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TNReb

What do you do when you're only catching small bass?

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I have a small jon boat, and fish the lakes around here in middle TN - mostly Old Hickory and Percy Priest.

Edit:  I fish exclusively for largemouth.

It seems that every time I go, I'll catch bass in that 1-1.5lb range - and rarely anything else.  In 2014 I caught three that were 5-6lbs.  Last year I didn't catch anything over 3.  This year I haven't caught anything over 2.

What do you do when you're having days like this?  

Lake fishing is pretty new to me - I grew up fishing watersheds and farm ponds.  I'm afraid I'm spending too much time in shallows and not targeting areas that hold bigger fish.  Our weather has been pretty mild here this spring and I wouldn't expect the fish to be hunkered down deep yet - but again.. that's my lack of experience fishing these sorts of lakes.

I admittedly throw jigs and plastics 90% of the time.  That may be part of my problem.  

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If you are fishing for smallmouths they tend to stack up in schools of the same size. If you can throw out a marker and look for bigger fish. If you don't find any come back to your marker and at least catch something. Whatever bait you are using you could always try to upsize it as well.

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Thanks for the reply.  I edited my original post - forgot to say that I fish for largemouth.

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Change location. ;)

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Me personally as long as I'm catching something I'm happy. Just put them back and keep on fishing. Most people get to focused on catching the biggest fish in the lake and fail to enjoy fishing as a whole. 

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1 hour ago, TNReb said:

 I'm afraid I'm spending too much time in shallows and not targeting areas that hold bigger fish.  

Well, what makes you think this? 

TN spawn over? Are the bigger females out deeper now? Are you fishing early morning and evening up in the shallows for feeding? 

If you already have an idea; with it being you're to shallow,  listen to yourself and change locations. Fish a little deeper, then a little deeper, etc.. 

Also, throw some search baits deep. It might help locate bigger fish faster than a finesse style rig. 

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I agree with the search baits like a Carolina rig but I just want to say that jigs and t-rig are not the problem, these baits will catch bigger bass as long as they are there. Find some points leading out from shallows to deper water or some ledges. I too struggle with deep water fishing but it's something you have to do to get better at.

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1 hour ago, Catt said:

Change location. ;)

Also, I think fish have a very distinct preference for "moving baits" some days and bottom contact on others. Jigs and soft plastics are generally a good choice, but sometimes moving baits just work better, Chatterbaits are a compromise and are killin' it for me right now. I'll also suggest a swim jig.

Back to location...For me current trumps everything on the Tennessee River impoundments. Number two is depth. So, if we find fish at 19', that is exactly where they will be that day. Since comparable size fish (year class?) tend to school together, if you are catching small fish you probably need to move on.

 

:fishing-026:

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If ya catching little fish it's cause ya fishing where little fish are!

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When I'm only catching small bass I just smile and keep on catching them. I have come to realize there are lakes with big fish in it, and there are lakes that just dont. I fish one lake exclusively and the biggest I've caught there was a 5 pounder last spring. I caught at least 300 under 16 inches there. So pretty much 1 of 300 is the big to small fish caught. 

 

So I go to New lake last week that is known for having giants in it. I caught 4 fish. 1 of them was a 4 pounder and my buddy lost almost a 6 at the side of the boat. Total 6 fish were boated. 2 fish were over 3 pounds. Not including pig that came off the hook that's a 1 to 3 ratio of big to small fish. 

Moral of the story is some lakes just don't have quality. Lake A has quantity but Lake B has quality. Its very rare (at least around me) that a lake has both.

 

 

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2 hours ago, TNReb said:

... I'm afraid I'm spending too much time in shallows and not targeting areas that hold bigger fish. 

...I admittedly throw jigs and plastics 90% of the time.  That may be part of my problem.  

"... I'm afraid I'm spending too much time in shallows and not targeting areas that hold bigger fish. "

Bingo! It may not be "the shallows" exactly that are the problem. But changing locations, esp deeper, may help. 

"...I admittedly throw jigs and plastics 90% of the time.  That may be part of my problem. "

Definitely NOT the problem.

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Take some home!  Likely they are stunted form overpopulation.  Could be a lack of forage fish also.

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Where there's small fish, there's big fish, where there's big fish, there's bigger fish!  One local told me that every school has that one big b**** sitting on that prime piece of structure or cover that the little fish won't mess with, it's just a matter of getting that big fish to bite!  Maybe try changing things up or like someone suggested, upsize your bait!

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The areas you are fishing are obviously holding smaller fish,..key to that sentence is "areas". Change your locations, seek out areas with access to deeper water nearby, prefferably with evidence of baitfish. Whether its a huge ball of baitfish on your sonar, baitfish breaking the surface, or birds diving. (Deeper waters, baitfish)

as for lures? jigs with plastics "will" work and i've caught some hogs on a jighead and 4" grub, but you might want to step up to a jig and pig for bottom bouncing, and a spinnerbait for locating them (jig and pig, spinnerbait)

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Use an ultralight spinning combo. They'll be more enjoyable. ;) Or you can just try another place. But stunted bass ponds have their advantages. Lots of stupid fish. You can gain confidence with a new technique.I caught a bass on a gummy worm at a place like that just to show I could.

Start eating them or giving them away. There are too many there for the average size to increase.

Try some larger craw imitator. Bigger bass eat more craws. T-rigged Chigger Craw is my fav. Use bigger lures. Spinnerbaits, buzzbaits, Rat L Traps and frogs tend to be bigger bass baits. My PB came on a frog. And, of course, swimbaits, but I haven't had much success with those. 

I caught a 6.5 lb out of my buddy's pond the very first time I fished it 13 years ago. I haven't caught one over 3 in there since. Hey, if nothing else, after you strike out with the larger baits, it'll make the little ones more fun.

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I dont get to fish as much as i use to, so just catching fish makes me happy... You never know when you will catch the fish of a lifetime... 

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21 hours ago, TNReb said:

I have a small jon boat, and fish the lakes around here in middle TN - mostly Old Hickory and Percy Priest.

20 hours ago, roadwarrior said:

Also, I think fish have a very distinct preference for "moving baits" some days and bottom contact on others. Jigs and soft plastics are generally a good choice, but sometimes moving baits just work better, Chatterbaits are a compromise and are killin' it for me right now. I'll also suggest a swim jig.

Back to location...For me current trumps everything on the Tennessee River impoundments. Number two is depth. So, if we find fish at 19', that is exactly where they will be that day. Since comparable size fish (year class?) tend to school together, if you are catching small fish you probably need to move on.

 

:fishing-026:

 

For Tennessee RW is your man ;)

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 Another way to look at it , the more fish you catch the better your chances at catching a big bass .

If I'm catching a lot of small bass I assume there are bigger fish somewhere close . Sometimes they may be tighter to cover , deeper , on isolated cover on nearby structure like points ..,  theres lots of variables .

 I recommend      if your stuck in the shallows then  start hitting points  that extend out in deep water .. They are easy to find . Spend a lot of time learning how to fish them . 

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I enjoy catching anything and have recently spent an afternoon happily catching minnows on a UL spinner.  Would I have been delighted if a striper had slammed my line?  Absolutely.  Was it still better then a day at work or a sitting on the couch?  Also absolutely. 

 

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After the winter here in Buffalo, its always great to get out.. We were blessed with a mild winter...

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On May 26, 2016 at 5:46 AM, TNReb said:

I have a small jon boat, and fish the lakes around here in middle TN - mostly Old Hickory and Percy Priest.

Edit:  I fish exclusively for largemouth.

It seems that every time I go, I'll catch bass in that 1-1.5lb range - and rarely anything else.  In 2014 I caught three that were 5-6lbs.  Last year I didn't catch anything over 3.  This year I haven't caught anything over 2.

What do you do when you're having days like this?  

Lake fishing is pretty new to me - I grew up fishing watersheds and farm ponds.  I'm afraid I'm spending too much time in shallows and not targeting areas that hold bigger fish.  Our weather has been pretty mild here this spring and I wouldn't expect the fish to be hunkered down deep yet - but again.. that's my lack of experience fishing these sorts of lakes.

I admittedly throw jigs and plastics 90% of the time.  That may be part of my problem.  

You mention if you use some type of sonar/depth finder unit?

Catt is absolutely correct, change location. Anglers that believe big bass locate where small bass are located are misleading you. Big bass locate where ever they angina abundant prey that provides a sanctuary area close by. Big bass eat small bass and nearly unlimited other types of prey. 

Current brings bass prey, depth provides sanctuary, current near depth breaks or depth breaks with or without current is where you should be focusing your efforts. 

Tom

 

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