Handle fishing in spring mindfully

Published 3:51 pm Wednesday, February 27, 2013

I figured I had better write this column early since the fish spawn started a month early in March last year. Late March, through May is the peak spawning months for many species in our area lakes, ponds and rivers. And bed fishing, especially for largemouth bass is a very popular method to catching fish.

Bed fishing involves moving around the shore looking for fish beds, usually a round or semi round “white spot” on the bottom in shallow coves and pockets. When a bed is found, the angler will cast various baits into the bed to agitate the male guard until it bites, then it is kept in the live well so the larger female will defend the “guardless” nest.

So, what’s wrong with that? First of all, most of the bigger females that are caught will be kept out of the water for long periods having many pictures taken. This is more stressful on the fish because the warmer water temps than the colder months. Then many are paraded around all day being beat around in a live well and, if fortunate enough, released miles away from their nest. And for many of the bigger ones, it’s a trip to the taxidermist.

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Studies show an average largemouth will lay several thousand eggs, with an average of less than 10 making it to maturity. The odds are stacked against our future brood, from bluegills, carp and turtles, to cold fronts, falling water and us the angler.