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Cosmic Clock

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Since it's out on the www and freely available, I figured it's okay if I post this without seeking permission.

 

If you're having trouble finding fish (catching them is another matter of course), it might be useful to go back to the basics. I hope Tom will chime in here.

 

P.S. The moon phases Tom mentions have not been the better ones for me. But that's all right, I probably fish shallower and faster. As long as you find the moon phases that work for you, it's all good.

 

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THE COSMIC CLOCK... AND BASS BEHAVIOR 
By Tom Young

Introduction:

A cycle is usually thought of as a measure of time in which something starts and stops. For example, the sun rising to its next rising is one cycle called a 24 hour period. This circular movement of revolving objects always having a starting point only to return to start again is the basic law of the cosmic clock.

The Cosmic Clock law tells us that bass will return to exactly the same locations every year of their life cycle. Their rhythm will also return to the same condition within each feeding cycle. When environmental conditions are exactly the same, bass react exactly the same no matter where they are. Bass search out conditions favorable to their survival.

The pace which bass live is called rhythm. This rhythm is broken into five basic categories: Very active, active, neutral, negative and very negative. These break down into percentages like this: 70% neutral, 5% very negative, 5% very active, 10% active and 10% negative. The life cycle of bass is also broken into seven basic categories: Pre-spawn, spawn, post- spawn, Spring, Summer, Fall and Winter. The basses' habitat, surrounding environment, totally governs the calendar periods. Water temperature is the most important factor, controlling most activity. The water condition, including weed growth, clarity, chemistry, oxygen, etc., determines their location.

Basic bass behavior is very simple, they are usually the prime predators within their environment, their prime concern is survival; seek prey, eat, rest.

How do you recognize the basses' rhythm? Or calendar periods? First, to recognize rhythm we must observe water conditions. Are bait fish active chasing insects, or are they located suspended under boat docks and around weed breaks. Are birds grouped and feeding on schooled bait fish or scattered along the shoreline feeding on insects? Active bait fish indicate active bass; neutral bait, neutral bass, etc.

Calendar periods vary but basically water temperature is the prime factor: 58° - 62° indicates pre-spawn, 62° - 65° is spawn, 63° - 65° is post-spawn, 65° - 73° is Spring, 68° - 80° is Summer, 65° - 73° is Fall, and 48° - 61° is Winter. (Note: The Thermocline only regulates location, not calendar periods). Bass school during pre-spawn, post-spawn, Fall and Winter period and scatter into small groups and singles during spawn, Spring, Fall and Winter; and horizontally migrate during post-spawn and Summer periods. These are behavior factors which are important keys determining calendar periods.

General Instructions:

1. Start at the center color dot and first surrounding ring, which represents' monthly moon phase and rhythm. The six day periods of the new and full moon are active periods, because they coincide with daily tidal affluence and active sun phases. Daily lunar gravity affects are not shown because of many variances, see tide or solunar charts for high and low or major and minor times. Gravity has a minimum effect on daily rhythm during mid-day, unless there is an overcast weather condition present or extremely light fishing pressure.

2. The second ring and color band represents daily solar phase and rhythm. Activity peaks when the sun is positioned near the horizon. This is based on light penetration into the water. As the sun rises, light intensity increases and shadows disappear, causing an abrupt change in activity. (Weather conditions will have an affect on solar rhythm by changing light intensity.) The sun's location is measured in angular position by degrees from the horizon, not by time of day. Time is man's invention and is based on location zones. By pointing your middle finger parallel to the water surface, then raising your index finger upward the movement will be approximately 30 degrees, the position solar activity changes. Observe the sun's position.

3. The second color band and remaining rings represent the calendar periods, rhythm, prey and location. Calendar periods are based on basic bass habits and water temperature. Water chemistry has a minor effect on calendar periods, but will affect prey and location. The data shown is based on the average bass lake, reservoir or pond, having a balanced ph of 7 or below and acid/nutrients at normal levels. Hard water will tend to lower the temperatures shown, soft water having the opposite effect. Hard water is clear, depth of visual light over ten feet and a ph greater than 7. Soft water is murky, depth of visual light less than two feet and high acid nutrient levels accompanied by weed choked conditions.

The locations and prime prey shown are based on largemouth bass being the prime predator in the lake. If other fish are prime predators, seeking the same prey, bass will become secondary predators and rarely use major points or mid-lake locations.

Migration habits are used to determine subtle changes in calendar periods. It is not necessary to be a biologist to understand basic bass behavior.

Water temperature controls bass behavior, thus controlling the calendar periods. The lower the water temperature, the lower the basses' metabolic rate, need for food decreases and sizes of food decreases. As water warms, food need increases, food sources increase and bass move into shallower water to seek abundant prey available during warm water periods. Bass first follow schools of small bait fish into bays, spawn, regroup at inside bay points, then scatter along the weed-line, shoreline until Fall when the water begins to cool, Bass then move onto major points, begin to school and feed on bait fish schools, following the thermocline out into mid-lake for the winter cold water period.

Bass are most wary during the summer period when they are in shallow- water. Unfortunately, man is most active with water sports during. the same warm water period, making conditions difficult. Night fishing can be good during the summer period, because of reduced traffic and light.

Because of the pecking order, large adult bass are first to move into different calendar periods, locations and feeding zones. They stay very close to cover and seldom roam seeking prey, instead locate near prey during all periods. Do not chase small bass roaming the shore lines. Instead, observe the calendar periods and concentrate on large adult bass.

To Summarize:

Very active bass will chase and strike anything that they think will fit into their mouths. Active bass will strike almost anything, but rarely chase it more than a few feet. Neutral bass must be teased into striking using a presentation with out-of-sync (rhythm) bait motion. Negative bass must also be teased into striking using a slow, quiet presentation slightly out-of-sync. Very negative bass will rarely strike anything.

Observe your environment and fish locations that have active bait movements.

 

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Those things work ! ...... if you think they do.

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Way to much to think about.  Just go out and fish!

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I put this together for a seminar back in May 1974, some of the calendar periods terms have become widely accepted. Keep in mind this data was gathered from my experiences fishing deep clear structured lakes in SoCal. You apply what you want, it will help you understand bass behavior or disregard the information.

If you interested or have any questions, be glad to answer them.

Tom

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I thank you for taking the time to share this. I know you put a lot of thought into it.

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That is a different interpretation of the old In-fisherman seasonal patterns concept.  In-fisherman presented a similar concept in a more linear fashion, and in much more detail.  Also, it seems to me that in In-fisherman concept defined 10 seasonal patterns, whereas that wheel only has 9 by my count.

 

Why do the patterns go counter-clockwise?  It made it difficult to read, for me.

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I put this together for a seminar back in May 1974, some of the calendar periods terms have become widely accepted. Keep in mind this data was gathered from my experiences fishing deep clear structured lakes in SoCal. You apply what you want, it will help you understand bass behavior or disregard the information.

If you interested or have any questions, be glad to answer them.

Tom

 

Tom, I'm curious if you think anything of the role weather stability (or lack of) plays in this.  Sometimes I think these rhythms are upset by temutuous weather patterns.  Ever been to western NY, LOL.

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Deep good to see you back brother!

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That is a different interpretation of the old In-fisherman seasonal patterns concept.  In-fisherman presented a similar concept in a more linear fashion, and in much more detail.  Also, it seems to me that in In-fisherman concept defined 10 seasonal patterns, whereas that wheel only has 9 by my count.

 

Why do the patterns go counter-clockwise?  It made it difficult to read, for me.

This calendar pre dates In-Fisherman about 1 1/2 years, no reason for counter clockwise other than it's the way it first laid out and was my mind set at the time, good observation. What you see is a version digitized and modernized by another site a few years ago, the content and layout is the same as the original.

Tom

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Tom, I'm curious if you think anything of the role weather stability (or lack of) plays in this.  Sometimes I think these rhythms are upset by temutuous weather patterns.  Ever been to western NY, LOL.

Weather is a big factor however unpredictable. Back when I did this most anglers thought bass behavior was as unpredictable as the weather. I sent the Cosmic Clock to Ray Scott back in '74 and thought he would like it and publish it, he wrote a terse note back and said it's impossible to predict bass behavior. Sent the Cosmic Clock to Al Linder and he wrote back asking if I wanted to contribute articles to his new magazine, so I did write a few.

Keep in mind this is over 40 years old now, but I wouldn't change much other than add Florida LMB behavior preferring pelagic baitfish like planted trout.

This has been my guiding principle and worked for me over the years.

Tom

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I think there's definitely something to it, on a larger scale, but I think localized behavior may be too hit and miss to rely on for per outing basis.  I always look at this stuff in hindsight...I guess looking for something to blame poor results, lol. 

 

Pelagic trout....  I can tell you that northern strain largemouth follow pelagic alewife, especially in the Finger Lakes.  Take the specific brand of baitfish and location out of the mix, and I don't believe it's exclusively a Fla. strain thing. 

 

It's too bad Rich Zaleski isn't up here.  I'd like to hear what he has to say.

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Our NLMB basically ignored planted trout during the time I was fishing before FLMB became a factor. Threadfin shad were introduced in the 60's in CA, now they the primary baitfish, bass adapt to what is easily available and what they are genetically wire to feed on. It's no different than a Labrador dog ignoring everything but birds, they are a bird dog. FLMB are larger prey fish eaters than NLMB due to where they evolved.

All bass love to feed on shad, not all bass feed on trout or larger baitfish.

Every lake you will see the biggest bass during the spawn, then they disappear from view and few are caught.

Take some time and read the Cosmic Clock and Bass Calendar with an open mind, there are answers to a lot of bass angling questions. This should help with foresight, not hindsight!

Tom

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Weather is a big factor however unpredictable. Back when I did this most anglers thought bass behavior was as unpredictable as the weather. I sent the Cosmic Clock to Ray Scott back in '74 and thought he would like it and publish it, he wrote a terse note back and said it's impossible to predict bass behavior. Sent the Cosmic Clock to Al Linder and he wrote back asking if I wanted to contribute articles to his new magazine, so I did write a few.

Keep in mind this is over 40 years old now, but I wouldn't change much other than add Florida LMB behavior preferring pelagic baitfish like planted trout.

This has been my guiding principle and worked for me over the years.

Tom

 

 

Obviously it worked very well for you over the years.

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Tom’s Cosmic Clock is brilliant. There are a lot of years of experience and knowledge rolled up in that breakdown of a bass's year. The cycle shape is right on the money, but harder to read compared to IF’s Calendar Period chart. I think this is probably because we tend to read right to left, and think linearly, (as well as dichotomously) –it’s just easier for us. But as a cycle is the way to look at a year’s progression.

 

Is the Cosmic Clock (or the InFisherman F+L+P formula, Calendar periods, lake classification scheme, etc) all one needs to know? Can one run a finger around a dial or across a chart and predict a day's fishing? No. Keep in mind that it's one thing to nail down large-scale timing, it's another to “be there” at the fine-scale timing in which bites occur -hence, John's "hindsight" comment.

 

Was Ray Scott right that one cannot predict bass behavior? It galls me to no end, but he's right when you get down to the nitty gritty –the fine-scale timing– where the bites happen. It's a big mighty big world bass live in. And they are adaptable, generalist predators, which makes them less predictable than a specialist with more restricted habitat requirements and behaviors. As far as “prediction” goes, it helps when I can fish every day. The only solace I get, I suppose, lies in spite: knowing that much of the day is a crap-shoot for the bass too.

 

Someone well-read, with a lot of on-many-waters experience, and fishing often, is in the best position to predict at finer scale, which in action tends to look more like the chipping away at probabilities and rolling with the punches. That’s fishing as I’ve come to know it.

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No wonder I don't catch many bass.  According to that "clock", the times that I get to go fishing, I should never catch a fish.

 

I'm sure glad that I enjoy my time on the water.

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Today's brass anglers are lot more informed about bass behavior then 40 years when I came up with The Cosmic Clock calendar. There somewhat of a consensus that the 5 days surrounding the full moon are good days to fish. Early mornings and late evenings during low light periods bass tend to be more and easier to catch is generally accepted. Seasonal periods like the spawn is well known, the periods have slowly gained acceptance amount the more seasoned anglers.

What hasn't been accepted by the general bass fishing anglers is rhythm or the fact bass are not always catchable. This may be the most important factor to understand, read the bottom line, the last sentence in the summary. The daily rhythm of bass activity changes constantly by weather elements, prey, seasonal periods.

Look for active bass and understand they are not catchable when inactive.

The Cosmic Clock gives you the basics to know where to start your day instead of fishing memories or where they were the last you fished. The seasons change by the basses calendar, not our 12 month cycle, understanding this should help you catch more bass consistently

Tom.

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I've always felt that the "bite moved more than the fish." To say, there is usually fish in the fishy spots, but that don't all turn on at once.

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Another tidbit of info is migration; none, vertical, horizontal and suspended as the bass movement related to seasonal periods. What does this mean? Basically the general bass population behaves in a pattern of movement, either up from deeper water into shallower water or moving down from shallower water to deeper water and moving horizontal at a similar depth. During the spawn the bass are not moving, During the cold water period or winter the tend to suspend at a comfortable depth.

Why is knowing the bass migrate differently seasonally important? It can determine how you present lures; spring up and fall down for example and in determining where the bass may be located. Knowing the depth the bass are feeding is very important in catching them consistently. If the bass during the summer are moving around at 8' of water, the prey is located under weed beds or docks a similar depth, no reason to fish deeper as those bass are not moving deeper. Exactly the same scenario, except it's fall, the bass tend to be moving deeper so it's important to look for bass in deeper water zones. Pre spawn you located bass at 20' the bass could be moving up into shallower water, no reason to look deeper, good reason to look shallower, as the bass are not moving deeper.

Tom

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Tom, are those temperatures surface temps, or at-depth?

At the depth the bass are at.

During the late 60's to early 70's Dark industries made a analog temperature probe that could be lowered 50'.

When I caught a bass by putting the temp probe in the basses throat and reading the body temp you could match the water temps at various depths. For example spawning temps averaged about 3' to 4' deep where I fished. Pre spawn averaged about 15' to 20' deep.

Tom

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At the depth the bass are at.

During the late 60's to early 70's Dark industries made a analog temperature probe that could be lowered 50'.

When I caught a bass by putting the temp probe in the basses throat and reading the body temp you could match the water temps at various depths. For example spawning temps averaged about 3' to 4' deep where I fished. Pre spawn averaged about 15' to 20' deep.

Tom

 

 

And that's why You Da Man Tom

 

A-Jay

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Don Seifert was the western regional Lowrance rep and he taught me how to "see" thermoclines using paper graph's to show the higher density "grey" line depth. With this tool the temperature probe was retired, we could now see what was called the "life zone depth". Now we metered the marina area to determine what depth the bass and baitfish or life zone was, knowing the seasonal period it was a lot easier to catch bass.

Good sonar changed how we bass fish.

Tom

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At the depth the bass are at.

During the late 60's to early 70's Dark industries made a analog temperature probe that could be lowered 50'.

When I caught a bass by putting the temp probe in the basses throat and reading the body temp you could match the water temps at various depths. For example spawning temps averaged about 3' to 4' deep where I fished. Pre spawn averaged about 15' to 20' deep.

Tom

Thanks, Tom. I remember you telling me that a while back. Thought others should know those temps "came from the horses mouth" so to speak.

 

Just to broaden the discussion, the "life zone" Tom is referring to may or may not correspond with a thermocline, although good sonar will reveal the water density change and living critters collected at one. In many waters though, bass may or may not be anywhere near the thermocline. In very clear waters, bass may be deep. In murkier waters, there may be little life worth fishing for near the thermocline, and "life zones" as revealed via sonar -where the majority of activity is- can be unrelated to a thermocline, much shallower, and may vary day to day.

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I believe that today's bass anglers are more dedicated to bass fishing in lieu of multiple species as they were 40 years ago. Bass fishing was more of a spring and summer sport and where water freezes in the fall was for hunting, the winter for trout.

Thermoclines for bass fishing develop in the summer months in most bass lakes, therefor a factor about 1/4 to 1/3 of the calendar year. Ice out or winter turn over doesn't affect most bass lakes, the fall turnover is more of a common event. Thermal breaks where water changes temps vertically like in rivers or moving water can be a factor year around. Heavy weed mats can also provide a thermal break where the water is cooler and springs that average 60 degrees can cool or warm water depending of the calendar season.

The life zone is a factor year around, locate the bait the bass are nearby.

We think of bass as being warm water fish and they are, but they don't like 80 to 90 degree water with low dissolved oxygen levels. When you don't see any life in warm water, look deeper or look for thermal breaks where the life zone has developed. Bass stay at a prefered depth for a good reason, they are comfortable at that depth.

Tom

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