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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Sometimes we get so involved with the details we loose sight of our objective.
The goal of every bass fisherman is to catch bass. Don't loose sight of the basics, to catch bass you must fish where the bass are. Rule 1., find the bass. Rule 2., determine what the bass are feeding on.
Understanding seasonal periods helps you to find the bass, where they should be located based on water temperature by the calendar period. You still must be observant and look for the bass. The easiest way to locate the bass is to find the prey the bass are feeding on and the calendar periods will help to reduce those choices to the types of prey available.
Once you have located the bass and know what the bass are feeding on, then it's time to try to catch them and apply all the details, presentation techniques and lure types, that you know that should catch bass based on the the type of structure and cover you are fishing.
Tom
 
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I agree Tom. Another thing to consider is when the bass are feeding. This is different in various lakes. For instance most lakes have a pretty decent early and late bite. That is a given. But some lakes have a better mid morning bite or mid afternoon bite. In fact, some of the larger fish feed more in the middle of the day then early or late.

In some instances the big fish might even feed more in the middle of the night when it is quiet and all the boats are gone. In the lake I fish allot Garcia, it is easy to locate fish but not bigger fish. This lake is an awesome fishery with quit a few fish in it but the size of what is caught is relatively small. My best fish is only a 6.3lber in it. A lake right next to it and that is actually the same water shed is the Stick Marsh which has double digit bass like crazy. That lake is catch and release only so maybe that is a factor? Lots of people keep 5-6lbers from Garcia.

But I can't say I have figured out when and where the bigger fish feed in this lake. I can catch 4-5 lbers fairly regular at least a few per 4 outings but finding or catching the bigger fish still eludes me there.

The lake is shallow and very weedy. Bass can hide anywhere. There is a borrow pit that is 10 feet deep and is where I have been fishing lately. Everywhere else is 4 feet or less around it. The lake also has a canal that is 14 feet deep that runs to the Stick Marsh in the NW corner eventually to a spillway and one in the SW corner that runs for a mile or two till it gets clogged up with grass. That one is 10-12 feet deep.

Now that spawning season is over with I have been keying in on the pit area more but I am going to be looking at those canals more as those are the deepest parts of the lake. This whole lake is full of hydrilla and Coontail grass. It has spatterdock (Lilly pads) and levees all over the place that provide barriers. There are reeds in some of the canals that grow in a foot or so of water right at the edge. Most of the lake is a big flat 3-4 feet deep.

I would fish this lake at night more but the bugs here in Florida really are a problem. They literally crawl all over you. They are not even mosquitoos they are some kind of gnat or flying insect. At dusk it literally rains these things and they bounce off of you. Florida has some great fisheries but Alligators and bugs are problems that other states don't have to deal with. In Texas it was very pleasant fishing at night. Only dusk and dawn was it a problem. Here it is all the time.
 

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I wonder, might this be better under "do we have too much knowledge"? I think that what Tom is saying is very simplistic, I don't mean this in a negative way. I know that there are times I head for the water thinking I have everything well in hand only to find out later that my assumptions were, well, misguided & I had to go back to square 1. Find the fish, then find what they are eating or hitting. I know that Tom preaches checking the water at the launch site for temp, clarity, & bait fish but I normally am not able to do that before a tourny. I don't get to prefish during the week unless the tourny site is close to home. I usually have to find the fish &then figure out what they eating on tournament day. I try to go in with an educated guess, time of year, etc. but it is only when I keep an open mind that I'm able to do well.
Rodney
 

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Rodney, however much detail you ignore about the seasonal factors, temperature. etc. is directly related to success locating bass on a lake you didn't get to fish before blast off. That's just it. There are things to consider that work regardless of your experience on a fishery. For instance, if you were ignorant about spawning, ideal water temperatures, and things like tides or moon positions, you might end up boating 75 miles looking for something you DO understand, like maybe pre-spawning bass. What Tom is writing about is being able to locate the lake area(s) bass are most likely to go to before actually locating the bass. You can do much of that locating in the motel room with a good lake map.

Jim
 

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Great post, Tom. I think we are all guilty of trying to catch the fish in our area, instead of finding the area the fish are in. How do you figure out where the baitfish are without a main motor, though? There have been times that I fished blind to that, because I couldn't find a school of baitfish anywhere on my depthfinder. As to fishing a tournament without that info, I wouldn't waste my money.
 

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If all the possibilities spell out "baitfish in the backs of coves", then I'll begin searching there. Just watching what's going on leaving a launch ramp can give you clues. If I see gulls diving the surface, I'll break up their party and get in the middle of that action. If I see a heron patiently waiting on a shallow submerged hump I know to check that hump out. But my primary search method remains the sonar. If it's set right and working well, I'll see plenty of baitfish balls if I start smartly, where baitfish ought to be, which happens to often be where the bass are. Two reasons. Fish have preferences where to hang out. Bass and shad both prefer water with ideal DO, pH, temp, light penetration. Bass seem to know to stick around "green water" because shad are attracted there. The green is plankton. Secondly, bass like to eat shad. Shad prefer open water where there's greater safety, but sometimes must go shallow to survive. They also go shallow to spawn. I can smell their ooze, and so can other fish.

So, on your favorite lake, can you answer these questions?
1. What bass season is happening?
2. What parts of the lake are best for the predicted bass activity?
3. What natural aids, like birds, do you have there to help find baitfish?
4. Can you easily spot baitfish on sonar? Where should baitfish be right now? Open water, coves, pockets?
5. Do you know the water conditions? Do they match bass season for ideal scenarios?
6. What types of forage are most active now?
7. Are bass using cover or structure? Can you readily identify the cover species there?

If you can't be sure about all of those and probably other factors particular to your lake you are indeed likely "fishing blind" until you stumble upon a successful pattern.

Jim
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
What motivated me to post this topic was PM from a member who had studied all the seasonal information and selected the suggested lures to target pre spawn bass and blanked on his fishing trip. He did everything correctly, except fish where the bass actually were located. The right lures at the right time in the right locations, only the bass were not there or not at the depth he was fishing.
About a month before the Amsitad tournament a local asked me on the BassInsider board where I thought the tournament would be won. Keep in mind that I have never seen a map of Amistad and never been there. My prediction was to fish the outside major points that had secondary selves in 25 to 35 feet of water and that lead to spawning flats. I would fish jigs on the selves and move following the break line into the bay and locate any wood cover. I suggested to fish swim baits about the size and color of of tilopia over and down into the wood cover located near the spawning flats because the bite, in my opinion was going to be a classic pre spawn, on big female staging fish.
How could I predict the winning pattern a month before the Elite 50 event, just a lucky guess. No, you simply need to understand basic bass behavior and apply that to the seasonal period. The bass had to be staging and all that was needed is to actually locate the bass and present a lure that the bass were targeting.
Tom
 
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This is why I think Florida has some of the toughest fishing in the country. All the things that are discussed here do not work here. If someone wanted an idea on what is going on at the boat ramp in Garcia would never know what to do in this lake. It is a rectangle and is mostly 3-4 feet deep.

All this to say the best thing is time on the water because knowing this or that and what is going on in coves, deep water, points, creek channels etc mean nothing in some waters. Sometimes we just have to put 2 and 2 together to figure out each lakes particular patterns.
 

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Jim, you're right I reread Tom's post & saw that I misread it the first time. Of course we must know the season to have an idea where to begin. This time of year it can be difficult to know from 1 week to the next, unfortunatly that is what I deal with. In a couple of weeks I'll be able to start fishing a couple of evenings after work, of course that is about the time the seasonal patterns become more predictable up here.
Rodney
 

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Even before a tournament it ought to be possible to walk down to the water and look at it. One glance can give clues as to visibility. A thermometer on a string would get the temperature. Use a white one so you can measure visibility. Scum washed ashore often contains parts of prey or whole shad drifted in and beached. Piles of prey parts are left behind by overnight raccoons. A trip to a fish cleaning station would yield some extremely valuable information, particularly stomach contents, presence of eggs, condition of eggs (fresh or aged), and general condition of the fish.

I do what I have to do to get an idea of what to expect. Like Tom said, that first trip from the launch ramp can get you a lot of information. BTW, lots of tournaments are won on fish taken within a mile of a launch ramp. If allowed, while lining up and waiting for blast-off run the sonar and study any predator/prey activity, noting depth, thinking of places to go based on that depth. Water temperature gets a big clue going towards bass season, plus historic dates for each region.

If the seasons seem to be bouncing back & forth, regard the bass as remaining put wherever they had moved to at last observation. They will mostly just adjust to different depths.

Jim
 
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