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Determining Fish Forage?

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I was just wondering how you guys determine what the fish on your local lake prefer to eat?  I have been fishing a local lake for awhile with no luck until someone told me that the fish actually primarily eat crawfish which has totally changed my approach to fishing it.

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use your DNR website to find out what species are in your lake. this is a good starting point, also ask your local bait shops for their input might be another good avenue.

 

Mitch

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This is a very good topic. Let's keep it rollin! I would explore the shallows of your favorite body of water at all times of the year. This will give you an idea as to what hatches when. Bait fish tend to stay in protected shallow water for survival/feeding purposes. If you fish for trout, or anything else you plan on keeping for table fair, make sure you check the contents of their stomachs upon cleaning!If you can determine your lake contains  perch or craws, these are some staple favorites for smallmouth. Algae bloom and other plant life is also an important thing to keep an eye. This attracts the bait fish, in turn attracting feeding fish.

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If you're in a boat that has a livewell and you catch a keeper size fish put it in the livewell for a little bit and then check to see if the fish has emptied it's stomach in your livewell. You'll often find small, partially digested baitfish or pieces of crawdads swirling around in there. If you keep fish you can always check the stomach when you fillet them also. 

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I bring an untra light rod with a tiny inline spinner or grub on a jighead and see what little fish bite!

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There are prey that bass feed on seasonally, most are obvious and listed by your local fishery management sites. Some anglers forget bass are predators and will eat a wide variety of critters like dragon fly and their nymphs called darner nymphs, hellgrammite, small water snakes, baby turtles, salamanders, frogs, worms, small birds, young ducklings, suckers, leeches, lizards, sculpin, young of the year; catfish, bass, carp, crappie, trout, bluegill, green sunfish, crayfish, minnows like shiners and chubs, several shad species, herring, peach etc.

The prey that is most abundant and easiest to eat is the prey bass prefer.

Tom

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There are prey that bass feed on seasonally, most are obvious and listed by your local fishery management sites. Some anglers forget bass are predators and will eat a wide variety of critters like dragon fly and their nymphs called darner nymphs, hellgrammite, small water snakes, baby turtles, salamanders, frogs, worms, small birds, young ducklings, suckers, leeches, lizards, sculpin, young of the year; catfish, bass, carp, crappie, trout, bluegill, green sunfish, crayfish, minnows like shiners and chubs, several shad species, herring, peach etc.

The prey that is most abundant and easiest to eat is the prey bass prefer.

Tom

 

 

So you are saying I need an Asian Carp swim bait??  :eyebrows: :eyebrows: :eyebrows:

 

Jeff

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So you are saying I need an Asian Carp swim bait??  :eyebrows: :eyebrows: :eyebrows:

 

Jeff

Matt lures makes a carp swimbait!

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I'm going all in!!!! :tongue8:

 

Jeff

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Bass are curious, too. I'm not sure a Cavitron Buzzbait represents anything in the natural world.

 

 

 

 

:fishing-026:

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How to identify primary forage? Some good advice above. As msjeverson24 suggested, most state fisheries dept's survey water bodies and if you run down the right people, they can fill you in. Most fisheries people I've contacted were happy to chat and help out. But ... nothing beats spending time on a water body and keeping your finger on its’ pulse.

 

WRB's right that things change seasonally, in terms of prey species, availability, vulnerability, and size -more so than most anglers realize. Each year new batches of prey fishes appear, and some years are better than others for diff species. And they grow quickly through the season, and their numbers get cropped down as the season progresses.

 

Regionally, many waters do have a somewhat consistent forage base. Most reservoirs contain gizzard shad and/or blueback herring (in the south). In natural lakes and ponds it may be bluegills. In the Great Lakes it can be goby's, perch, and alewife. In many northeastern natural waters it tends to be perch.

 

The primary forage species in the waters I presently fish are bluegill, largemouth bass, yellow perch, black crappie, crayfish, and carp -pretty much in that order, but this order varies water to water and year to year.

 

As to the importance of knowing the forage base...

It's true bass are opportunistic and successful almost everywhere they've been introduced. But, knowing the habits of primary prey species is worthwhile bc, outside of the spawn and extreme environmental conditions, they pretty much dictate bass whereabouts and activity. And I'd venture to say that the prey's whereabouts and habits are more important to the angler than any given bait LOOKING like that particular prey. Despite this, I can’t resist the attempt at “mimicry” or at least “resemblance”. It may be the trout flyfisher in me that keeps whispering to me to “match the hatch”...

 

CrankandGill.jpg

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For me its about season... early spring its crayfish, mid spring thru summer its baitfish pattern for numbers and big crawdad bait for a BIG bite.

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if you cant find the forage, match whats in the water you are fishing...greend or darker for weeds, browns for dirt and rocks...

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1. Ask local tackle shops.

2. Ask local fishermen.

3. Fish for bluegills and crappie. What did you catch?

4. Look around in the water next to the bank for crawfish.

5. Feel the belly of any bass you catch.

 

If the belly feels soft they are probably eating minnows.

If the belly feels crunchy it is probably crawfish.

If the belly feels like there are bones in there probably bluegills and bream.

 

6. Look into the bass' mouth to note any fish tails or signs of crawfish remains.

7. If you have a live well, bass will throw up in the live well and you can note the contents.

8. Go to your state's department of fisheries web site and look up the body of water and note if they have posted the species and if any crawfish are in the water.

9. Call yoru state's deparment of fisheries and speak to a biologist about the body of water and what forage may be in there.

10. If there are any conservation officers patroling the area ask them. They know what people catch on what baits.

 

If bank fishing and you think overturnnig a rock or two to look for crawfish is a good idea pleae use a stick or rod. There can be other things hiding in the rocks along the bank that you don't want to get angry.

 

Good luck.

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I vote for having this entire post pinned in the "Best of Bass Resource".

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