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txchaser

Help me understand this pattern?

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I've seen the same pattern of small fish behavior in a couple of ponds where I fish. 10' vis so I get to see a lot of what goes on. Both are intermittently creek fed with manmade dams. 

 

When it is anything other than winter, fish of all sizes patrol the edges. I can't recall seeing them go in any other direction than counterclockwise. 

 

When it got cold, everything at 1/2 lb or better (including the perch/sunfish of size) were nowhere to be found visibly. Nearly dead-stick Ned rig found them all in the deep though. Jigging a chatterbait may draw some bigger ones. 

 

Anyway the smaller ones still come out in the afternoon and patrol, bass and perch mixed, mostly ignoring each other. None of the little ones will bite anything I've offered, including topwater flies. Haven't tried other flies. When it is warm they will bite nearly anything. But they are clearly cruising for something.

 

I have occasionally seen the larger ones move back up into the creek in the afternoon. Lots of cover there, but pretty shaded so not sure how it warmed up enough for them to move. Inconsistent.

 

Why are the little guys going back to normal patrol and the mid-size and larger ones not? What else should I be watching for? 

Related, any good resources for pond management? I've heard half the people say take the 12-14's out and half the people say take the big ones out, I'm guessing there's some science somewhere. Perch and bass pops both appear healthy, my starting place is don't mess with it, as everything is healthy and there's low pressure on the ponds.

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Not going to be much help but I know as pike grow up the bigger fish move out deep while the smaller fish stay in the shallows because of the fishes preferred water temp. The bigger fish need cooler water while the smaller fish can stay comfortable in the warmer shallow water.

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Go to YouTube and track down and watch @Paul Roberts videos. Lots of great info and underwater video of what goes on in the life of a bass pond.

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27 minutes ago, Team9nine said:

Go to YouTube and track down and watch @Paul Roberts videos. Lots of great info and underwater video of what goes on in the life of a bass pond.

Just made the connection! Watched a bunch last night. They are really good. 

 

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCata79WFUPYPDG33LrC57Wg/videos

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@txchaser, I see pretty much the same thing, or nearly so, in my ponds too. My (Fall to) Winter videos try to explain what I suspect, and appears, to be happening for them.

 

In some of my ponds, shorelines are where the primary cover is. So... everybody uses it. They then drop away from those shorelines as they become inhospitable. When I get the time I'll be adding to my Winter collection of videos on what more I've learned, or... think I've learned (Although, as we speak, I'm in the throes of finishing up the next documentary). During good thaws, some bass do come back to the shoreline cover, but, so far -like you've seen- they are juveniles. 

 

It's been fun keeping tabs on Brian's (@Team9nine) ponds over the years too, vicariously, via email. Same deal. Pretty cool. Since you're in TX, things may be a bit different for your fish, although winter is still mostly defined by water temps bottoming out. Here, in N CO, we have ice cover. Although my fish shrink away from shorelines as things get cold, they don't appear to abandon entirely until icing begins. Some bluegills however, at least the juvs, can be found in 2fow under the ice around cover. There's a reason for this. Bluegills are the most "labile" fishes in terms of temperature. And, they are primary forage, esp during winter, when the bass's performance falls.

 

As to those little ones, in terms of feeding, or striking lures... Several things are happening -a perfect storm, so to speak:

-Metabolism falls so need to feed goes with it. Winter is essentially about energy maintenance -stingily maintaining that body condition they managed to acquire post-spawn on. But, they can still lose body condition, so they will feed some.  

-Performance falls so they are less apt to try to tackle big, even "regular-sized", stuff. And they don't tend to chase.

-Water density and viscosity is up, which slows them down.

-Water clarity is up so they can scrutinize better. Watch some under-ice ice-fishing videos and see how that looks!

-And other stuff... It just isn't a simple world out there. My ears are always to the ground.

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Thanks @Paul Roberts!

I have a way to measure temps now so I'll see what I notice about the creek inlet vs the shores. Helpful to know that the bluegills are more able to deal with colder water.

 

Two zones of cover in one of these lakes, cockleburr infestation around the edges when the lake was low, then it rose a few feet. And a weed zone after that, around most of the lake. Very little otherwise. In warmer temps the boundary between those zones produces well. 

 

We do get some wild weather, we had young grasshoppers out and it had been in the 30's, and it was late December. Tossed one in and it was ignored. 

 

Is patrol direction a biological thing, N/S hemisphere thing, or just random by body of water?

 

 

 

For anyone tracking this thread, this is helpful. 

 

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19 hours ago, txchaser said:

Is patrol direction a biological thing, N/S hemisphere thing, or just random by body of water?

It's not a hemisphere thing. You know the saying... "All politics is local." Same with fish. :)

 

It's not "random" either. Fish really do know what they're doing. Bass are adaptable "generalist" hunters. A good chunk of their hunting involves cruising. In general, they only move as far as they need to find food. Once they are happy with a certain feeding rate, they may stay put (more or less). If not, they may do some serious wandering. This is how LM populations tend to find and make use of whatever prey types are available in a water body.

 

Bass get to know where the food is, and bc they can be mobile, they can cash in when opportunities develop, and then leave it and find something else when a scenario falters. They know their waters very well. And they have good memories so they will revisit spots that provided opportunities in the past. These capabilities are known from a whole lot of research from a number of research fields. And my own observations, esp via video, show the same thing: That bass know where they are, and what's important; Maybe more so than many of us urbanized people do. :) For us, the lid is off! For bass the pressure cooker is still tightly capped. This is why its a good idea for us to get some fishing, hunting, and study nature worked in. (OK... enough sermonizing; I get this way when I've been writing, and documenting, a lot.) 

 

Keep watching those fish. And let us know what you see. That's where the really good questions come from.

 

Here's to an awesome 2019, folks!

 

 

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