by Ron Johnson
March is a great time to be in Arizona whether you are a resident or a visitor looking for a break from the long winter.
While others are looking to play a round of golf or attend a Spring Training game, I get excited because this is my favorite time of the year to go fishing!
The days are getting longer, the desert is heating up, and the fishing can be red hot now all the way through May. This is often why most people experience some of their best fishing days or land that “Fish of a Lifetime” during this time of year.
Fish have been lethargic due to the cold winter weather and cannot wait for the water to warm up so they can begin migrating from their deep wintering areas to the shallow spawning grounds to begin the reproduction cycle. The males move up first, followed by the usually larger females. The fish will often be hungry as they make this migration into the shallows. Once they find a suitable area to make their nest, they will become very defensive protecting it from predators after the female lays her eggs.
Points and offshore ledges next to or leading back into shallow protected flats or coves are spots to target first. These areas are often called “staging areas” and where you will often find schools of fish waiting to make their move. These deeper areas are also where you will find the higher percentage of bigger fish. Big fish do not like to stay in shallow water for long which is one of the reasons most shallow anglers don’t catch as many as other anglers who are comfortable with offshore fishing.
Again, the springtime can be the best opportunity not only for numbers, but also one of the best times to land that Trophy Fish. And as the water continues to warm, activity will continue to pick up through May. Jerkbait or Chatterbait lures are great when looking for those hungry or pre-spawn bass and those defending fry (offspring). These faster moving presentations resemble a Bluegill, Shad or other baitfish, which can often get you some vicious strikes.
Although I prefer to use these lures in search of the most active fish first, I recommend also slowing down by tying on a Drop Shot or Plastic Stick Worm Bait, which provide slow moving presentations that make it hard for Bass to resist.
These are some of my recommendations, but the playbook will open up come April, which will allow you to fish using Crankbaits to Topwater and everything in between.
Fishing is fantastic but remember it is most important during this time of year to practice catch and release. Everyone has a right to keep their catch within the regulations but releasing the bigger fish is critical to reproduction and ensuring great fishing in the future.