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Well, it just hit me like a ton of bricks, right between the eyes!  I went out last weekend to my favorite lake and there just happened to be tournament. It may have been a combination of two tournaments, as there 100+ kayaks and a lot of big boats. It sounded like Daytona at the start. Anyway, lots of kayaks and big boats equated to a pretty crowded 2300 acre lake. But, I was ok with that. I decided to go out anyway, because I'm still learning to use my electronics and I wanted to get familiar with my new Motorguide Xi5.

Aside from spending quality time with my electronics and trolling motor, the day was unproductive. It was the first time that I was totally skunked and not even a bite.  And then it struck me! I literally had no idea where to start looking for fish.  My regular places were all "occupied", but even with that, I realized that being able to read a fish finder did little good if I didn't know where to start.

Then, this morning, I saw a video that Glenn made where he interviewed several pros prior to a tournament and asked them "What are 3 things you look for when preparing to fish an unfamiliar lake?". Their answers-Season/time of the year, water clarity, weather conditions, wind, etc. I think you get my point. All the important stuff that effects the behavior of the fish at any given time. All the learning of electronics, trolling motors, and fishing techniques have little impact on fishing success unless you know that stuff. Duh! 

So, now I'm in pursuit of educating myself on all the stuff that every bass fisherman, or wannabe bass fisherman, needs to know before ever getting on the water. Feel free to weigh-in, no pun intended.

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I'm in a similar boat. I've only really been serious into bass fishing for like 4 to 5 years now. Before that was just either bobber fishing for whatever bit as a little kid, or tossing rubber worms at any piece of visible cover that looked "fishy" hoping for a bite, paying no attention to conditions. 4 or 5 years ago I realized how much I enjoyed the sport and started doing....the exact WRONG thing that I should have, with a little of the right sprinkled in. I started buying tackle, making sure I had situations covered to my satisfaction. I could tell you he theoretical reason I made each purchase but I still struggled to apply that theory. It's only been the past couple or few years that I started trying to actually pursue what matters; knowledge. I joined forums, started reading tons of articles, watching videos and trying to learn how to succeed, not buy it. I still buy tackle pretty frequently but I realize now what I should have realized 4 or 5 years ago...no lure is a magic bullet. No matter the conditions, the lure itself should not be my focus, it should be on finding the fish, and every lure or tackle purchase needs to be in pursuit of that goal. Once I find them then I can worry about the subtle differences that might get me extra bites. I've been doing a lot of reading this winter of some of the classic books on bass fishing and already I feel I have gained more knowledge than in all the past years. Whether I can apply that knowledge or not is what I will be working towards this season. 

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 Hope I am not falling foul of any forum guidelines, but the KVD six season guide is a pretty good basic guide to understanding bass movement or lack thereof based on water temperature.

 

https://www.bassmaster.com/vandams-6-season-bass-guide

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I once worked a show with Gary Klein and he told me this "If I can find the fish, there are never fewer than at least 5 baits I can use to catch them".  Any lake, any season, any conditions.  

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Thanks, I just found KVD's 6-season guide this morning. Awesome information. If I may, I'd like to follow-up with another question. How would apply his principles to a power plant lake that is always warmer. Last week the water temp was 64°, and, from what I was told, fish were at 20' or better. Thx.

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It sounds like you are on the right path.  Once you learn the concepts affecting bass location, you still have to apply it on the water.  On the water don't be in a hurry and spend some time analyzing and applying your newly found knowledge using your electronics.  And by the way . . . . do you really know how to interpret every detail on your electronics?  If not, study that as well.  It is a process and you will have good days and bad, especially on very large lakes.  As your skill in applying your knowledge increases so will the good days, hopefully.  

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On 1/31/2018 at 1:53 PM, senile1 said:

It sounds like you are on the right path.  Once you learn the concepts affecting bass location, you still have to apply it on the water.  On the water don't be in a hurry and spend some time analyzing and applying your newly found knowledge using your electronics.  And by the way . . . . do you really know how to interpret every detail on your electronics?  If not, study that as well.  It is a process and you will have good days and bad, especially on very large lakes.  As your skill in applying your knowledge increases so will the good days, hopefully.  

Thanks for your input. Your advice on the electronics is right in line with what I was thinking, as I'm not fully up to speed on that either. I've got lots to learn and lots of time to learn it.

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I watched a youtube video asking the pros what to do when the fishing is tough . Half said slow down and fish more thoroughly and the other hale said speed up and cover more water . That means  I've been doing it right all along .

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On 1/29/2018 at 10:03 AM, Wannabe bass angler said:

Thanks, I just found KVD's 6-season guide this morning. Awesome information. If I may, I'd like to follow-up with another question. How would apply his principles to a power plant lake that is always warmer. Last week the water temp was 64°, and, from what I was told, fish were at 20' or better. Thx.

So are you saying that you feel like the cooling lake water was "warm" but the fish were in a winter pattern?  We live in central Illinois (unfortunately) where it gets extremely cold and the water gets hard.  But the cooling lakes (thankfully there are several) don't freeze over.  Depending upon which lake (we have both coal and nuke) and how much power they are producing we could have a cooling lake with water at 50 degrees in January, which sounds like warm water for central Illinois in January, but the fish don't know that. 

 

Think about lakes in Arizona where it's so hot all spring, summer, and fall that fish may hit a winter pattern if the water drops to 70.  That's what a cooling lake is like.  You have to forget about air temp and think about what the fish experience throughout the year and what they have experienced recently in order to find the current pattern. 

 

Do the fish act differently in cooling lakes?  Well, yes they can.  And where you are on the lake can make a difference also.  Several of our cooling lakes have "warm arms" and "cold arms".  You can have a good wind blowing baitfish into the shallows (with bass chasing them) in the warm arm in December when our other lakes are starting to freeze.  It's similar to fishing a reservoir.  It helps to know what the fish have experienced recently.  In a reservoir you want to know how much water has come in, how many sluices have been open lately and how long/often were they open.  In a cooling lake it's good to know if the plant has been pumping hard or not putting out much.  Have the water temps been steady, increasing, or decreasing lately?  Just like any other weather pattern, the power plant creates the "weather" in the lake water.  You have to fish it accordingly.  And if all else fails, throw the kitchen sink at them.  If I'm flying blind I start on top and work my way from top to bottom until I find fish.  

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A lot of good stuff already said in this post. But I’ll add my 2 cents.

 

Your electronics are just a tool. You have to understand their capability and use. Then use your other knowledge about season patterns, water clarity, how fish relate to cover and structure to efficiently break down a body of water.

The knowledge gives you a starting spots to begin. Your electronics allows you to see the spots within the spots. You’ll see exactly where the brush, or rock pile is. Where the break on the edge of a flat is. You can even see fish set up on the ambush points.

Use all of your available tools.

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When I was guiding, I explained it to my clients like this.....Every single day I drop my boat in the water it's like dumping a 500 piece puzzle on the table.  The more of those pieces I can put together the better day we will have.  I use all the tools at my disposal plus my skill as a guide.  

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