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Nitrofreak

Is there such a thing as "too much of a good thing"?

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This past weekend I came across something I have never experienced, hoards of fish, both herring (blueback) as well as threadfin shad, I could see them as they were jumping all around me.

I gave every bait I had with me the opportunity to attract a bite LOL! 

Seriously, I threw everything that I know that had worked in the past, baits included, jig and pig combos, swimming shad imitators, small crank baits in shad and herring colors, weightless flukes, T-Rigged Lizards and creature baits, top water baits including a pop-r as well as a small buzz bait, also tried a flutter spoon as well as a silver buddy, one other rig I tried was a split shot rigged with a Berkley power bait eel in blue back herring color, line that I used was spider wire 30lb. As well as Seaugar 15lb. Floro., the water condition was slightly stained, surface temps were at 77.8 with mostly sunny conditions, water depth fished was 8.2-12.7 feet, structure fished was the old river arm, fish, both ( what I assume were bass ) as well as bait were located close to the ledges and following the outside bend of the river channel.

I stayed with the fish for quite a bit moving as they moved upstream, mostly targeting the rear of the schools, although I did try all over the area, most of my attention was focused on baits falling through the middle or toward the rear of the schools.

What did I do wrong?

What can I do better?

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I firmly believe in those types of situations the bass can tell the difference between real food & fake!

What you experienced is why I seldom chase "schooling" bass. 

Been there, done that, don't even get a T-shirt!

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That's tough one man! You did everything I would have and have done. As Catt said, sometimes no matter what you do will work even tho there is no conceivable reason why it shouldn't.

That happened to me one time on the St.Johns River. We followed them for maybe 1/2 mile and between the 2 of us we couldn't get bit trowing the same things you did. However, when they finally slowed and scattered we did. Don't know why. 

You found em which is the only thing you can control. After that it's not up to you anymore. 

 

Mike 

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i'm pretty sure they're so focused on that bait that yours doesn't stand much of a chance.  it can be so aggravating too.  if anything, i'll try to throw something that's just way off of what the bait should look like and hope to get a bite on that.  sometimes it's a bubblegum fluke or senko just to try to stand out in the crowd so to speak.

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Yeah, it's happened to me many times. I don't lake fish much anymore, but that scenario seemed to happen to me a lot in the fall when bass were gorging on shad. Usually, I'd try something different. If bass are actively chasing shad, I'll throw a full size Spook over them and/or drag a worm across the bottom. I have also cast a jigging spoon and yo-yo'ed it back across the bottom. And if/when that fails, I'll go elsewhere and look for fish that are relating to specific cover or go have a beer.

A Rebel Pop-R can be a good bait when bass are chasing shad to the surface. Just wait on a fish to boil and cast right to the spot. Occasionally, you'll get one's attention. Don't be delicate, make some noise with it.

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i was on Smith Mountain Lake for Memorial Day weekend, me and my uncle came across a huge school of baitfish flipping in the water all over this one cove and couldnt get bit on anything.

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It happens all the time on Toledo Bend & at times there will be acres of bass chasing shad to the surface. I've actually stood on the deck my boat & looked 360° around the boat at "schooling" bass everywhere!

After 10-12 cast without a bite I leave em alone!

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Fly fishermen would show you a case with 30 of the same looking flies, each with a miniscule variation...  They'd probabl try to pull a few of the baitfish and line it up next to them, select the perfect match...  And still not catch anything.  Don't feel bad.  Sometimes you just can't even buy a nibble.  

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7 hours ago, Catt said:

I firmly believe in those types of situations the bass can tell the difference between real food & fake!

What you experienced is why I seldom chase "schooling" bass. 

Been there, done that, don't even get a T-shirt!

Well, maybe we should start a T-Shirt business then LOL!

Thanks for the reply Catt!!!

7 hours ago, Mike L said:

That's tough one man! You did everything I would have and have done. As Catt said, sometimes no matter what you do will work even tho there is no conceivable reason why it shouldn't.

That happened to me one time on the St.Johns River. We followed them for maybe 1/2 mile and between the 2 of us we couldn't get bit trowing the same things you did. However, when they finally slowed and scattered we did. Don't know why. 

You found em which is the only thing you can control. After that it's not up to you anymore. 

 

Mike 

I have put a lot of effort in the past couple of years with finding the fish, while I'm glad that I did, I'm also not disappointed that I didn't catch anything, just finding them or knowing where to look is a huge deal to me, 54 years old and I feel like I just graduated from something LOL!!!

Thanks for the reply Mike, I feel as you, I believe after this experience that too much may not be the best thing, as you I don't know why either but at least we have gained a little experience if nothing else.

6 hours ago, buzzed bait said:

i'm pretty sure they're so focused on that bait that yours doesn't stand much of a chance.  it can be so aggravating too.  if anything, i'll try to throw something that's just way off of what the bait should look like and hope to get a bite on that.  sometimes it's a bubblegum fluke or senko just to try to stand out in the crowd so to speak.

I don't know that it was aggravating but it made me question what I was doing for sure !

Its funny that you mention throwing something way off, I was looking around for a rod the had my 6XD and the only one I had, had a 10XD, yes, I did LOL !! 

I swam it down to where it met bottom paused it to let it float up a bit and cranked it until it made bottom contact again, way different but meh... nothing else is working why not??? 

 

I wish to say thanks for all the replies, I'm certainly glad to find that I am not the only one and while I can't say that I was disappointed in the result, I was and still am more along the lines of confused, but that's what fishing is right?, it's working through an opportunity, putting yourself in the best position possible and even then it seems that it is not always a guarantee.

I am truly grateful to be a part of this website, it's always steered me in the direction I need to go and because of that, my season thus far has been a big success.

 

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I've had that happen a couple of times.  Once I threw a Storm Thinfin in the middle of it and just let it sit.  Didn't have to let it sit long and it got slammed, several times.  After the "feed" was over,  I threw that lure parallel to the lily pads and had a bass come shooting out of the pads to slam the lure.

 

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There's an old all saying we all heard and know it to be true, just sometimes we forget it...

"That's why they call it fishin and not catchin"

;)

 

Mike

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8 hours ago, Catt said:

It happens all the time on Toledo Bend & at times there will be acres of bass chasing shad to the surface. I've actually stood on the deck my boat & looked 360° around the boat at "schooling" bass everywhere!

After 10-12 cast without a bite I leave em alone!

Lesson learned, So basically your best bet is to wait until the herd thins itself out a bit or maybe move to a different location.

Do you return later in the day or just mark the spot for a later date? How do you use this experience?

 

 

 

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You can try using a Bill Lewis Rat-L-Trap. They are great lures for schooling bass.

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7 hours ago, Nitrofreak said:

Lesson learned, So basically your best bet is to wait until the herd thins itself out a bit or maybe move to a different location.

Do you return later in the day or just mark the spot for a later date? How do you use this experience?

Schooling bass can be completely aggravating!

Sometimes you can catch bass on every cast & sometimes they will not touch a lure.

Sometimes they stay in one general area & sometimes they'll move following the shad.

When I was younger I chased em! No after 10-12 cast I forget em!

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OK, One good bait for that is one of those larger underspin jigs with a good sized nickle willowleaf blade, (like a large road runner) and a blueback herring slugo, or swimbait. Toss in or near the middle of the mayhem, and steady retrieve it back just like a regular spinnerbait. If its a small school of bait they will just disperse. If the school is huge enough, this bait should work. I bought mine at a local tackle shop, but im sure basspro or one of the other "large" tackle dealers online should have some, mine aren't road runners, dont remember the make, saw them and instantly knew what to do with them, so I bought him out of the 1/2 oz size he had. I have used them a few times and actually had some good success with them

Another trick I used to do in Salems harbor (saltwater) when the herring were busting the surface being chased by stripers, as far as you could see, millions of herring filling the whole harbor.,...(May be considered dirty, but very effective) drop a line in the baitfish with a treble hook and snag one, leave it there. And hold on, that struggling herring is gunna get slammed hard. Not allowed in any tourney mind you, but it sure is alot of fun when you match the right rod reel combo to it. I was using a 6'6" med action shimano bullwhip (old slow action whippy rod) with a 2000 sized reel and 12 pd mono and averaging  anywheres from 2 to 20 pound stripers, what a blast!,...This was years ago before the herring ban up here....But,...that sure was a great season, I plum wore that reel out, caught a few "keepers", and every evening after dinner i'd hit the docks with that one rod, a small box in my pocket with swivels and trebles, a pair of needlenose,.. and have a blast

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8 hours ago, soflabasser said:

You can try using a Bill Lewis Rat-L-Trap. They are great lures for schooling bass.

I had one in chrome with a blue back but didn't throw it because I gave it to my daughter for her tackle box, great suggestion!!!

1 hour ago, Catt said:

Schooling bass can be completely aggravating!

Sometimes you can catch bass on every cast & sometimes they will not touch a lure.

Sometimes they stay in one general area & sometimes they'll move following the shad.

When I was younger I chased em! No after 10-12 cast I forget em!

Is there a particular bait that you prefer that gives you that kind of  confidence that you feel you won't get bit? Or have a tough time getting bit?

I really like my Berkley power bait eel on a split shot rig.

1 hour ago, Keith "Hamma" Hatch said:

OK, One good bait for that is one of those larger underspin jigs with a good sized nickle willowleaf blade, (like a large road runner) and a blueback herring slugo, or swimbait. Toss in or near the middle of the mayhem, and steady retrieve it back just like a regular spinnerbait. If its a small school of bait they will just disperse. If the school is huge enough, this bait should work. I bought mine at a local tackle shop, but im sure basspro or one of the other "large" tackle dealers online should have some, mine aren't road runners, dont remember the make, saw them and instantly knew what to do with them, so I bought him out of the 1/2 oz size he had. I have used them a few times and actually had some good success with them

Another trick I used to do in Salems harbor (saltwater) when the herring were busting the surface being chased by stripers, as far as you could see, millions of herring filling the whole harbor.,...(May be considered dirty, but very effective) drop a line in the baitfish with a treble hook and snag one, leave it there. And hold on, that struggling herring is gunna get slammed hard. Not allowed in any tourney mind you, but it sure is alot of fun when you match the right rod reel combo to it. I was using a 6'6" med action shimano bullwhip (old slow action whippy rod) with a 2000 sized reel and 12 pd mono and averaging  anywheres from 2 to 20 pound stripers, what a blast!,...This was years ago before the herring ban up here....But,...that sure was a great season, I plum wore that reel out, caught a few "keepers", and every evening after dinner i'd hit the docks with that one rod, a small box in my pocket with swivels and trebles, a pair of needlenose,.. and have a blast

I don't have an under spin but after this however, definatly plan on getting a couple, thanks for the suggestion!!!

I also thought of the A-Rig and wondered if that would have saved the day, would you have an opinion or a thought you could share about the A-Rig, I have the right equipment to throw one I just haven't pulled the trigger on it yet.

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I dont use a-rigs,.. just havent  bought one, I do have gear i could toss one with, but like you I havent pulled the trigger either. Amazingly , I dont use senko's either,...lol

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@Nitrofreak 

After 45 yrs fishing Toledo Bend & experiencing this several times a year ya get a gut feeling when they gonna bite & when they aint!

I've thrown every bait mentioned here plus some y'all aint never heard of.

One's that were productive; Rat-L-Traps, spinnerbaits, Pop-R, Chugbug, Rink-a-Dink, Slug-O, Flukes, Senko; get the point?

When they're biting it don't really matter what I throw & when they aint biting it really don't matter what I'm throwing!

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You said the baitfish were jumping all around you but did not mention why . I'm assuming they were being chased by bass or were there just millions of baitfish at the surface ?

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1 minute ago, Keith "Hamma" Hatch said:

I dont use a-rigs,.. just havent  bought one, I do have gear i could toss one with, but like you I havent pulled the trigger either. Amazingly , I dont use senko's either,...lol

I'm not much on them either, senko's that is, I have them but I'm so focused on location and learning the in's and out's of other baits and techniques that I just never use them, I keep them on the boat for the girls when they go fishing with me, great presentation for them to have a lot of fun with, thanks for the reply.

 

19 minutes ago, Catt said:

@Nitrofreak 

After 45 yrs fishing Toledo Bend & experiencing this several times a year ya get a gut feeling when they gonna bite & when they aint!

I've thrown every bait mentioned here plus some y'all aint never heard of.

One's that were productive; Rat-L-Traps, spinnerbaits, Pop-R, Chugbug, Rink-a-Dink, Slug-O, Flukes, Senko; get the point?

When they're biting it don't really matter what I throw & when they aint biting it really don't matter what I'm throwing!

I got ya, it's the first time I have ever had this happen so I'm full of questions LOL !

Thanks Catt !!

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35 minutes ago, scaleface said:

You said the baitfish were jumping all around you but did not mention why . I'm assuming they were being chased by bass or were there just millions of baitfish at the surface ?

I feel some were being chased, there was a group of striper I passed over before I caught up with the fish, I assume they were striper because there was a couple of boats rigged for striper working close to where I was, that group of fish was hanging in the middle to the deeper parts of the water column, other fish I saw were on the bottom behind the groups of bait, I'm assuming but pretty positive from past experience that those were the bass and those were the ones that I targeted.

Edit, When I said they were jumping all around me what I mean to say is that I would see a few here and a few there, a few dozen at a time, I should have been clearer about that in my post.

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The Rat-L-Trap is definitely one of my go to lures when bass are schooling and actively feeding . The 2 retrieves that work best for me is a steady retrieve at various speeds and a stop and go retrieve. Spinnerbaits and small (3-5") swimbaits also work very well for schooling bass.

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The late (and in my opinion great) Bill Binkleman of the old Fishing Facts magazine era (circa 1970's) wrote about this phenomenon in a writing entitled, "Undertaker Bass".  In this thesis he wrote that big bass like to cruise underneath large schools of prey fish lackadaisically, seeming not very interested in feeding. However, their focus is on that school, awaiting a member to show signs of distress. At which point the predator targets on that individual and closes. The result is obvious.

Bill's presentations were mainly utilizing live shiners with an internal weight (attached to a harness) inserted in such a fashion as to make it fall through the school in a very vulnerable manner. As most of us here no longer engage in using live bait much any more, a similar distressed falling action can surely be duplicated these days, using a wacky rigged Senko, can it not? Thus, even neutral to negative acting predators can be driven to focus on this falling action, and eventually enticed to strike. You just need to come close as possible to duplicating the size and color of the baitfish school.

Remember, a bass has little choice in whether or not it does take a bait. It is it's nature to take feeding opportunity, as it presents itself.  It's just a matter of initiating the stimuli it needs to engage. At least that's how I've always approached this situation. :)

 

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@Nitrofreak guess we the only ones who have encountered this & got skunked!

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