This winter has been a butt-kicker, but Pete Ponds isn’t worried. For one thing, the bass pro from Madison has plenty of warm clothing, and he’s thinking that recent weather patterns will produce more opportunities to catch fish during the seasonal transition period known as the prespawn.

Extremely cold weather across the south this winter has put a dent in the shad population. Winters always affect shad, but this one has been brutal, and it will likely impact March fishing — not totally in a bad way.

“I think that it’s going to push back the spawn a little bit, but also we’re having more of a threadfin shad kill than normal,” Ponds said. “That’s the main forage in all of our lakes in the south, but as the water gets into the 40s, it starts to kill the shad.

“That affects the fishing, but not necessarily in a negative way, but a positive way. It depletes the food supplies a little bit. Some of our lakes were overabundant in shad, so your odds of catching a fish certainly increase. It’s like having a buffet line with barely enough for everybody. All of a sudden, people will become more active looking for food.”

And aside from the supply-and-demand scenario, bass pro Gary Klein said the prespawn brings more quality and trophy-sized bass within reasonable reach of anglers than any other time of the year. Proximity, plus appetite, he said, equals great opportunity.

“Prespawn is a cool time of year, because Mother Nature is forcing the fish into the shallows,” Klein said. “They’re starting to sit up there in the warmth and incubate their eggs. They’re putting on weight for the spawn, and they’re taking care of all the bream and other