How to fish for bass, bass behavior, and how to catch largemouth bass are the topic of Gardenfork Radio. Mike is a former tournament bass fisherman, and tells us how to find bass in a lake, and largemouth bass behavior throughout the year. Mike gives bass fishing tips and goes into largemouth bass behavior.
Ice-out and spring:
After ice out, the bass are still very lethargic. They are cold blooded animals. However, as the water temperatures start to rise, they begin to move and feed after a long sleepy winter.
Places to look in the spring:
Northern sides of lakes, ponds, and backwaters. The sun is lower in the sky, northern sides of lakes get more direct sun. This is especially true where there are large trees, hills, and other tall obstructions on the south side of the lake.
Wind. In short, wind from the north is cold. It cools the surface and pushes it south. Wind from the south is warm. It warms the surface and moves it north.
Shallow water warms faster than deep water. Especially when the bottom is dark.
Stones. Stones on the shore will pick up heat from the sun and hold it. This is true of sea walls and bridges made of stone as well.
Late spring / Early Summer:
When the water gets up to around 57 - 60 degrees, Bass will start their spawn cycle. Some areas will close fishing to allow for the spawn to happen. To sustain a fishery, fish need to have a chance to reproduce.
Male fish will take up residence in shallow water, typically with a harder bottom, and they will use their body to clear out a circular nest on the bottom. They will become territorial around their nest and will do their best to keep it clean.
During this time, females will stage in deeper water adjacent to the nesting area. They will join the males in the shallower water, laying their eggs, and then moving back to the deeper water. Males will fertilize the eggs and stay with the nest until the fry are hatched. For a while, the male will aggressively protect the fry and will eventually leave the small fish on their own and recede into deeper water.
Usually, it’s during the spawn and in the post spawn where fishing will die off some as the fish are not up to chasing food because they are spent from the spawn. Any fish caught during the spawn are usually males and it’s usually a territorial and protective strike, not one for food.
Summer / Late Summer
Bass move into their summer patterns after the spawn. The summer pattern really differs from lake to lake, but there are some generalities that you can work with in order to identify the patterns on your lake / pond.
Oxygen is less soluable in warmer water. Backwaters that are shallow and baked by the summer sun have lower oxygen levels, so fish will avoid them.
Deeper lakes (20’+ usually) will stratify over the summer. Warmer is water is less dense and it remains at the top, cold water, heavy and oxygen depleted sinks and stays at the bottom. There’s a structure known as the thermocline. It’s where the water changes temperature drastically within a foot or two. On depth finders it will show up as a line. You can feel it when swimming in a lake. The oxygen level below the thermalcline is very low and you should spend your time fishing above that line.
Bass are averse to bright sunlight. If there is an area of clear water with no cover, it’s best to avoid that area.
Bass relate to things. The things could be trees in the water, stumps, rocks, underwater dropoffs or other topographical changes, and weed lines.
Weed lines form because plants require sunlight to live. The depth of a weed line will vary with water clarity. Muddier lakes have shallower weedlines and clearer lakes have deeper weed lines. Some times you can follow them in a boat visually. Usually a depth finder will be needed to identify the line. Once you gain experience, you will be able to do it by feel.
Bass will feed in the early morning hours and at sundown, when the sun is low in the sky.
Fish will prefer areas where there are shallow flats near deeper water. They can stay in the deeper water during the day, and easily move up to the shallower flat to feed.
During the summer, I will work the surface early in the morning. As the sun rises, I will work 3 - 5 feet in depth, and then move out to the deeper weed lines during the hot noon hours.
The sun starts to get lower in the sky, the days are shorter, and the air cools. The water begins to cool as well. Spring patterns begin to re-emerge, but without any of the spawn problems. Fish become aggressive, feeding for the winter.
Weedy cover begins to die. Where there may have been 100 acres of green underwater vegetation, you now have 50 acres of dead grass, 30 acres of green grass, and 10 acres of bare bottom. The bass will concentrate in the 30 acres of green grass making them easier to find -- if you know where the green grass is.
Then there is the fall turnover, reuining fishing everywhere. The lake that stratified over the summer months changes. The surface water becomes cold and heavy. It sinks to the bottom, pushing warmer “middle water” to the top. Eventually this convective current makes it’s way to the bottom. The lake “turns over”. The thermalcline dissapears and water temperature is uniform, top to bottom. However, all of the crud from the bottom rides the current to the surface.
The lake becomes cloudy or muddy and the fishing suffers until the turnover is complete and the sediment settles again.
Fish become more and more lethargic as the water cools. You will find them near warm water and green vegitation.
photo by Jusben