Outdoor Zack

Feeling out a new place

19 posts in this topic

know this is a broad topic without a single answer, but I'm looking for ideas..

 

 

When you visit a new place, how do you ID important details like:

 

 

      Primary forage for bass

 

      Key features/contours

 

      feeding/spawning cycles 

 

 

Basically Wondering about how you can pick out features like those and others without a fish finder.  

 

Do you have good luck with charts/maps?  Fishing/DNR reports?  Smartphone apps?

 

Also, if you have any books, articles, or other reading please let me know as I am really interested in getting more educated on some nearby systems 

 

 

thanks in advance 

 

 

 

 

 

 

      

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Primary, and secondary points are usually a good place to start.  You can find a topo map for most lakes onlie.

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what ever place you may be going, ask some of theses guys in advance. they can be very helpful. check out local bait shops .and if you have a smart phone there are aps for most lakes showing channels and depth layout.  good luck this year ,tight lines

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Zack, you have asked the $64,000 Question. Your query highlights the challenge we all face on a new and old body of water.

 

Things under the water are in constant flux. They change so that one day the bass will stack up in the back of a creek and the next day they are half a mile away on the main lake. This can drive a grown man to cry.

 

So what do you do? You do your homework to try to figure out the body of water. And how do you do that? Easier said then done.

 

First, paper maps. The ones that show contours, points, humps, channels, sunken boats, bridges, roads so you will know where the docks and piers are located, and any thing else you can find to give you an idea of what you will be facing.

 

Second, you hit Google Earth and see the lake or river from the air. You can then see the grasses, downed trees along a bank, homes, piers, docks, bridges, etc. in real time.

 

Third, you go to the water and use your electronics to locate spots that looked promising on the maps and Google Earth. Take your boat out and using your electronics check out the places you found on your maps and Google Earth. No fishing, just check out the places you think the fish will be holding.

 

Fourth, while on the water note the water temperature so you will know where the bass "should" be and if they will be aggressive depending on the season.

 

Fifth, talk to others who have fished that body of water and go to the water's blog, if there is one, and read those posts. Ask your questions but be ready to receive very little helpful information if the guys on the blog are protective of the body of water. However, it has been my experience that the guys will give you some helpful tips if you are nice when you pen your queries.

 

Sixth, go to the section of this Forum that the waters are located and look up under the search option the names of the waters you fish. If they have been discussed you will find the data plus the names of the guys and gals fishing them. Send them a personal message or just ask your questions on a new thread regarding where you are fishing. We all do it. Sometimes we get good feedback and sometimes we get skunked.

 

With these six items on your bucket list completed, the time has arrived to try to find the bass. And were can they be? Top, middle or bottom of the water column. Holding tight to trees. Sunny day and under docks, piers and boats. Cloudy days around rip rap and just swimming around. This is your challenge. Use your favorite baits for each of the three depths. Experiment with speed of retrieve and colors. Change baits as often as necessary. Do what your gut tells you. Fish those techniques you have confidence.

 

You know the body of water now but the bass are doing their own thing. This is your challenge. To find out what the bass are doing and where they are holding. At least for that day or hour. Bass movements change with the wind, water temperature, sunny/cloudy days.......you know all the tricks the bass use to fool us. Top, middle or bottom. One or a combination of them. You have to experiment to find out where they are and what they want.

 

While on the water look to see what the other guys are doing. Are they way off the bank throwing big spinnerbaits? Close to the banks flipping and pitching plastics? Fishing in the middle of nothing that could signal a submerged brush pile, sunken boat or other structure that could hold the bass? Fast retrieve. Slow retrieve? Colors they are using? Anything you can glean from them will be helpful, especially if they know the waters better than you.
 

The "Eastern US" as your location is not helpful to us. "Eastern US" starts in Maine and goes all the way to Florida and includes states such as Kentucky, Tennessee, Pennsylvania, New York, and West Virginia for starters. Each state has different bodies of water; different fishing techniques; and the seasons of the year occur at difference times. Please consider adding your specific location and the bodies of water you fish to your avatar to help us help you.

 

If you do all that is mentioned in this thread there is still no guarantee you will locate the bass on your first or second adventure. You can always throw a crankbait fast to eliminate water but if you are not sure if the bass are in the area you are not doing yourself a favor. You may be eliminating water that will come alive in the afternoon or has already been active in the morning. Only time on the water will give you this data.

 

If you get totally frustrated, how about hiring a guide for a day? Good money spent to help you understand the waters and what the bass are doing at that time.  I have used guides on a lot of waterways and every trip has been helpful in locating places where the bass will be holding. Or should be holding. You want to see where the guide fishes and what baits he suggests you throw. This is a great short-cut to learning about any body of water.

 

And yes, you get on the Internet and look up blogs regarding the bodies of water you fish; get any state fish and game publications that list the fish in the waters so you can note the forage. After you catch a bass feel its stomach. If it is squishy they are eating shad, bream and bluegills. If it is hard they are eating crawfish. Go from there in type, size and color of your baits to try to match what they are eating at that time.

 

No one can give you the "magic bullet" as to where the bass will be on the days you fish. You can gather a lot of info on this Forum and blogs to point you in the right direction.  And you can subscribe to some wonderful magazines and Facebook publications to help you learn more about that little green monster that bring grown me to tears.

 

Keep a diary. Yes, a diary. Check out the Free Fishing Log data in Tools at the top of this page and start a diary on the waters you fish. You will be surprised as  how fast you can find out things after writing down the details of each venture to help you master your bodies of water.

 

All of us could go on for a long time as to how to take a new lake or river apart. It is up to you to find the tools and data you need to accomplish that mission with the understanding that the bass can still make you look silly.

 

Good luck and let us know how you do.  Tight Lines!!!!

 

 

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I use the Navionics Web App for the lakes in my area that don't have paper maps available. I love this thing. 

 

http://webapp.navionics.com/#boating@6&key=wtw}GbipwT

 

Luckily with bass they aren't able to read and archive interactions. Just because they've never seen a perch or a shad before doesn't mean that using that color won't get good reaction bites or at least force fish to reveal themselves out of interest and follow your bait. In addition there are certain super baits that work anywhere depending on water clarity that you can use without having a pattern locked down based on lake ecology. 

 

For clear water you can generally get by throwing green pumpkin, oxblood, watermelon, and other brown and green variations with decent success. In the northwest I'm often relying solely on finesse presentations such as drop shotting, ned rigs, shakey heads, and weightless baits like senkos rigged wacky or weedless.

 

With dirty/stained water people often will go with black, blue, dark red, chartreuse, and other neon colors because of the way they stand out in the water to fish. At this point though you may want to add additional factors to help the fish find the bait such as rattles, blades, or using specific baits that thrash and displace water to cause extra vibration in the water column. 

 

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On 2/12/2017 at 0:36 PM, Sam said:

Zack, you have asked the $64,000 Question. Your query highlights the challenge we all face on a new and old body of water.

 

Things under the water are in constant flux. They change so that one day the bass will stack up in the back of a creek and the next day they are half a mile away on the main lake. This can drive a grown man to cry.

 

So what do you do? You do your homework to try to figure out the body of water. And how do you do that? Easier said then done.

 

First, paper maps. The ones that show contours, points, humps, channels, sunken boats, bridges, roads so you will know where the docks and piers are located, and any thing else you can find to give you an idea of what you will be facing.

 

Second, you hit Google Earth and see the lake or river from the air. You can then see the grasses, downed trees along a bank, homes, piers, docks, bridges, etc. in real time.

 

Third, you go to the water and use your electronics to locate spots that looked promising on the maps and Google Earth. Take your boat out and using your electronics check out the places you found on your maps and Google Earth. No fishing, just check out the places you think the fish will be holding.

 

Fourth, while on the water note the water temperature so you will know where the bass "should" be and if they will be aggressive depending on the season.

 

Fifth, talk to others who have fished that body of water and go to the water's blog, if there is one, and read those posts. Ask your questions but be ready to receive very little helpful information if the guys on the blog are protective of the body of water. However, it has been my experience that the guys will give you some helpful tips if you are nice when you pen your queries.

 

Sixth, go to the section of this Forum that the waters are located and look up under the search option the names of the waters you fish. If they have been discussed you will find the data plus the names of the guys and gals fishing them. Send them a personal message or just ask your questions on a new thread regarding where you are fishing. We all do it. Sometimes we get good feedback and sometimes we get skunked.

 

With these six items on your bucket list completed, the time has arrived to try to find the bass. And were can they be? Top, middle or bottom of the water column. Holding tight to trees. Sunny day and under docks, piers and boats. Cloudy days around rip rap and just swimming around. This is your challenge. Use your favorite baits for each of the three depths. Experiment with speed of retrieve and colors. Change baits as often as necessary. Do what your gut tells you. Fish those techniques you have confidence.

 

You know the body of water now but the bass are doing their own thing. This is your challenge. To find out what the bass are doing and where they are holding. At least for that day or hour. Bass movements change with the wind, water temperature, sunny/cloudy days.......you know all the tricks the bass use to fool us. Top, middle or bottom. One or a combination of them. You have to experiment to find out where they are and what they want.

 

While on the water look to see what the other guys are doing. Are they way off the bank throwing big spinnerbaits? Close to the banks flipping and pitching plastics? Fishing in the middle of nothing that could signal a submerged brush pile, sunken boat or other structure that could hold the bass? Fast retrieve. Slow retrieve? Colors they are using? Anything you can glean from them will be helpful, especially if they know the waters better than you.
 

The "Eastern US" as your location is not helpful to us. "Eastern US" starts in Maine and goes all the way to Florida and includes states such as Kentucky, Tennessee, Pennsylvania, New York, and West Virginia for starters. Each state has different bodies of water; different fishing techniques; and the seasons of the year occur at difference times. Please consider adding your specific location and the bodies of water you fish to your avatar to help us help you.

 

If you do all that is mentioned in this thread there is still no guarantee you will locate the bass on your first or second adventure. You can always throw a crankbait fast to eliminate water but if you are not sure if the bass are in the area you are not doing yourself a favor. You may be eliminating water that will come alive in the afternoon or has already been active in the morning. Only time on the water will give you this data.

 

If you get totally frustrated, how about hiring a guide for a day? Good money spent to help you understand the waters and what the bass are doing at that time.  I have used guides on a lot of waterways and every trip has been helpful in locating places where the bass will be holding. Or should be holding. You want to see where the guide fishes and what baits he suggests you throw. This is a great short-cut to learning about any body of water.

 

And yes, you get on the Internet and look up blogs regarding the bodies of water you fish; get any state fish and game publications that list the fish in the waters so you can note the forage. After you catch a bass feel its stomach. If it is squishy they are eating shad, bream and bluegills. If it is hard they are eating crawfish. Go from there in type, size and color of your baits to try to match what they are eating at that time.

 

No one can give you the "magic bullet" as to where the bass will be on the days you fish. You can gather a lot of info on this Forum and blogs to point you in the right direction.  And you can subscribe to some wonderful magazines and Facebook publications to help you learn more about that little green monster that bring grown me to tears.

 

Keep a diary. Yes, a diary. Check out the Free Fishing Log data in Tools at the top of this page and start a diary on the waters you fish. You will be surprised as  how fast you can find out things after writing down the details of each venture to help you master your bodies of water.

 

All of us could go on for a long time as to how to take a new lake or river apart. It is up to you to find the tools and data you need to accomplish that mission with the understanding that the bass can still make you look silly.

 

Good luck and let us know how you do.  Tight Lines!!!!

 

 

 

 

Thanks for this post, I will certainly give thought to all of your points.  

 

To give you a little more info, I mostly fish about 3 - 4 local ponds that vary from 15 to 50 acres in size, an average of about 30, though I do plan to start fishing some medium size lakes and resovoirs in the upcoming season.  All are totally or mostly man made.  

 

I wrote this this post hoping to get some ideas about how others develop a pattern on unfamiliar waters.  I only fish about 1 - 3 times a week during the spring through fall, for about 1 to 4 hours at a time, unless I specifically plan a full day trip.  I've only been bass fishing for about a year and a half now.  I have basically figured out that I can catch a bass or two on every trip out up until the late spawn and post spawn period about 80% of the time or better and then the bite usually becomes less consistent and I have to break from a set gameplan on every trip out to even scratch out a little one.  

 

My goal this season is to work on getting on the fish more consistently during the seasonal/biological cycles (spawning, "winter patterns", etc.).  I've done a lot of reading on this forum and on the website, read bassmaster magazine articles and just finished a library book, and have looked at many videos, including glenn  may's and others.  All of these resources have been really helpful-  the above posts included.  Thanks to all who made them available.  

 

 

 

But to simplify my question in the original post-  

 

Im confident that I know how to use the tools (how to fish lures, tie rigs, cast rods, etc.) but I want some resources (that you've had luck with) that will help me choose when to use them.  

 

I know now that all this will come eventually with experience, but where do you start off when you're working on establishing a pattern ?

 

To start off, I'd really like to know how you all figure out:

 

1. What the fish are eating (crawdads vs. bluegills)? 

 

2.  When are the peak times for bass feeding (from what I've read and have experienced to a small degree in ponds, bass tend to feed heavily at certain times of the day in certain systems and that "golden hour" can vary depending on conditions)?

 

3.  What times of day or when in the year will bass key on certain structures or will that stick to it all year long? If so, how do you pick out a certain spot (one specific rock pile or one specific tree stump) in a big body of water?

 

 

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I have never looked for bait fish at any point in my 30ish years of bass fishing. Don't read fishing reports. They will either give you a too negative or too positive of a mindset. Unless the weather is unsafe don't pay too much attention to it.

 

Points, structure, cover, humps, grass, and much farther down the list is wood. That's all I look for anywhere. I fish more new water than old and can't remember five times I went home disappointed. Sure, there are slow days but I know I am on fish. They will be in one of these six areas year round, 24/7. If you show me an acre of water 90% of it is dead. 

 

A piece of advice I can give is don't let trees fool you. If it's the middle of the day, mid summer then sure, great cover. The rest of the year ask yourself if the trees weren't there would there be any bass there? If the answer is no then it's more than likely dead water. Docks fall into this too.

 

As far as matching the hatch use common sense in a new area. It almost always will have crawfish, bream, and some type of shad/minnow. Keep the colors simple. Everywhere in this country fishes close to the same. The depth, fish transition related to time of year, current, and tides are the only real X factors I have noticed.

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Try this,.. Start out with no info whatsoever.

 Pick a new water, go there and just fish your strengths. Like if you produce fish with a senko at other waters, go with that. Use your instincts, try areas that look good to you, are downwind from the past few days wind direction etc..., Fish around birds if present. At the ramp , before you launch, flip a couple rocks or a log thats entering the water search out a crayfish for color, keep an eye out for tiny baitfish jumping etc. These are small things that can lead you towards becoming adept at reading waters. It doesnt just happen, and although you can receive instruction and direction, these are things best served by yourself. You will gain a better grasp of the "big picture" if you help paint that pic yourself. Some tips needed for new waters will eventually come with just a few glaces towards weather conditions, lake type, water color/clarity, seasonal considerations, and if available? depth. 

  No depth maps? no biggie, a heavy bottom bouncing lure can help with that. No idea of prevailing baitfish? again, no biggie. Most areas have one of a few, and whats found down the street to be prevailing "may" not be the same where you decided to fish today? they more often than not, are the same. Like Tennesse Valley authority lakes? shad,...Up here in the northeast? smelts, Great lakes ? maybe gobies etc.

 Using "your strengths' while you fish, a new place? ,...Will produce confidence via conformation. 

 

 Sorry, the one thing we cant physically hand you, like say,.. a spinnerbait, or certain plastic. Is confidence,... And the quicker you gain it? The easier fishing anywhere will be

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Wow, there's some really good posts in here to help! Cheers guys.

I think Sam n.a.i.l.e.d. it!! I was reading along thinking of what I could add on to what Sam was saying, and it's nearly impossible. lol.. he hit every note.

With that said I saw something to add, in a comment after Sam's.

 

Quote

To start off, I'd really like to know how you all figure out:

 

1. What the fish are eating (crawdads vs. bluegills)? 

 

2.  When are the peak times for bass feeding (from what I've read, bass tend to feed heavily at certain times of the day in certain systems and that "golden hour" can vary depending on conditions)?

 

3.  What times of day or when in the year will bass key on certain structures or will that stick to it all year long? If so, how do you pick out a certain spot (one specific rock pile or one specific tree stump) in a big body of water?



An app that would help with this exact question would be Fishbrain. People log their catches where they catch them, and log what they caught them on. Sometimes with a description about the catch. It also creates graphs that will show you each day (and if you buy into the app, a forecast into the future) of "peak times" to catch bass.

 

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On ‎2‎/‎11‎/‎2017 at 9:44 PM, Outdoor Zack said:

know this is a broad topic without a single answer, but I'm looking for ideas..

 

 

When you visit a new place, how do you ID important details like:

 

 

      Primary forage for bass

 

      Key features/contours

 

      feeding/spawning cycles 

      

 

@Outdoor Zack

 

Fishing new water is one of my favorite aspects of this awesome past time.

And every angler can certainly benefit from the abundance of time tested advice offered in this thread to date. 

When considering the basic premises you listed above, each of us probably has a different approach and the reasons for this may be as varied as the levels of success experienced.

 

For me it comes down to knowledge first & experience second.  Having some of both is helpful but as has been proven many a time, not totally necessary.  

 

So with that in mind, there can be a few different things to consider.  First, each body of water is its own deal.  Many can be & are similar.  Important thing may be there are No set rules.  So what may produce fish in one place or local may or may not garner the same results elsewhere.   The old saying ‘That a bass is a bass’, can & should be still held close to the heart.  But understanding how & perhaps why each habitat may see the bass in it displaying the undeniable adaptability these fish we love chasing are so famous for may help guide one toward success.

 

There is no replacement for time on the water, however one usually will benefit most from this with eyes wide open looking to learn.  On that same note, many very successful bass anglers have been down this road ahead of us and have offered their findings & experiences for all to see in the form of various books, publications, video’s & articles.   

 

Clearly there’s so much it seems overwhelming.  This can be said about most long standing pastimes where humans are so passionate.  There may be no short cut to it.  And getting ones ‘degree’ in bass fishing can be tough and in my own case, a lifelong quest. 

 

 However knowing and being able to apply “The Basics” is never a bad plan and may be just what you’re looking for when discussing primary forage, key features / bottom contours, & the life cycle of a bass.   Still, there’s no denying that weeding through even this can test one’s constitution.   May not be a need to read & know it all, only as much as & what you feel will benefit you and your fishing. 

 

 I believe that my own fishing has truly benefitted not only from time on the water but especially from learning what I can; both on and off the water.   And when it comes to fishing new areas, my own years of angling have me believing two basic concepts.

 

First, and this is something that can be both reassuring & defeating depending on one’s own perspective, just because I’m not getting bit in a spot, area or even an entire lake, may not mean that the fishing isn’t Excellent.  Which leads me to the second thought.

 

 Regardless of how ‘fishy’ an area or spot appears both on the surface & below (with mapping etc) the proof is in the pudding; meaning there are so many other factors that come into play besides what it looks like, that I may need to fish it many different ways & at many different times before unlocking the secret.  THIS ALWAYS TAKE A LOT OF TIME, BUT IS TIME WELL SPENT.  Sometimes it pans out in the form of bass in the net and often times it does not – but despite the occasional bits of frustration that might come with it, I love to do it as often & as much as I possibly can.  Because I'm still learning.

The Bass Fishing Satisfaction experienced with new Lake Success, even many years and decades later, is still one of the things I love and appreciate most.

 

A-Jay

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"Catching bass is easy, finding them is the challenge." ... Rick Clunn

 

Bigger lakes have guides and baitshops that are a wealth of knowledge.  First I would like to

know which part of the lake is most active right now.  What structure or cover seems to be

hot; the depth that fish are being caught and finally, which class of lures are getting bit.

 

If I don't know anything about a lake my first target is the dam. Next are primary and secondary

points.  Along the way we will discover other areas of interest, vegetation, wood and transition.

The quest is to narrow down the options and focus on things where you have experienced success

in the past.

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1. Study a good topographic map, 1' evelation if possible.

2. Talk to anglers who know the lake, if possible.

3. Look up the forage base and types of game fish the lake has.

4. Determine the water temps and clarity when on the water.

5. Apply all my experience to the current conditions, see The Cosmic Clock and Bass Calendar.

6. Rarely fish from shore, sonar is my friend.

Tom

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I'll map study of the topography of not only the body of water but the surrounding area.

 

I find out the forage base & game fish

 

Then I hang the phone, turn off the computer, & get on the water by whatever means are available.

 

I can usually learn a lot from the vegetation around the body of water, on the shoreline, & in the water to decide where to start.

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On 2/17/2017 at 1:56 PM, Catt said:

 

I can usually learn a lot from the vegetation around the body of water, on the shoreline, & in the water to decide where to start.

 

Can you explain this more please?

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50 minutes ago, Outdoor Zack said:

 

Can you explain this more please?

 

Certain vegetation grows in specific bottom composition.

 

Many hardwoods grow in low laying bottom areas, if I see them in a lake I know there's a dropoff near by.

Conifers do not grow in low laying areas because of too much moisture, instead they grow on higher ground.

 

Emergent plants grow in certain bottom composition.

 

 

That's just a couple ;)

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The fact that you are catching until the end of spawn, then only catching juveniles (it sounds like) is very telling, and common, even in small waters.

 

Mature bass often move away from shorelines in summer. This is the norm, but there can be exceptions. If you are fishing from the shore, almost certainly there will be some catching opportunities from the shoreline, but you will have to look for them and they may be restricted in place and time,as well as approach angles. I have some long-casting rigs for fishing from the shoreline in mid-summer, when bombing out to distant targets can give you the best chances at getting bit. If you don't have a boat, consider getting a float tube or kayak. It will open up a water body to you like nothing else.

 

Early in the summer period (post-spawn/early summer -when you said you lose contact with your bass) bass commonly collect up on prominant structure/cover pieces at the "first drop-off", outside weed edges, .... prominant features away from the shoreline. Seems they like a little 'elbow room' then. (What they are really doing is redistributing to summer haunts.) If there is a lot of good structure/cover available, the fish may be more distributed. If not, they can be more concentrated. I've seen numbers using single isolated cover pieces such as single weed stalks, a bush, or a prominant drop -out away from shorelines. Cover water then, keep your eyes peeled, cast and find them. Immediately post-spawn, bass can still be high in the water column, so don't fish under them.

 

Food: Bass can usually adapt to -learn how to hunt- the most abundant prey fish in the lake. Find out the most common prey species in your waters (observation, DNR, other fisherman) as the bass are probably making use of those. The bass will know where and when they are most vulnerable, and stay on them. In my waters it's bluegills; Follow the appropriate sized 'gills and you'll be near bass. If there are lots of crayfish in a water body, it's likely bass make some use of them. Ways to search them out is to turn shoreline cobbles, strain vegetation, set crayfish traps, or search the shallows at night with a powerful flashlight. Keep in mind though that while crayfish can make up a large proportion of SM diets, this is more rarely the case for LM. LM tend to be primarily piscivorous.

 

It's not so important to "imitate" prey, as it is to know where and when the most vulnerable prey is. Where are bass getting fed in your ponds? One thing I'll do before fishing is walk a pond shoreline and look for areas with concentrations of bluegills. I almost invariably find bass there. I also keep my eyes peeled while I fish for feeding bluegills and feeding bass. "Activity" like rising bluegills, and/or surging bass, is something to be watching for.

 

As to timing, the "when"... some generalities (there are ALWAYS exceptions):
-Bass are energetically most efficient between 50F and the low 80'sF. In most waters, bass are perpetually hungry in this range. But, in most waters, bass are not able to feed effectively whenever they want to. (There are some exceptions -Baccarac comes to mind.)

-Increasing temps can be a turn-on, except at high temps. Dropping temps can be turn-on mid-summer on. What this means is that bass may have some "energy to spare" during these times. Energy = Food/Metabolism

-Bass appreciate speed in your retrieve -often its required- in warmer water. Anglers often describe this as "Don't try to "feed" them, make them chase!"

-Learn retrieves and manipulations that trigger strikes. Use them. Be "with your lure" at all times. Bring a good lunch. Being a predator is an energy-expensive lifestyle. Ask any lion.

-In water <55F and >80'sF, bass may appreciate slower presentations, ones they know they can catch. (The latter -the high end of the range- often has to do with how much food is available to meet the bass's high metabolic needs. Otherwise they may lay low.)

-When bass hunt often has to do with when prey is most vulnerable.

-Bass are often most effective hunters in low light. They hunt by first getting into striking range.

-Prey is most vulnerable when it's engaged in feeding, when compromised in movement by lighting, cover, structure, current...any boundaries or borders. Bass are expert at reading this. They both know opportunities when they see them and they become active when opportunities are most likely. In this way, you and the bass have the same job.

-Bass are most effective hunters in broken cover -with room to run- but they are an adaptable species so can often get the job done in denser cover and open water too, both of which require more specialized fishing approaches.

-Bass (all fish) are very spooky under high visibility conditions and require a specialized approach. Chuck-n-wind can simply scare everything away.

 

Some stuff to chew on.

 

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8 hours ago, Paul Roberts said:

The fact that you are catching until the end of spawn, then only catching juveniles (it sounds like) is very telling, and common, even in small waters.

 

Mature bass often to move away from shorelines in summer. This is the norm, but there can be exceptions. If you are fishing from the shore, almost certainly there will be some catching opportunities from the shoreline, but you will have to look for them and they may be restricted in place and time,as well as approach angles. I have some long-casting rigs for fishing from the shoreline in mid-summer, when bombing out to distant targets can give you the best chances at getting bit. If you don't have a boat, consider getting a float tube or kayak. It will open up a water body to you like nothing else.

 

Early in the summer period (post-spawn/early summer -when you said you lose contact with your bass) bass commonly collect up on prominant structure/cover pieces at the "first drop-off", outside weed edges, .... prominant features away from the shoreline. Seems they like a little 'elbow room' then. (What they are really doing is redistributing to summer haunts.) If there is a lot of good structure/cover available, the fish may be more distributed. If not, they can be more concentrated. I've seen numbers using single isolated cover pieces such as single weed stalks, a bush, or a prominant drop -out away from shorelines. Cover water then, keep your eyes peeled, cast and find them. Immediately post-spawn, bass can still be high in the water column, so don't fish under them.

 

Food: Bass can usually adapt to -learn how to hunt- the most abundant prey fish in the lake. Find out the most common prey species in your waters (observation, DNR, other fisherman) as the bass are probably making use of those. The bass will know where and when they are most vulnerable, and stay on them. In my waters it's bluegills; Follow the appropriate sized 'gills and you'll be near bass. If there are lots of crayfish in a water body, it's likely bass make some use of them. Ways to search them out is to turn shoreline cobbles, strain vegetation, set crayfish traps, or search the shallows at night with a powerful flashlight. Keep in mind though that while crayfish can make up a large proportion of SM diets, this is more rarely the case for LM. LM tend to be primarily piscivorous.

 

It's not so important to "imitate" prey, as it is to know where and when the most vulnerable prey is. Where are bass getting fed in your ponds? One thing I'll do before fishing is walk a pond shoreline and look for areas with concentrations of bluegills. I almost invariably find bass there. I also keep my eyes peeled while I fish for feeding bluegills and feeding bass. "Activity" like rising bluegills, and/or surging bass, is something to be watching for.

 

As to timing, the "when"... some generalities (there are ALWAYS exceptions):
-Bass are energetically most efficient between 50F and the low 80'sF. In most waters, bass are perpetually hungry in this range. But, in most waters, bass are not able to feed effectively whenever they want to. (There are some exceptions -Baccarac comes to mind.)

-Increasing temps can be a turn-on, except at high temps. Dropping temps can be turn-on mid-summer on. What this means is that bass may have some "energy to spare" during these times. Energy = Food/Metabolism

-Bass appreciate speed in your retrieve -often its required- in warmer water. Anglers often describe this as "Don't try to "feed" them, make them chase!"

-Learn retrieves and manipulations that trigger strikes. Use them. Be "with your lure" at all times. Bring a good lunch. Being a predator is an energy-expensive lifestyle. Ask any lion.

-In water <55F and >80'sF, bass may appreciate slower presentations, ones they know they can catch. (The latter -the high end of the range- often has to do with how much food is available to meet the bass's high metabolic needs. Otherwise they may lay low.)

-When bass hunt often has to do with when prey is most vulnerable.

-Bass are often most effective hunters in low light. They hunt by first getting into striking range.

-Prey is most vulnerable when it's engaged in feeding, when compromised in movement by lighting, cover, structure, current...any boundaries or borders. Bass are expert at reading this. They both know opportunities when they see them and they become active when opportunities are most likely. In this way, you and the bass have the same job.

-Bass are most effective hunters in broken cover -with room to run- but they are an adaptable species so can often get the job done in denser cover and open water too, both of which require more specialized fishing approaches.

-Bass (all fish) are very spooky under high visibility conditions and require a specialized approach. Chuck-n-wind can simply scare everything away.

 

Some stuff to chew on.

 

 

Very interesting, thanks a lot.

 

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Study maps if available . If its a small lake look at it  on google maps .When I get to the lake I take a general impression then go fishing . Does it look high , low , clear , muddy , weedy , barren , Rock , wood , steepbanks , tapering banks , calm , windy, cloudy , sunny  , temperature , season , gulls ,  ... 

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Totally depends on the size of the water.  I will use Google Maps as well but for general advice, I try to cover a lot of water with "search" style baits until I can put a pattern together.  I will keep a lot of finesse baits rigged if it is new water.  

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