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Photo

Largemouth Movement Through The Water Column.


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#1 unionman

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Posted February 26 2012 - 10:53 AM

Ive recently been studying LMB movements. Specifically, water column movement. Or, how much bass move up or down in a given body of water. Now i know the key factor here is water temp. But i have found conflicting info on how much a LMB actually moves throughout the water column. Some reports say its only a few ft a day depending on time of yr and water depth. Others say they move from deep to shollow (to feed) at sunrise and sunset during the warm months. That could be as much as a 20 ft journey through the column. Is it specifically based on the time of year?? Anyone versed in this topic with some input would be greatly appreciated.

#2 flukemaster

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Posted February 26 2012 - 11:48 AM

I can only go off of my own experience. A lot of it has to do with time of year and water temp. The lake I guide on is shallow and has a lot of current and due to our management practices I have the rare opportunity to easily key in on bass movement throughout the day. (For those who know about the lake. This has nothing to do with the feeders. The bass still move and migrate just like bass on any given lake in the country.)

In the heat of mid-day in the summer the bass are all about the creek channels.(7 to 10ft deep) They hang out either with their belly on the bottom of the channel or just out of the current on something that breaks up the current. I catch them by dragging jigs or soft plastics down the channel or working a spinnerbait or crankbait along the outside edge of the channel. Then when the sun starts to get low. (about two hours before sundown) the bite stops. What is happening is the bass are beginning their migration to shallower water to feed for the evening. So I start to pitch to the spots where the bass go to when they are moving up. The spots are brush piles, stumps, or ends of points that are on the edge of the channel. I'll fish these spots for about a half our to 45 minutes. Then I start noticing a little surface action. That's when I grab a frog or buzzbait and go to work till dark.

#3 00 mod

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Posted February 26 2012 - 04:51 PM

hmmmmmm......topwater.......hmmmmm. sorry I way daydreaming there for a minuet.

Jeff

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#4 Randall

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Posted February 27 2012 - 05:28 AM

As a general rule most movement will be horizonal not up or down. It all has to do with the swimbladder and how it is connected to the equilibrium of the fish and what a fish has to go through to change the swimbladder. I have watched LM bass follow baits on my depthfinder from 15 feet down around 5 -8 feet before turning off and coming back up but that is a temporary move to feed. I have seen largemouth in very clear water make an approx 8-10 foot rise to the surface to follow a swimbait but go straight back down within seconds. Deeper fish from my observation have a greater ability to move up and down as opposed to shallow fish and I suspect that is from water pressure being more consistant at deeper depths. I have watched Largemouth from both overhead walkways over ponds and lake and from underwater in extremely clear lakes for many days and they just don't move up or down that often or much. Most all of the movement is horizonal. Fish suspend over deeper water and move shallow at that depth when they become active to feed. Some that don't suspend hold to heavy cover and are just inactive. I have talked to Raplh Manns, who many consider to be one of the best biologists when it comes to bass, on the subject and he has noted the same thing as a diver observing bass as have others. Nobody that I know of has taken the time to do a true scientific study and have it published and reviewed by peers so there is no 100% sure on this in the scientific community.

As far as fishermen many believe that the fish move up and down because they catch fish in the middle of the day deep and in the afternoon shallow. Many bait fish like threadfin shad don't have the same limitations that a bass does. Threadfin have no swimbladder so they make fast movements up and down throughout the day. They form tight bait balls under bright conditions and scatter more in low light conditions as a general rule. The bait movement, not the movement of the bass, causes the good shallow bite in the am and afternoon and the better deepwater conditions through out the day.

I was never taught to bass fish by anyone other then what I saw on TV way back 20-30 years ago which wasn't much back then to lean from. So I came up with my own system and beliefs from overservation and what I learned on the water catching fish. I figured out the horizonal movement of bass in clear water lakes and have used it for probably around 20 years to catch fish. Many of my biggest fish have been caught suspended over deeper water midday after locating the bass shallow earlier in the day or week. I have also reversed it and found the fish with my depthfinder suspended over deep water and caught them when they moved into shallower water later at the same depth they were suspended at. So my whole system of fishing that I use is based on horizonal movements of fish and my belief that LM don't usually make large daily movements up or down.


#5 unionman

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Posted February 27 2012 - 05:26 PM

Thank you both very much. Your responses are very helpfull. This does clarify a fews things but as all dedicated bassaholics, my quest for knowledge goes on!

#6 NCbassmaster4Life

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Posted February 27 2012 - 09:26 PM

As far as movement is concernd here is my 2 cents. Bass will move during weather changes and temperature changes, barometric pressure included. Not ALL bass are the same but most of this species follows a pattern depending on the time of year. I have seen monsters caught on a warm day in shallow water when it has been in the 30's-40's and that one warm front comes in and some bass will move from the depths to the closest shallow water and will feed on what they can it's like a hit or miss. You have to think a bass in cold water isn't going to use up it's energy to chase a bait that's why angler's like us fish slow during the cold. And I do agree about the bass moving horizontal then vertical...but that just may be the movement not the actual bite. The most important thing you need to take in effect is seasonal pattern and go off what you learn about pattern, everything else will fall into play, that's my 2 cents hope it helps.

-Andrew

#7 senko_77

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Posted February 27 2012 - 09:50 PM

Awesome info in this thread. Good stuff, Randall.

#8 Clint C.

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Posted February 27 2012 - 11:59 PM

It's so weird you brought this up because I've been going back and forth about this in my head recently.

John Hope who wrote "Trackin' Trophies" says there are 3 types of bass. Shallow water, Mid Depth and Deep water fish. According to his studies, I believe it was 16 years or more of tracking fish he said when a fish picks the depth range they are going to live at they don't leave it, except for the spawn each year. According to him this is the only time Largemouth will venture out of their normal range. For example, mid depth 8-12 feet.

Also according to John when there are extreme changes in temperature, unlike what most anglers think, the bass don't move from shallow to deep or deep to shallow. They simply stay closer to cover and become harder to catch because their strike zone can shrink down from 10ft to 10 inches.

I hear a lot now that spring is coming, and the ice is just starting to melt, that fish will come into shallow flats that are blocked by the wind and get sunshine all day. If we follow what John says this must be only the shallow range fish (who are most affected by weather changes), unless the bass are "fooled" into spawning conditions. The Mid and Deep water fish follow their same depth all year and feed along their horizontal "routes".

It's an interesting subject and I feel John is one of the most trusted researchers. I see no reason not to agree with what he's found.

#9 reason

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Posted February 28 2012 - 08:25 AM

Bass get to choose the depth they will live in, i'm speechless.

#10 Clint C.

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Posted February 28 2012 - 09:20 AM

I guess "picks" was a bad choice of words. The point is non the less that once a Largemouth ends up in its "homerange" depth wise it stays in that range.

#11 basscatcher8

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Posted February 28 2012 - 11:39 AM

I guess "picks" was a bad choice of words. The point is non the less that once a Largemouth ends up in its "homerange" depth wise it stays in that range.


So is that what they mean when you hear the talk about using the contour lines as migration routes or roads for the fish to move around basically? I know contour lines dont exist in nature like on a map but you get what I mean. A deep water fish finds that path that stays on the same depth and follows off a point back in to a cut or tributary something like that. This is all very interesting I am enjoying the discussion.

#12 Clint C.

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Posted February 28 2012 - 01:05 PM

Yeah I believe that's what they mean. One thing I found interesting in John's book was pretty much exactly what you're asking. That they will stay along a certain "road" or "path".

Attached is an image of what he was talking about. In this he says the fish won't go over the hump as a shortcut, it will always follow it's path along it.

Attached Thumbnails

  • basspath.jpg