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Do bass usually stay around cover when they are deep? (15'ish)

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Now to start, I know "deep" is a relative term, so let me explain and I have lots of questions. 

The lake I fish, bass tend to be caught in docks-13', that includes me and all the other tourney fisherman (cuz I may peak at where they are fishing :) ). Now that lake the submerged vegetation, which is the 95% of the available cover not including docks, only is established up to 13'ish, no coincidence. So my question is, since there is hardly any true cover/structure out past 13' does the bass utilize the rest of the open lake stating at 13.1'ish and deeper? I have caught some bass including smallies randomly out a little deeper open water, but since the vegetation gets so much pressure (not that big of lake), would it make sense to start to fish the deeper open water (13"-17') and if so when late morning? Alot of times i fish the breaklines, but not much more then 8 feet laterally past the breaklines. I know that bass are opportunist predators and ambush the prey in an around cover, but I didnt know if the times they are not actively hunting, they may go in the deeper open water where there is less pressure. :huh:

 

Thanks  

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If your cover (the vegetation) ends at 13 feet more or less, the structure (point, ridge, hump, channel, etc) typically continues beyond that and bass do use that structure beyond the cover.  Not to belabor the point, but structure consists of the different projections, humps, etc that form the shape of the bottom of the lake.  Cover consists of the trees, stumps, vegetation, docks, etc that are on the structure.  Breaklines are lines formed by a sharp change in depth, outside line of vegetation, change in bottom substrate, etc.  You might want to research these in depth as it will help you in your search for bass and I am only providing a cursory explanation in this post.  

 

Your vegetation will end where the turbidity of the water and the depth no longer allow enough light for it to grow.  If your lake is deeper than where the vegetation ends, bass will use a structure that extends beyond that depth.  As for exceptions to the rule, if bass are not the apex predator and some other organism exists that will feed upon them, bass will be less likely to use the part of the structure that is in open water with no protective cover.  Also, during the summer when a thermocline develops if it forms at a shallow depth bass will not go deeper than that depth because there isn't enough oxygen to support them.  

 

It is likely you are missing out on some good fishing if you don't fish beyond the vegetation, but then again if your lake bottoms out at 17 feet you may be fishing most of it anyway.  

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Three main types of topography where I fish:

1. gradual large flats the tapers to 18'

2. 8-13' benches that drop off to 40'+ 

3. Steep 45o+ slope to 40'+

 

1 hour ago, senile1 said:

If bass are not the apex predator and some other organism exists that will feed upon them, bass will be less likely to use the part of the structure that is in open water with no protective cover.

The only other large fish in there are walleye and smallies, so I would assume the largies and walleyes share apex with 2 different niches.

 

I guess I am trying to understand how there are suspended bass on drop offs that have no cover beside using the depth as "cover" compared to if bass would use the unvegetated deeper parts of the gradual flats to hang out to before they hunt....

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Is your lake a natural or man made impoundment?

What prey fish does your lake have?

Tom 

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@senile1 nailed it 😉

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38 minutes ago, WRB said:

Is your lake a natural or man made impoundment?

What prey fish does your lake have?

It is man made. As far as prey fish, its an on going argument with the anglers club of the lake what we have.  We have TONS OF PERCH, out of 12 years of fishing I seen less then 10 blue gill and less then 10 pumpkinseed, less then 100 minnows, what crayfish??, but we stock thousands of walleye and trout fingerlings every year (again not my choice). 

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Just one thing to add, you did not mention what time of year but if you meant "during the summer" does that lake stratify (develop a thermocline)? If so, then you can pretty much eliminate that area below the thermocline from your search (not enough dissolved oxygen down there).

 

Cooler water periods are different. On my local lakes in the winter, when the "warmest water" in the lake is 39 degrees, then the bass will be on the bottom (39 degree water being the most dense it will be down in the deep). The bass will be down there "loosely relating" to any cover or structural changes they can find down there. One log laying on the bottom can attract a bunch of bass.

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Read an article a few years ago where a study was made about the bass leaving their shallow haunts and going deep for the winter or due to weather conditions.

 

Seems the bass will stay in their area but go into deeper water or move a quarter of a mile in either direction.  But they are still close to where they call "home."

 

Even the bass that go on their own "milk runs" during the day seem to gravitate back to their home base.

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I think a lot of times the fish really haven't gone as deep as we think....sometimes they're out suspending in mid-depths over deep water. How to catch these fish? I wish I knew.

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The reason I ask the questions is to determine the classification of the reservior and if the prey fish source is dermasel or combination pelagic and dermasel. Pelagic fish like perch, crappie, Shad, trout and walleye roam off shore areas whereas dermasel fish like bluegill, green sunfish, most minnows including young of the year bass and walleye tend to be close to cover to hide in.

Bass are alpha predators and you haven't mentioned pike or musk so the bass can go wherever they want to seek prey.

Crawdads are in your reservior along with frogs and a wide varity or terrestrial small animals and insects that bass feed on.

Regarding 13' depth appears to be a mind set unless a thermocline develops at that depth and that is a summer period issue that dissapears in the cold water periods.

You tend to catch bass where you fish them and shoreline targets are preffered by bass anglers so most fish there. Where walleye and trout anglers tend to avoid shoreline cover areas preferring to troll for thier fish. Ask the walleye trollers if the catch occasional bass, if they do where and how deep.

Tom

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I'm not to concerned with adjectives used to describe your body of water!

 

I am however concerned with what's in front of you!

 

As @senile1 put this 13' depth & I'd be willing to bet plus/minus 3' is your outside grassline which in any body of water is a major breakline. You have pretty much established that depth as where most of the fish catching takes place.

 

To quote: So my question is, since there is hardly any true cover/structure out past 13' does the bass utilize the rest of the open lake stating at 13.1'ish and deeper? 

 

Three main types of topography where I fish:

1. gradual large flats the tapers to 18'

2. 8-13' benches that drop off to 40'+ 

3. Steep 45o+ slope to 40'+

 

Again you have listed 3 major types of structure!

 

I would spend a large portion of my time graphing #2 & 3 looking for subtle changes.

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Man made reserviors will have structure elements natural lake don't; no dam, no river or creek channels, no man made structure away from the shoreline on the lake bottom unless it's been added by anglers. 

Lif the life zone is between the surface and down to 13', that shrinks the lake to those areas. I haven't experienced that occurring in deep reservours with over 40' depths with pelagic bait fish and both Smallmouth and largemouth populations. 

Major points are the easiest to survey to determine how deep the bass are at, start there.

Tom

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How would an angler add structure?  I suppose dredging a boating channel, but that's not the anglers.

 

 

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34 minutes ago, J Francho said:

How would an angler add structure? 

 

 

 

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3 hours ago, J Francho said:

How would an angler add structure?  I suppose dredging a boating channel, but that's not the anglers.

 

 

Nor is it structure, but don't tell anyone ;)

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4 hours ago, J Francho said:

How would an angler add structure?  I suppose dredging a boating channel, but that's not the anglers.

 

 

Lots of ways to add structure. Lake that freeze over some anglers pile up rocks, cement blocks, fill old boats with rocks and blocks and they sink when the ice thaws. I know a plumber who takes old toilets and sinks several of them at areas to create isolated structure.

A local bass club built a reef from old tires and rocks about 100' long during low water period 30 years ago and still attracts bass today.

Tom

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Considered littering by most DNR agencies.  I'd argue most of that is cover.

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Bass can and do use deep water for their security and feeding - in every lake I've been on there are fish shallow and there are fish deep - if there are schools of pelagic bait fish many bass will spend their time following these schools - they provide perfect cover - alert to danger and a source of food. These bass can be tricky to find except when they corner the bait against the surface. I guess I'm trying to say deep fish do not necessarily relate to cover or structure the depths are their comfort zone.

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13 foot is deeper than the vegetation grows in the water I fish . There is weed growth on points out to about 6 foot . I catch fish out in deeper water consistently . 

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5 hours ago, scaleface said:

13 foot is deeper than the vegetation grows in the water I fish . There is weed growth on points out to about 6 foot . I catch fish out in deeper water consistently . 

I fish a couple lakes similar to the OP. not a lot of "cover " in the deeper depths, what do you key on in those situations. im assuming changes in elevation, areas that drop more steeply than others etc. basically what I would describe as "structure"

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1 minute ago, padon said:

I fish a couple lakes similar to the OP. not a lot of "cover " in the deeper depths, what do you key on in those situations. im assuming changes in elevation, areas that drop more steeply than others etc. basically what I would describe as "structure"

Mostly long points . 

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A simple answer to the OP’s question is yes. Fish residing in deep water after post-spawn will stay around cover if two other elements are present. Bass use cover as security and for ambushing prey. Depth provides security and in order to ambus prey, it either has to be present, or pass that deep cover. The first element is prey. The second is structure which the fish (and roaming types of forage) use in their movements. Most anglers that venture into fishing deep off shore structure are of the mind that the fish will be on, or close to the bottom. Although easier to lure when they are, they also suspend out, or above the structural break. 

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