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Cool Water Bass Fishing

Recently, Locklear Sport Fish biologist Jay Haffner slipped out of work a little early to fish for “pre” pre-spawn Largemouth Bass in one of the lakes they manage in Hale Co. In late January and February, following a day or so of sunny weather, air and water temperatures edge above 50°F, schooling Threadfin Shad seek warmer water near the surface and lethargic bass follow them.

All of these fat, happy bass were chasing Threadfin Shad at the surface and caught on chugger and torpedo topwater baits or shad-colored jerkbaits and shallow running crankbaits in the afternoon.

Jay and Dave Rogas of Birmingham caught smaller bass on swimbaits and rattletraps while casting closer to the bank and near off-shore brushpiles.

We are still about a month away from beginning to fertilize most ponds in west-Alabama. The water is still cold enough to sting your hands and air temperatures fall like a rock when the sun drops below the tree line.

For an “eating machine” like Largemouth Bass, as the dead of winter drives water temperatures down and their metabolism slows, fish continue to feed. However, during the “pre” pre-Spawn, as days lengthen and water slowly warms on sunny days in late January and early February, bass sense the need to “fatten up”. The schooling behavior of Threadfin Shad near the surface triggers lazy strikes of large, lethargic bass. On a single cast, I counted 6 “missed” strikes on my topwater bait. Big bass want to attack schools of Threadfin Shad, but they appear to be waking up from their hibernation and moving in slow motion. Savvy anglers will slow down their lure presentation accordingly.

This lake in Hale County is fertilized aggressively and agricultural lime was added a couple of winters ago. Club members strictly follow size and bag limits on Largemouth Bass. The harvest of smaller bass is encouraged so forage populations can remain strong, and the larger bass that remain can grow bigger due to less competition. Remember, the secret of growing big bass: grow the food that feeds them - bite-size bream, Threadfin Shad, Golden Shiners, and Tilapia.

If you desire to rachet up the level of pond management and develop a consistent

“topwater bite” then Threadfin Shad are a “must have”. Locklear Sport Fish stocks Threadfin Shad beginning in the spring. Adult Threadfin Shad tend to school offshore away from the bank and remain “bite-size” their entire life. They are a high calorie forage that lack spines and therefore easily slides down the gullets of bass.

Locklear Sport Fish is a full-service pond/lake management company with a large fish hatchery located on Highway 61 in Newbern, AL (Hale Co.). Locklear Sport Fish specializes in:

1. Stocking of sport fish (e.g. Largemouth Bass, Bluegill, Shellcracker and Coppernose bream, Black Crappie, Channel Catfish), forage fish (e.g. Threadfin Shad, Fathead Minnows, Golden Shiner, Tilapia) and grass carp (White Amur).

2. Liming and fertilizing ponds/lakes and feeding bream.

3. Performing electrofishing surveys using a state-of-the-art shockboat to assess your sport and forage fish populations, and removing small bass from bass-crowded ponds/lakes.

4. Performing FREE pond/lake assessments and seining surveys to verify bass and bream are spawning successfully. Water quality/lime testing is included.

5. Identifying and controlling nuisance pond weeds, spraying herbicides, and stocking Grass Carp.

6. Renovating ponds/lakes (starting completely over).

7. Creating or enhancing fish habitat for new or existing ponds/lakes.

8. Selling and installing Texas HunterÒ fish feeders.

Our state-of-the-art shockboat allows us to thoroughly examine your entire fish population. This enables us to recommend and implement management strategies to ensure your goals are met and your fishing improves. Our passion is helping folks with their fish ponds at a fair and honest price. No one will out work us. Our focus is your fishery.

If you need any of the services Locklear Sport Fish provides, please contact us immediately at I look forward to visiting with you.

Best wishes and good fishing,

Jay Haffner

C: 205 534-0515

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