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Glaucus

I don't know what to do anymore

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I'm in Central Illinois (mods please don't move this thread as it has little to nothing to do with Illinois alone). Due to water temps and flooding I'm still not comfortable kayaking or wading, I'm bank fishing a local pond while I wait for my preferred waters to become fishable. I live in the boonies more or less. I really "hate" this place for fishing. My town has 150 people and the town where the pond is, 5 minutes away, has 100 people. It's not too heavily pressured. However the pond is loaded with bass. 4 and 5 pounders are in it, and I've caught them. On a good day you can see dozens roaming. But over the years, the fishing gets worse and worse every single year, despite catching a good one once in awhile and consistently seeing bass roaming. This year is continuing the trend and it's the worst it's ever been. I've tried jigs, craws, creature baits, chatterbaits, spinnerbaits, lipless crankbaits, Senkos rigged every way, Ned Rigs, drop shot, inline spinners, worms, weightless worms, squarebills, everything. Sometimes you can see them actually turn their head away at your lure. I've caught maybe 10 in a month.  Most days are a skunk fest. 

 

 

I just don't know what to do about this place anymore. It makes no sense to me. I've live in the area a long time and know that this pond doesn't see pressure. Most guys fish for catfish and bluegill out of here. Outside of me they rarely see a bass lure, and I only fish this place when I have to. From May to September I'm scarcely seen here (after learning my lesson over and over again that they just don't bite). I've never seen more finicky fish who shouldn't be close to finicky.

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If you're positive the population is there, they gotta eat.  It's up to you to figure out what they want to eat.  That being said, I would bet money that the place is going through a down "cycle" for whatever reason.  All bodies of water have ups and downs.  Keep at it and vary your lure selection.  

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Two baits came to mind....quivering (tiny twitches) a baby bass pop r......with many pauses.....second...three inch senko style bait ....no weight fished slow.

Good Luck

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Does anyone selective harvest any Bass? 

 

You said it's gotten progressively worse throughout the years? Look up some articles on pond management. 

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I noticed a bait you didn't list as having tried, and it may be due to limited availability in your area, but have you tried live bait?  I know the ole' bobber and hook may seem antiquated, but it could help you land some fish?  Also, I'm in northern Illinois, so we may not be experiencing the same conditions, but so far this Spring, I have caught every single one of my pass while panfishing.  Yes, 1/16th ounce jig head, and crappie plastics under a slip bobber, have landed me all of my bass so far in 2019, and two over 4lbs.  My buddy has caught a couple large bass this year on Mepps number 2 or 3's.  

 

1) Live bait (minnows)

2) Panfish bait (1/16th ounce)

3) Mepps (#2 or 3)

 

Those would be my recommendations.  

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Heavily pressured fish -got 'em here too. We all have them, to varying degrees, nowadays. We have to learn to work around it, which can mean, knowing when bass are most vulnerable.

First, lures are NOT prey. They are mistaken for prey. This is MUCH easier to do under certain conditions, and locations, and when bass are not alarmed.

 

Best conditions: 

Namely, reduced lighting: Night, deep overcast, wind ruffled surfaces, in and around cover/shade.

 

Best circumstances: 

When bass are feeding heavily on vulnerable prey. This is not common in most waters most of the time. Tip: Choose times and locations when prey is feeding heavily, and therefore distracted.

 

Best locations: 

Identify the places where bass get fed. Not all places are equal here. The bass hang around these places. Walk and look. Find concentrations prey. This is easier in some waters than others, due to bottom layout and cover options. Dishpan-contoured waters tend to be tougher to identify spots than convoluted ones. The most challenging might be the “swimming pool” -little cover, high clarity, lots of “open water”. I have a video about this on YT, called “Bluebird Blue Post Cold Front”…. You can look it up if you like.

 

Make use of "ambush points". The word ambush is used loosely, or widely here, this does not necessarily mean the bass are "lying in wait", although they can, but watching for opportunities when prey is vulnerable. Prey is vulnerable when it’s distracted (when feeding, or socially engaged with another fish), around broken cover, … . This its actually how most fish are caught. No, it’s not easy to get our lures in position at the exact time and place when a fish is vulnerable to be fooled.

 

Approach… matters: 

The actions of fishing: casting and retrieving, mostly, can put fish off. Seek times and places where this is minimized. And -and this may seem counter- bass can become habituated (used to) the presence of people just being (non-invasively) present. So, it can actually be a help to know that these bass are approachable, but, you may have to be thoughtful about how you go about "going invasive" with them.

 

Lighter tackle can help, knowing that your line, landing on, or moving, water, is the most insidious fish spooker you have. Along with the lure flying through the air under high vis conditions. Cast out away from the fish and retrieve to them. Braids land quieter, are generally less invasive, than any other line.

 

Some lures are more recognizably “not food” than others. Nondescript types and colors can be tougher to fish to discern from real food. This may be the best way to “match the hatch”. Forget photo-printed color schemes; They were pasted onto “not food” to begin with.

 

Lures that enter subtly and behave subtly may be best: jigs, tubes, drop-shot, wacky, Neko, shaky, … ditto the Mepps Aglia above: #2, #3. Also, original Rapala, 1/8oz buzzbaits, stick-worms, 6" finesse worms, ... If there is a trick, it's not alarming, or putting off, those fish first. This is your biggest challenge. Break this barrier, and the lures that can work widen considerably. "Killed" presentations can often be best, sometimes the only way -and for some individual fish in particular.

 

Conversely, something they’ve never seen before -as long as the presentation of it doesn’t alarm them- can turn a few heads your way out there. Same can even be true of a color, if those fish have lots of experience with a given color, esp fresh experience. Look around, if their are lots of red 'Traps being thrown...

 

Lastly, realize, not all individual fish are equally “vulnerable to angling”. Some can be caught repeatedly, others have been dubbed “immune to angling”.

 

Hope this helps some. You have your work cut out for you. Here’s to your wider waters opening to you soon.

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4 minutes ago, Paul Roberts said:

Heavily pressured fish -got 'em here too. We all have them, to varying degrees, nowadays. We have to learn to work around it, which can mean, knowing when bass are most vulnerable.

First, lures are NOT prey. They are mistaken for prey. This is MUCH easier to do under certain conditions, and locations, and when bass are not alarmed.

 

Best conditions: 

Namely, reduced lighting: Night, deep overcast, wind ruffled surfaces, in and around cover/shade.

 

Best circumstances: 

When bass are feeding heavily on vulnerable prey. This is not common in most waters most of the time. Tip: Choose times and locations when prey is feeding heavily, and therefore distracted.

 

Best locations: 

Identify the places where bass get fed. Not all places are equal here. The bass hang around these places. Walk and look. Find concentrations prey. This is easier in some waters than others, due to bottom layout and cover options. Dishpan-contoured waters tend to be tougher to identify spots than convoluted ones. The most challenging might be the “swimming pool” -little cover, high clarity, lots of “open water”. I have a video about this on YT, called “Bluebird Blue Post Cold Front”…. You can look it up if you like.

 

Make use of "ambush points". The word ambush is used loosely, or widely here, this does not necessarily mean the bass are "lying in wait", although they can, but watching for opportunities when prey is vulnerable. Prey is vulnerable when it’s distracted (when feeding, or socially engaged with another fish), around broken cover, … . This its actually how most fish are caught. No, it’s not easy to get our lures in position at the exact time and place when a fish is vulnerable to be fooled.

 

Approach… matters: 

The actions of fishing: casting and retrieving, mostly, can put fish off. Seek times and places where this is minimized. And -and this may seem counter- bass can become habituated (used to) the presence of people just being (non-invasively) present. So, it can actually be a help to know that these bass are approachable, but, you may have to be thoughtful about how you go about "going invasive" with them.

 

Lighter tackle can help, knowing that your line, landing on, or moving, water, is the most insidious fish spooker you have. Along with the lure flying through the air under high vis conditions. Cast out away from the fish and retrieve to them. Braids land quieter, are generally less invasive, than any other line.

 

Some lures are more recognizably “not food” than others. Nondescript types and colors can be tougher to fish to discern from real food. This may be the best way to “match the hatch”. Forget photo-printed color schemes; They were pasted onto “not food” to begin with.

 

Lures that enter subtly and behave subtly may be best: jigs, tubes, drop-shot, wacky, Neko, shaky, … ditto the Mepps Aglia above: #2, #3. Also, original Rapala, 1/8oz buzzbaits, stick-worms, 6" finesse worms, ... If there is a trick, it's not alarming, or putting off, those fish first. This is your biggest challenge. Break this barrier, and the lures that can work widen considerably. "Killed" presentations can often be best, sometimes the only way -and for some individual fish in particular.

 

Conversely, something they’ve never seen before -as long as the presentation of it doesn’t alarm them- can turn a few heads your way out there. Same can even be true of a color, if those fish have lots of experience with a given color, esp fresh experience. Look around, if their are lots of red 'Traps being thrown...

 

Lastly, realize, not all individual fish are equally “vulnerable to angling”. Some can be caught repeatedly, others have been dubbed “immune to angling”.

 

Hope this helps some. You have your work cut out for you. Here’s to your wider waters opening to you soon.

 Nicely Done Paul.

Nailed It !

:smiley:

A-Jay 

 

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Mama said there'd be days like this. Sometimes you have to console yourself with the fact that you were able to pull 10 Bass out of that place.

 

Hard to add anything to the well thought out posts above, but I'll try.

 

Scent. Add a scent to your baits, like Megastrike. I have been saved from a skunk on many a day by adding some of that stuff to a ned or a dropshot bait.

 

 

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10 hours ago, Glaucus said:

On a good day you can see dozens roaming.

 

...consistently seeing bass roaming. 

 

Sometimes you can see them actually turn their head away at your lure.

 

In ponds, I almost never catch the bass I can see.

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3 minutes ago, MIbassyaker said:

 

In ponds, I almost never catch the bass I can see.

This is so true.

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1 hour ago, MIbassyaker said:

 

In ponds, I almost never catch the bass I can see.

I hear you. If one didn't know better, fishing to fish you can see could be enough to send you home, and pitching your tackle in the dumpster on your way out. Sight-fishing can be darn tough. But, those that we do catch, can tell us a lot about what how fish react to.. fishing. And, give us an idea of what our lures should probably be doing, even when we don't know there are fish hovering over, or even anywhere near, our bait. This is the really scary part. :surprised:

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I don't know, I catch a lot of pond bass that I can see.

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Pond bass know every inch of the environment and are aware of everything near shore, they live there. Most of the food source for pond bass is located neat the shoreline, that is where they hunt and cruise the parimeter or stay near high percentage ambush sites.

Timing is more important then lure selection IMO. If you see the bass they know you are there, step back and stop moving then wait a few minutes before casting, the bass aren't going anywhere. It's better to observe the bass watching them hunt prey to learn what they are looking for. Now you know where they located and what lure to use.

Low light periods are helpful.

Tom

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17 minutes ago, J Francho said:

I don't know, I catch a lot of pond bass that I can see.

Same here. Must be a New York pond thing. Bass here do the, "You lookin' at me?" thing then smash your lure in the face. :wink7:

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24 minutes ago, J Francho said:

I don't know, I catch a lot of pond bass that I can see.

Zing!

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You also need to factor in the spawn cycle. Pre spawner females transitioning to egg laying cruise the bank areas looking for potential bed site and male bass, these female bass are not hunting prey and ignor lures.

Tom

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1 hour ago, J Francho said:

I don't know, I catch a lot of pond bass that I can see.

I do too. (Kinda pulled my zing, there.) And, I certainly know what he's talking about.

51 minutes ago, WRB said:

Pond bass know every inch of the environment and are aware of everything near shore, they live there. Most of the food source for pond bass is located neat the shoreline, that is where they hunt and cruise the parimeter or stay near high percentage ambush sites.

Timing is more important then lure selection IMO. If you see the bass they know you are there, step back and stop moving then wait a few minutes before casting, the bass aren't going anywhere. It's better to observe the bass watching them hunt prey to learn what they are looking for. Now you know where they located and what lure to use.

Low light periods are helpful.

Tom

Exactly.

 

In my first post I was going to add something about patience, but it's not that so much, as the ability to adjust your expectations. (Except for John :tongue23: )

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37 minutes ago, Paul Roberts said:

I do too. (Kinda pulled my zing, there.) And, I certainly know what he's talking about.

There's some fish you can tell aren't in the mood, others are, and I'll definitely throw at them.

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I'd go real big or real small and see what happens. I'd try an 8" or 9" swimbait or a slider worm and maybe a bitsy bug.

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Maybe go for a bit of a drive and try somewhere else, unless there isn’t a “somewhere else”. I guess I’m a bit spoiled in that there are literally hundreds of small to medium sized lakes within a half hour drive of me, and that doesn’t include the big lakes. Seriously though, maybe it’s time for a change of scenery for a little while. 

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I primarily fish ponds. For me wind is the key to success. Something about a ruffled surface that makes the difference between a 20-30 fish session and nothing but a few dinks. Others may have different experiences but that's how it seems to work for me, at least during "normal" fishing season. Less wind doesn't seem to slow my winter bite plus it makes things much more tolerable.

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Good info all. 

 

Found the ticket. I went through the stuff I already have searching for something I haven't tried. I found 3" PowerBait paddle tail swimbaits in Fire Tiger. I bought them a couple years ago because I have a friend who swears by them for river smallmouth. I wasn't a fan so I put them up and forgot about them.

 

Well these fish loved them. I went out for about 40 minutes before dark and caught 6. 3 more came off. I left when the bats came out and I could no longer see where my bait was landing in the water.

 

These baits catch fish apparently but they're not good quality. The hooks start ripping out of the back of the bait after 1 fish. The hooks also aren't very sharp hence 3 that came off. I'm going to get some good quality Fire Tiger/Bluegill-ish 3" paddle tail swimbaits to use (Bluegill and minnows is the forage along with frogs).

 

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I second the live bait. Minnows, nightcrawlers, or even find some grasshoppers and toss them out there.

 

I bank fish ponds (we call them lagoons down here) exclusively and the one thing that I have noticed is that fishing in them is extremely sensitive to weather and environmental conditions. In my area if the weather consitions are variable the bass just lock themselves down.

 

I live in an area near the ocean where the weather changes all of the time. We get pop up storms all summer long that cool the lagoons and in the spring we get cloudy and cool one day, warm and sunny the next, then back to cloudy and cool. What I have found is the fishing is better on the third or fourth day of consistent weather. That can make it tough, but when it happens the fishing is great.

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1 hour ago, Way north bass guy said:

Maybe go for a bit of a drive and try somewhere else, unless there isn’t a “somewhere else”. I guess I’m a bit spoiled in that there are literally hundreds of small to medium sized lakes within a half hour drive of me, and that doesn’t include the big lakes. Seriously though, maybe it’s time for a change of scenery for a little while. 

All the ponds around here are private. I won't bank fish a lake, and I won't put a kayak in one until it gets warmer. The rivers are flooded so that's a no go too. I'm stuck here for a couple more weeks at least. But I figured something out today. A more subtle moving bait, downsized.

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The lake closest to my house happens to be decent bass lake. I've caught a few legit donks there as have a few of my friends. A really good session here would be 3-5b fish. That doesn't happen often, but it happens. However, it never happens during the day for me or the people in my circle, and I know all the hard cores that fish this place. One way or another, some of us are fishing it nearly every day. What everyone knows is that this place is a night bite lake. It simply turns on near dark. Before I figured this out, I was convinced that the bass were beamed to another planet. I didn't catch or even see anyone catch a bass between August of '17 through April of '18, but I always fished there during the day. BTW, no boats are allowed here, just bank fishing and wading which makes things tougher. I've caught occasionally doing early morning wades, but nothing like at night. They simply feed there aggressively when the sun goes down. This is the complete opposite of my son in law's home lake where we hammer them during the day. So try working the place early evening into dark and see what happens. Just a tip; we're cleaning up with the 1/2 oz Megabass Dark Sleeper in dark shad. A small 3" bait that rides the bottom and just kills 'em. 

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