Spring is loved my many, and few love it any more than bass anglers
As temperatures rise and the woods green up, the annual spawning ritual takes off for most fish in both saltwater and freshwater environments, including the Waccamaw River in South Carolina’s Horry County.
Dana Rabon of Conway, S.C., a pro bass angler, is at home on the river. And spring is among her favorite times to chase a big-mouthed favorite.
“Bass start spawning when the water temperatures rise above 60 degrees,” said Rabon. She fishes LBAA Women’s Pro Bass Tour events all over the country but loves her home waters, especially during the spawn.
Rabon will fish throughout April, but she prefers the days of the moon peaks.
“We have two main spawns in the spring: the full moons around April when the water temperature is in the 60s,” she said. “The best bite is normally a few days before and after the full moon, but not on the day of the full moon. The fish don’t bite when they are on the bed on the day of the full moon.”
The Waccamaw is a tidal river
Bass will seek out sandy bottoms in shallow water to construct their beds. But in a river like the Waccamaw where heavy flows are common, spawning areas are limited.
“Marinas, shallow ponds, man-made creeks, natural creeks and other places without steady flow are where these fish go to spawn. And of course, you need a good, sandy bottom,” Rabon said.
Bass construct depressions from 1 to 3 feet wide to drop their eggs, and sandy bottom substrates are preferred. In most cases, they will be shallow spots, but that’s affected by the tide.
The Waccamaw and other neighboring blackwater rivers in the coastal area are tidal. In the areas where bass flourish, the tidal range will be only 1 to 3 feet. In most cases where the best fishing takes place, well upstream of saltwater influence, tidal impacts will be less than 2 feet. However, this small change in tide makes a huge difference to the fish and how much they bite, even during spawning conditions.
“In our coastal rivers, falling water is always the best,” Rabon said. “The falling water brings the bait closer to the fish.
Techniques for catching bedding bass on the Waccamaw aren’t much different from those used on the Santee Cooper reservoirs. Rabon utilizes her soft plastics with precision to encourage these bedding bass to take the bait.
“I use lots of different kind of plastics rigged weedless and without any added weight,” she said. “Plastic stickbaits, stick worms, jigs, crawfish, creature baits and any soft plastic you can move through the bedding areas slow. The best colors in the dark, river waters are dark colors like blue, black, junebug and watermelon with red fleck.”