It doesn’t seem like a couple of degrees should make a difference to bass. It absolutely does, though, especially during those times when overall water temperatures are extra cold or extra warm. Early in the year, any area that offers even slightly warmer water is likely to have more active fish.

One simple way to find warmer water is to start and finish your days later this time of year. The water cools overnight and warms through the day, so the afternoon typically offers the warmest water - even if the air temperature starts dropping toward evening.

When the sun has been shining, some of the best places to find warmer water are atop shallow flats. Flats are especially good if the water is stained because the particles in the water get warmed. Likewise with flats that are studded with stumps or boulders. Many of the most productive flats this time of year are near deep wintering areas that the fish can easily move out of to feed.

Another good place to find slightly warmer water and consequently more active bass on sunny days is near riprap, a sea wall or another concrete structure like a bridge abutment. Often the warmth won’t spread far from the structure, so both bass and their forage will stay tight to the structure.

After a big rain, areas where rivers, creeks and intermittent drains run in sometimes offer warmer water. Depending on main-lake temperatures, the warmth of the banks, and the nature of a rainfall, an inflow area might be warmer or cooler than other areas this time of year. Sometimes that’s obvious. Other times, you just have to go check. If you find warmer water, especially warmer water with a bit of current and stain, you mind find bass that are unseasonably aggressive.

Of course, if you’re near a lake that has a power plant on its shore and a warm-water discharge, don’t overlook the value of waters influenced by the discharge. Also, realize that the scope of the warming influence could be quite large. Lots of folks fish right at a “hotspot,” and that’s understandable as the warmest water often holds the most bass. However, those fish can be finicky both because of heavy pressure and because of a crazily big supply of natural forage. Check temperatures along banks that are a bit downlake or downwind from a hotspot. Often you’ll find water that’s notably warmer than most of a lake a fair distance from a discharge and fish that are much easier to catch.

The most important things to realize about water temperatures are that they do indeed vary from spot to spot and through the day, and that those differences make a difference. Think about the likely influencing factors, watch your temperature gauge, and pick spots accordingly, and you will catch more fish this time of year.