Long story short — it’s a weird year on Sam Rayburn Reservoir.
Guides have been seeing cooler conditions affect largemouth bass, delaying spawning behavior for the time being.
“It’s the craziest year we’ve ever had down here,” guide Bill Fondren said. “The deeper water is still cold; it’s not a normal year.”
Temperatures are generally ranging from 60 to 68 degrees throughout the day, and guides have differing opinions on what effect that has.
Guide Will Kirkpatrick is of the opinion that the majority of the bass have not been spawning, based on what he is seeing from the bass themselves.
“Everybody thinks that since it is the middle of April, the bass are spawning,” Kirkpatrick said. “It’s just not true.”
He said the females’ gonadal openings have not begun to dilate — a telltale sign of pre- or post-spawning conditions. The white bass and crappie have not begun to spawn yet either, he said. They usually begin slightly before the largemouth.
Roy Sanford, a guide on the north end of the lake, said he is seeing more bass spawning than not. Conditions can be different on either end of Sam Rayburn.
“It’s a little different on the south end of the lake, but they’re in shallow water, almost all of them,” Sanford said.
Nevertheless, the guides have seen some success in a strange spring season. Soft plastics — worms and swimming jigs — are the baits of choice for many anglers. Kirkpatrick said he has had some luck deeper, and rising water levels have created two grass beds on the banks.
“The smaller fish are going right to the banks,” Kirkpatrick said.
He caught around 30 bass on the lake Thursday, and said the majority of them struck soft plastic worms.
Fondren said the largemouth bass are hitting some frogs and swim baits in the shallows, as well. While the fish are striking, he said the conditions just don’t match what is normal for the time of year.
“Dadgummit,” he said, “it’s just not right.”