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SDbassin

How Can You Tell What The Baitfish Are?

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hi all, I'm fairly new to bass fishing and wanted to know how do you tell a difference in baitfish? I haven't fished in a while because I'm trying to finish up my degree, but when I was back home in southern California a month ago, I noticed in both lakes I fished that a ton of baitfish had came up close to the banks, but I couldn't tell if they were shad, minnows, really small bluegill or what. I know the lakes I fish have a lot of bluegill, but they looked too small for bluegill, they were only an inch long maybe two at the most. I don't think the lakes I fish have shad, but I couldn't really tell the color of the baitfish because they were moving so fast in and out of cover. People were cranking and smashing the fish like crazy, and at the time I didn't have any crankbaits to throw. How do you guys tell the difference between baitfish if you are fishing from the bank and what do you look for in the different types of baitfish? Any advice would be great!

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Shad most likely were they schooling and jumping or just swimming around ?

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Catch them on tiny grubs or spinners, or you can use a net. A good pair of polarized glasses would help significantly, look up species of the fish present in the lake and look through photos to see if they look like any of the baitfish you saw.

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Shad most likely were they schooling and jumping or just swimming around ?

they looked like they were schooling to me, but kinda scattered moving from cover to cover. they would all simultaneously dart from one stump to the other really fast.

 

Catch them on tiny grubs or spinners, or you can use a net. A good pair of polarized glasses would help significantly, look up species of the fish present in the lake and look through photos to see if they look like any of the baitfish you saw.

I wish I had my net at the time to try and scoop them out to see what they looked like. I have polarized oakleys that I wear all the time fishing too, but they were moving so fast I couldn't see exactly what colors they were, looked kinda dark brownish to me. Most of the lakes I fish either have bluegill, sunfish or trout . Im pretty sure none of the lakes I fish have shad but I could be wrong, the website for the lakes I fish say there are no shad, but have heard of people catching them on shad colored crankbaits

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1.When you catch a Bass,feel its tummy. If it feels hard,he may be eating Crawdads,but if its soft it might be fish. Another tip i can give you is to google different kinds of baitfish(Crawdads,Bluegills,Sunfish,Shiners,Minnows,Alewives,Blueback Herring,Gizzard Shad). Print out pictures of all  these fish and hang them on your wall. Study them and look at them every day. Next time you are out on the lake, you should be better equipped to tell which baitfish they are, AND you will be better at matching your lures to baitfish colors(if fishing clear water). Good luck buddy.

 

Tyler

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What lake is it? There's a few California guys on here can help you, you will have to either contact your fisheries dept. talk with local experienced fisherman, catch them, photograph them and cross that info online or on your state website.

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That sounds more like blue gill behavior to me are there any stragglers that are brave out of the group. Also are they all about the same size

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I don't care WHAT they are, bass will strike a lure regardless of how it looks, it's by far much more important WHERE they are.

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1.When you catch a Bass,feel its tummy. If it feels hard,he may be eating Crawdads,but if its soft it might be fish. Another tip i can give you is to google different kinds of baitfish(Crawdads,Bluegills,Sunfish,Shiners,Minnows,Alewives,Blueback Herring,Gizzard Shad). Print out pictures of all  these fish and hang them on your wall. Study them and look at them every day. Next time you are out on the lake, you should be better equipped to tell which baitfish they are, AND you will be better at matching your lures to baitfish colors(if fishing clear water). Good luck buddy.

 

Tyler

thanks tyler, great tips. the lakes I fish are all really clear water, most of them being in san diego and other parts of socal

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