Caldemeyer Says Warming Trend Will Heat Up Conroe

Published on 02-21-2021

Caldemeyer Says Warming Trend Will Heat Up Conroe

By Pete Robbins

Imagine showing up to weigh-in with a ten pounder and not having one of the three biggest fish of the day. Or bringing in one of nine and it’s not in the top ten overall fish. That’s the kind of situation that could confront the Big Bass Tour competitors at Lake Conroe this coming weekend. In fact, that’s what happened just three years ago, when anglers brought three fish over eleven pounds to the scales, three more over ten, and nine over nine pounds during an early March weekend.

Things haven’t let up much since then. In 2019, a BBT event at the same time produced two over ten and five more over nine. Last year there were three double digits and another over nine. The way things are shaping up, said Texas guide James Caldemeyer, spectators and contestants should expect more of the same February 26th through the 28th.

“There are definitely some giants in there,” he said. “But they’re very temperature-sensitive.” The inclement weather that has tortured Texans has likely shut down the Florida-strain bass, but it also means that they’ll be ready to chew when things improve, and with a consistent spell of warm temperatures on the way things are ready to get right. “As soon as the water temperature warms up just a few degrees those fish are going to get active. In the pre-spawn stage, when they feel the need to push up they’re going to push up – and late February from President’s Day into the first part of March is usually some of our best pre-spawn action. It’s almost like they’re busting at the seams.”

He’d probably focus on the north part of the lake, especially the area known as The Jungle, because it’s shallower, and therefore warms up quickly, and is protected from the dreaded north winds.

“It’s the same thing we do at Fork,” he said. “You want to go as far north and protected as you can find.” Once he got there, he’d work hard to cover water, hitting as many key areas as possible in the course of the day. Those key areas include the transition spots and highways to major spawning areas, including ditches, drains and secondary points. “It doesn’t have to be a big change of depth. It could simply be a 2 foot flat that drops into a 4 or 5 foot depression. But once you get bit or catch a fish or two, be sure to turn around and make another pass, even if it’s just a 20 or 30 yard stretch. It’s all a reaction bite.”

A bladed jig will no doubt produce several hourly winners, and flipping boat docks and other visible cover with a jig could be a player, but Caldemeyer would likely rely mostly on two Berkley hard baits. The first is the Warpig, a lipless crankbait with a distinctive sound that triggers strikes at this time of year. The other is the Frittside, a flat-sided crankbait that John Cox used to “completely annihilate” the fish during an early-season FLW tournament last year.

“It could be a total game changer,” Caldemeyer said. “Working it like a lipless crankbait, but it gets through overgrowth and stumps and timber much better and excels when the water is cold.”

On the heels of a season-opener on the Harris Chain that produced eight fish of nine pounds or more, but which topped out at 9.99 and 9.95, respectively, the Big Bass Tour is primed for its first double-digit bass of the year, and the venue could not set up more perfectly. Just make sure to pay attention to the live leaderboard, because a ten pounder brought in at the wrong time is a terrible thing to waste.