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Keiran Beam

Small Lakes

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So up in Southern New Hampshire there are not many big lakes, also none of them contain shad or blue herring. I have fished a long time on these small lakes, I could just never figure them out or the bass in them. For example, in the summer I find myself always going shallow, but I'm only catching small bass. I read up on articles saying to go fish ledges and all, but there are no bass to find on the ledges; the lake only gets 30 feet deep. Also there is not much structure, it's just a big bowl of milfoil. I am constantly running around trying different things no matter what season is. I use bluegill pattern baits like cranks, jigs, plastics, and etc. because it's the main forage, but I can't ever find myself landing any fish over 3 pounds. What can I do to change my approach on these small lakes and catch some bigger fish no matter what season it is?

 

Thanks,

-Keiran

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First, you'd have to know if there is any fish over 3 lbs in lake you're fishing to begin with.  During the spawn, I'd walk around the lake and see if I saw any big ones on beds.  Also, in lakes where everything is the same, you have to find something different.  Bass just seem to relate to anything different. Look for breaks such as where thicker grass breaks to sparse grass etc. 

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Curious, what do you consider small? How many acres are the places your fishing?

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Small natural lakes that far north tend to freeze during winter, too cold for most shad species.

Weed edges are your best bet and learning to fish in the weeds requires specific lure type.

What lures do you use and do you have a boat with sonar?

Tom

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Well I know the lakes I do fish have had a lot of 3 and 4 pounders, the biggest in the lake is 8 pounds. I do have a 12 foot john boat I use on this lake because it is only 270 acres and there is no boat launch because it is private, and on the boat I have a hummingbird 120; and I'm saving up for a triton. What I mainly use for bait is either a jig, Texas rig with either a crawdad or power worm depending on the season, lipless crank bait, and a square bill.

These baits work the best in most of the lakes I have fished in this area. 

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Many of the natural lakes I fish are under 1000 acres, a few are under 100.  The majority of them also have no shad populations.  The lakes with a healthy population of milfoil or coontail are the best producers as both the baitfish and the bass relate to the weeds.  Those that only have sparce cover are tough to fish as the bass and baitfish move around a lot.

The lakes with plenty of weeds do have some structure, but lack other forms of cover. Irregularities in the weed beds along with the edges where the weeds stop growing are the best producers (that includes the top edge whether or not the weeds grow to the surface). Any place where the weeds abruptly stop growing is an indication of structure, in this case, a change in bottom composition and those areas are spots to key on no matter what season, but especially during the summer. If nothing else, envision the cuts, turns and points in the weeds the same as those of a shoreline and you'll locate a good majority of the shallow fish.

If the lake has a depth of 30ft. at the deepest, there are likely other forms of structure and I would look for quick depth changes or rises even if they're only a few feet. Any of those that continue toward the shallows can be producers both during the summer and winter as the deeper holding fish in the summer will use them when accessing the shallows and the majority of fish will migrate to them in the winter.

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I'm gonna guess you may have yellow perch as well as several sunfish populations.  Like the post above, weed breaks, points, two kinds coming together....etc.  Look for the bluegill beds in the summer.  Odd are there are fish outside.  Look at Siebert Jig's website and look into some tungsten punch jigs 3/4oz and read up on fishing and punching grass beds.  The heavier weight and compact size of the tungsten will help get through the grass to the fish below.  You want a compact bait so a 4" creature/craw style bait will work best as well.  Then next year look around.  Most fish will move just outside where they spawned, so if you found an area with lots of spawning beds, then look to areas around there for key breaks in the weeds (bends, points, holes, two kinds coming together).  And fish in the middle of the nasty stuff.  For some reason they just don't like it when you drop that bait into their front room and under the mats.  Take notes on where the grass grows up first  as well.  And if you have lilly pads, bass really like that area to spawn in so there's an area if you have them to take note of in the summer to look at in the spring.  And if there's a break just outside (could be a small ledge of a foot) that they will stage prior to spawn in the spring or point near by.  Hope this helps some.

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Forgot to add, if there are yellow perch, the larger fish maybe targeting them in the deeper water, so you may have to locate the perch and fish out there with bigger cranks, jigs, etc.  

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