FLW Tour Angler of the Year Clark Wendlandt at www.clarkwendlandt.com or on Facebook. The writer's opinions and observations expressed here are his own, and do not necessarily reflect or represent the views, policies or positions of FLW.