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OCdockskipper

Any Thoughts & Ideas On These Catch Rates?

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With some of you buried by feet of snow, I figured I'd give you some fishing statistics to mull over to distract you from being stuck inside.  The numbers of LMB I caught on my home lake dropped this year and rather than go through the typical questions, I thought if I made comparisons available, it might reveal a pattern or oddity that I am not seeing.  At the very least, it may raise a question that I didn't ask myself.  So without telling you too much about the lake or conditions, here are some numbers for the last 3 years:

 

2017 - 875 bass on 46 full day trips (19 per trip)

           6 trips with 30+ bass (top day 38)
           0 bass over 5 lbs

 

2016 - 1552 bass on 58 full day trips (27 per trip)

           19 trips with 30+ bass, 4 days with 50+ (top day 60)
           3 bass over 5 lbs  (largest 8 lbs, 4 oz)

 

2015 - 1357 bass on 51 full day trips (27 per trip)

           21 trips with 30+ bass, 4 days with 50+ (top day 69)
           2 bass over 5 lbs  (largest 7 lbs, 8 oz)

 

 

Additionally, here are the lures that caught most of the fish each year:

2017                           2016                           2015

Ned Rig        47%         Ned Rig        34%         Ned Rig        31%

Stickbaits     14%         Stickbaits      20%         Stickbaits     23%

T-Rig Plstcs   12%        T-Rig Plstcs    11%         T-Rig Plstcs   22%

Crankbaits      7%         Swimbaits       9%         Jerkbaits        8%

Topwater        6%         Crankbaits       8%         Topwater       5%

 

 

The 100 acre catch & release lake was built for a housing development and is private, so the water never fluctuates over a foot either direction.  The only noticeable difference in the water this year from the past two was earlier weed growth (bushy pondweed mostly) and more of it.  Over the summer, we had less overcast mornings & days, meaning more sunlight for the vegetation to flourish.  As for the bass themselves, they are extremely healthy.  It is rare to catch a skinny one, most have a belly and there are rarely any kinds of sores or infections on them.  

 

So does this look like an aberration, a down year that will be the exception or is it possibly the beginning of a downward trend?

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I tried to read the stats and answer your question........ then I got a little confused and I think I'll just have a Miller high life 

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I would suspect it might just be a reflection of certain year classes being stronger than others. Also, since the numbers of fish caught per trip was so high I would wonder if you are now getting competition on the water from other anglers.

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Are you fishing the same baits, colors, patterns the same way every year? In a body of water that small, may be possible they're becoming conditioned to seeing the same baits in the same baits, in the same places all the time. 

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I noticed that you caught most of your bass on the same baits each year, and in a lake that small, they'd have to be getting accustomed to and wary of the same lures that they have already seen and perhaps caught on.  Try mixing it up a little this year.

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I don't know, but make me wanna move there now, too bad I can't afford to live in OC.

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One slightly off year is not a trend. But I agree it is possible you are beginning to pressure the lake.

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3 hours ago, Turtle135 said:

I would suspect it might just be a reflection of certain year classes being stronger than others. Also, since the numbers of fish caught per trip was so high I would wonder if you are now getting competition on the water from other anglers.

I hadn't considered the year class potential issue but that may be a contributor.  2 years ago the late spring & summer had alot of overcast days, so weed growth was less that year.  Maybe that year class had less places to hide, got eaten by predators and the drop in 12+inch fish is showing up now as they would be coming into that size range.

 

There is only 1 other fishing boat on the water with any regularity, a couple of guys who go out for a few hours about twice a month or so.  Other than that, it is mostly folks fishing off their dock for catfish in the summer and folks who pile 8 people into a pontoon boat and go out in the middle of the lake as if they are trying to catch tuna :D.  But that is SoCal for you, bass fishing really isn't on the radar here. 

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3 hours ago, Bluebasser86 said:

Are you fishing the same baits, colors, patterns the same way every year? In a body of water that small, may be possible they're becoming conditioned to seeing the same baits in the same baits, in the same places all the time. 

I try to mix it up, not only in bait selection, but in how I fish different areas.  On the bait side for example, a Ned Rig is my top producer, but that consists of TRD's, hula Stickz, finesse Shadz and Berkley Moneymakers (I will be trying the TRD Hogz & Roboworm ned worms this month as well).  I do lean towards the more natural colors (green pumpkin, California Craw) because the water is fairly clear.  It is interesting you mention fishing them the same way, for i cut out a little diagram on the different midwest finesse retrieves and keep it out in the open as a reminder to keep mixing the retrieves up.

 

I do notice that every year, there is a lure that will produce better for a few weeks than it had previously and then return to being average.  In 2015, there were a few trips in the fall where jerkbaits absolutely slayed them.  In 2016, 3" swimbaits had a few consecutive trips where they were the clear bait of choice.  Topwater-wise, 2015 was the year of the Zara Puppy but I found that in 2017 they much preferred prop baits over walking baits.  I have to be careful not falling into a habit of going back to those baits just because they worked in the past under the same conditions, because as you suggested, it does seem like they become conditioned to specific moving baits after a short while.

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2 hours ago, JustJames said:

I don't know, but make me wanna move there now, too bad I can't afford to live in OC.

That's funny because I often think about moving (back) to Canyon Lake!!

 

I think that while you may have a bit more fishing pressure and have to put up with skiers in the summer, Canyon Lake may actually have a better population of bass based on a wider range of prey (especially the threadfin shad) and access to deep water.  Lake Forest prey consists of just bluegill and thrice a year stocked crayfish and is just a carved out bowl with a maximum of 12 ft depth, no feeder creeks or points to work with.

 

The grass is always greener...:D

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Are you getting 3 and 4 pound bass in the mix?

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Looking at the stats: you seem to be catching at approx. 71% on average for soft plastics

(you list swim baits in 2016 and mention 3in ones but not sure if they are hard or soft bodied)

 

What percentage of time are you spending throwing those soft plastics compared to moving type baits?

Most success is in the Ned rig; have you tried the opposite and thrown larger soft plastics like a 10 in worm?

 

Also the fish in that lake wont eat a jig?

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Well said "grass always greener on the other side"

i don't keep track of how many I caught but might possibly well over 100 with more than 20 bass over 4 lbs. The thing is I don't have stable lures just yet, I'll try everything I had or buy new lures. I caught plenty of bass with lures that I never caught bass before. I don't fish like you guys all day all night, my goal is to catch bass sometimes just 1-2 and I'm happy ready to come home spend time with my lovely wife and the dogs. 

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3 hours ago, Turtle135 said:

Are you getting 3 and 4 pound bass in the mix?

Yes, probably 1 or 2 bass a trip (10%) are over the 3 lb mark.  Healthy 3 lbers too, right in the 18" range.  What I haven't gotten this year is the occasional fish that tops the 20" mark.

 

BTW, these are Northern largemouth, not Florida strain and despite being a California private lake, there are no trout available to make an easy meal.

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1 hour ago, BassNJake said:

Looking at the stats: you seem to be catching at approx. 71% on average for soft plastics

(you list swim baits in 2016 and mention 3in ones but not sure if they are hard or soft bodied)

 

What percentage of time are you spending throwing those soft plastics compared to moving type baits?

Most success is in the Ned rig; have you tried the opposite and thrown larger soft plastics like a 10 in worm?

 

Also the fish in that lake wont eat a jig?

Great questions to make me think, thanks.

 

The swimbaits were soft, Keitich or BPS speed shads on an open darter jighead.

 

I throw soft plastics probably 70% of the time, mainly due to the predominant cover being docks and pontoon boats.  I have had a history of sometimes fishing a moving bait around these areas with no success & then doubling back with a slow moving bait and picking up fish, so I might be giving up on moving baits a bit too quickly when they don't produce.

 

I have thrown larger Berkey & Roboworms with limited success.  That could be a mental thing for me, my confidence on this lake is smaller sizes (Zara puppy vs. Zara spook, etc).

 

It is funny you mention jigs, they produce real well in the 6 weeks of winter we get (mid December through January).  Last week I caught 19 bass, 17 were on a finesse jig with a Batwingz trailer.  However, their production seems to fall off compared to plastics as the spawn begins.  In the summer, when the weed growth is at its highest, I have been punching a jig into the holes of the pondweed with limited success.  However, that limited success may be due to my lack of experience punching more than the method itself.

 

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This is just the kind of stuff I need while it's -20°. So in 3 years you caught 3,784 bass out of a 100 acre lake. I definitely assume some of the fish you have caught were repeat offenders, 2 or 3, maybe even several times. A 100 acre lake is a small body of water, and you have pulled a lot of fish from it, many of which came using the same presentation. Like others have said, could be you're beginning to pressure the lake.

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3 minutes ago, Jar11591 said:

This is just the kind of stuff I need while it's -20°. So in 3 years you caught 3,784 bass out of a 100 acre lake. I definitely assume some of the fish you have caught were repeat offenders, 2 or 3, maybe even several times. A 100 acre lake is a small body of water, and you have pulled a lot of fish from it, many of which came using the same presentation. Like others have said, could be you're beginning to pressure the lake.

Good observation.  I recall an article saying ponds & small lakes typically support 100 lbs of bass per acre (someone please correct me if that is off).  So if this lake has 10,000 lbs of bass and half that weight is 1-2 lb fish, that comes out to 3333 fish in the keeper range (the rest being dinks or big-uns).  So maybe I have just caught every fish in the lake :)!!

 

In regards to pressure, I typically fish once a week and it takes me a full summer day to fish the entire lake (unless I am catching a bunch in a certain area, then I don't make it around).  Sometimes I may not hit certain coves or areas for 3-4 weeks.  I'm curious how that kind of pressure compares to a major reservoir or large body of water that receives much more traffic but spread over a much larger area.

 

I know I have re-caught fish, I even had a friend catch one that was in the midst of pooping out a Roboworm he had stolen off his hook the week before!!  I often wonder if any of the big fish I caught had are retreads, the 5 biggest were all within a lb of each other (8-4, 8-2, 8-2, 7-8, 7-8).  They were all caught in different areas, the closest 2 maybe 50 yards away, all spread out over a 3 year period (2014-2016).  Two were caught within 2 weeks of each other, but they were at complete opposite ends of the lake.  All were caught on different lures with the exception of one of the 7's & one of the 8-2's being caught on a TRD, however all five were caught on slow moving plastics as opposed to moving baits.  In fact, I have yet to catch one over 5 lbs on this lake on a moving bait, which may explain my leaning towards plastics.

 

While I am pretty sure there are schools of bass year round here, during the post spawn I will see alot of schools of wolfpacks cruising the shallows.  These schools will number from a 1/2 dozen fish to over 40 (which is an awesome sight to see). When I find a school offshore, it typically doesn't result in more than 2 or 3 fish, so either these fish school in smaller packs or move on pretty quickly.  Oddly enough, none of the fish over 5lbs have been offshore, all of those fish were relating to a dock or retaining wall in 2-7 feet of water.

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The most important question is this - Are you having fun out there ?  

 

After all, they are just fish. I know that sounds like heresy, but the older I get the more important that aspect of fishing becomes !

 

Just sayin.

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1 hour ago, davecon said:

The most important question is this - Are you having fun out there ?  

 

After all, they are just fish. I know that sounds like heresy, but the older I get the more important that aspect of fishing becomes !

 

Just sayin.

 

Absolutely!!  In addition to enjoying bass fishing, it is part of my personality to keep track of statistics and analyze, something I enjoy to while away the time.  I also know that sounds foreign to many, that stats and pouring over numbers seems like work to those who don't enjoy it.

 

My interest in tossing this information out to the other forum members is not necessarily to increase my catch ratio, but rather to try to understand why something is different.  That might be a fruitless pursuit, much like mastering golf.  Even if I don't necessarily figure something out, I find the process enjoyable.

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Do you only fish this private lake for bass and not over locations in the 3 years of data presented? Maybe its time to try other locations, including public bodies of water.  It seems like the catch rate of small to regular bass is good but low for bass over 5 pounds. I find these results surprising for California since its a well known state for big bass. I see a 8 pounder in 2016 and none over 5 pounds in the whole year of 2017. Maybe the bass are getting pressured too hard and they are not biting as much, might be time to change the lures you use and how you present them, and maybe there is not many big bass in the private lake you are showing data from. You can contact your state and they might be able to help you.

On 1/4/2018 at 11:04 PM, hawgenvy said:

 it is possible you are beginning to pressure the lake.

 It is very possible he might be over pressuring the lake, especially since its only 100 acres. I tend to rotate many of the places I fish and find new places to add to my list of fishing locations in order to not over pressure bass in any location. By doing this I am consistent at catching big bass month after month, year after year.

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I highly doubt you are over pressuring it. We fish a few 80 acre lakes and catch the same multiple big fish multiple times a year sometimes. We tag them. We went through a 1.5 year phase where We didn't land a bass over 5lbs and were catching a lot of 15-17 inch fish that were maybe 10-12oz. Skinny as a rail. We removed 300 eater crappie and 100 small bass that next year. We have had multiple 20lb limits since doing so. Which is a big bag for indiana. We still keep about 30-45 small bass and around 150 crappie each year and the fishing keeps getting better and better. I would say it was an off year and maybe some small fish need to be relocated to the dinner plate.

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9 hours ago, OCdockskipper said:

 

Absolutely!!  In addition to enjoying bass fishing, it is part of my personality to keep track of statistics and analyze, something I enjoy to while away the time.  I also know that sounds foreign to many, that stats and pouring over numbers seems like work to those who don't enjoy it.

 

My interest in tossing this information out to the other forum members is not necessarily to increase my catch ratio, but rather to try to understand why something is different.  That might be a fruitless pursuit, much like mastering golf.  Even if I don't necessarily figure something out, I find the process enjoyable.

As long as you're having fun !

 

Just to relay a similar story - many years ago here in central Florida I used to fish a power plant reservoir that was roughly 2000 acres, 20 hp limit, and only open 2 weekends per month to Florida residents only, no pro guides, limited to number of anglers per day.

 

As you can imagine, the fishing was fantastic !  Expected to catch at least 20 on a slow day with at least 3 over 5. Honestly, that was a slow day. Many, many days of 100 plus. Bluegills were huge - averaging close to 1 pound. Crappie were enormous. 2 and a half pounders were so common they didn't raise an eyebrow with several pushing 4 pounds every year. Cat fish were ridiculous. You could fill a 48 quart cooler using a rattletrap in slightly over an hour. It was like paradise on earth.

 

Oddly, for no obvious reason, there would be a shortage of a particular year class. We would go for a year without catching, for example, many 2 pounders. The next year, very few 3 pounders, etc. It was really weird as we could never come up with a cause and effect, not even the biologists had a reason other than "bad recruitment year" which to us meant he didn't know either.

 

This happened several times.

 

I only relay this as it may ease your suspicions that what you are seeing is not necessarily something you, pressure, familiar lures/techniques, etc has caused. It may very well be just the ebb and flow of natural cycles, something that none of us will fully understand and is a major component as to why enjoy this fantastic hobby so much.

 

Enjoy yourself out there !

 

 

 

 

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On 1/6/2018 at 12:47 AM, soflabasser said:

Do you only fish this private lake for bass and not over locations in the 3 years of data presented? Maybe its time to try other locations, including public bodies of water.  It seems like the catch rate of small to regular bass is good but low for bass over 5 pounds. I find these results surprising for California since its a well known state for big bass... 

 

The stats are only for my home lake that I live on.  I occasionally fish other bodies of water, but don't keep detailed notes on them because it is usually once a year or lease (no good for statistical comparison). 

 

As for fishing other locations, that is troublesome where I live.  First off, bodies of water are few & far between and there literally are no public freshwater lakes here in Orange County that you can launch a boat on.  Second, California lakes have regulations prohibiting you from launching a boat that was on another body of water within some time period (Tom knows the specifics) in an effort to stop zebra mussels.  In other words, you can't bounce from lake to lake every weekend unless you have a fleet of boats, one designated for each lake.  Third, to go fishing now, I walk out my back door, pull the cover off the boat and go.  That convenience makes the process of going to other lakes seem like too much work :).  

 

Most of the big bass from California are Florida strain, which are not in every lake.  My lake has northern strain & since the lake is not connected to any other body of water, we don't get any other species washed into the lake.  The forage base doesn't lead to a lot of bigger bass (three 8's & two 7's since the summer of 2014), but that is okay for me because I am more of a numbers guy than someone who focus's on catching the largest bass in the lake.

 

I hope my original post wasn't misleading, for I am in no way complaining about the output of the lake.  I am so lucky to have this lake nearly all to myself and an average of 19 bass a day, while down from the past, is still something many folks would love to have.  There was just a noticeable change this year that caught my eye and I thought it would be a fun exercise to explore why.

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On 1/6/2018 at 7:13 AM, davecon said:

...Oddly, for no obvious reason, there would be a shortage of a particular year class. We would go for a year without catching, for example, many 2 pounders. The next year, very few 3 pounders, etc. It was really weird as we could never come up with a cause and effect, not even the biologists had a reason other than "bad recruitment year" which to us meant he didn't know either...

 

Enjoy yourself out there !

 

Great story and the more I think about the potential issue of a year class missing, the more applicable it may be.  If 2015 was a poor recruitment year, that would mean less 10"-12" fish would be showing up in 2017, which would affect the numbers of fish caught.  The other bass would have more prey available, so most fish caught would have a belly as opposed to being skinny (which they are).  With more prey available, the largest bass in the lake could be even more discerning about when & where they eat, lessening the chance to run into a lunker following the spawn.  

 

Now I have to think back to the spring of 2015 to figure out what happened!! :)

 

Thanks again for the comments.

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On 1/4/2018 at 11:17 PM, OCdockskipper said:

I try to mix it up, not only in bait selection, but in how I fish different areas.  On the bait side for example, a Ned Rig is my top producer, but that consists of TRD's, hula Stickz, finesse Shadz and Berkley Moneymakers (I will be trying the TRD Hogz & Roboworm ned worms this month as well).  I do lean towards the more natural colors (green pumpkin, California Craw) because the water is fairly clear.  It is interesting you mention fishing them the same way, for i cut out a little diagram on the different midwest finesse retrieves and keep it out in the open as a reminder to keep mixing the retrieves up.

 

I do notice that every year, there is a lure that will produce better for a few weeks than it had previously and then return to being average.  In 2015, there were a few trips in the fall where jerkbaits absolutely slayed them.  In 2016, 3" swimbaits had a few consecutive trips where they were the clear bait of choice.  Topwater-wise, 2015 was the year of the Zara Puppy but I found that in 2017 they much preferred prop baits over walking baits.  I have to be careful not falling into a habit of going back to those baits just because they worked in the past under the same conditions, because as you suggested, it does seem like they become conditioned to specific moving baits after a short while.

What type of retrieval worked the best for your ned rigs?

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