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TheRodFather

Whats your procedure for patterning a new lake

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Like the title states, how do you pattern the fish when you don't "know" where they are.  As in a new lake, or a long time since you got out fishing?  Is there a procedure you follow when you get the boat in the water, a "standard operating procedure" if you will.  Meaning, do you account for seasonal patterns, then look on maps and hit the spots where they "should" be, what if they aren't where the should be?  Troll around points and such graphing? Start shallow, and go deep? Or do you do something else?

 

As someone who came from a (very) shallow smallmouth fishery, I looked for current breaks, eddies, and things like that.  Now that I am in LMB country, I am struggling to learn how to find the fish and "pattern" them.  The only time I was able to put together what I would call a pattern, was a couple weeks ago I was catching white bass in about 10ft of water on a point.  So I ran to another point and was able to replicate the same thing in 10ft again.

 

There are several good lakes very near to me (MLF was here on Jordan, Falls, and Harris, all within 20 min of my place), so I know there is good fishing here.  I have been studying my maps, trying to learn my electronics, but still haven't really felt like I put any kind of "pattern" together.  I have limited myself to Harris, which is only 4100 acres, in the hope that I can work a smaller body of water so as not to totally overwhelm myself.  I try to throw baits that cover water, and don't linger too long in areas where I am not getting bites.  But to be honest, I'm not getting any LM bites........

 

I run into schools of white bass frequently, and catching a couple dozen of them distracts me for too long.  I need to get serious about catching some pigs!  Harris had 40 plus pound bags on consecutive days a couple years ago, I know they are here.

 

Teach me BR, teach me the ways.......

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  I'll start this one off my saying that, while I always consider the seasonal pattern for the bass, looking for 'the pattern' happens for me well after several other things, if it happens at all.    My mind set revolves around the idea that excluding the spawn - it's safety & food that usually determine where & when I might have the best opportunity to find active fish.  So knowing what the bass might be looking to eat, where it may be located seasonally, as well as what the basses 'safe zone' preference may be (often predicated on water clarity, temp, wind direction & speed, and current, if any) can be helpful.

   So perhaps for a starting point - where and what's The Bait ?  

 You could start there.  That works - find the bait - bass may not be too far away. 

  In many LMB post spawn scenarios, bluegill spawn right after the LMB - makes a nice very local food source for them.  Perhaps look for panfish beds if the bass have just spawned.  Either way, I'm betting there's are least some fish shallow(er).  BTW - if I was catching white bass now, unless that's the target species, I'd move shallower ASAP.

Good Luck

A-Jay

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There’s always largemouths shallow. Somewhere. Is there a 40 pound bag shallow at this time? Eh, questionable, leaning towards no. 

Listen, I got beat so bad out the back of the boat last weekend I swam home. On what? A 4 inch worm split shot rig...what did I have to do the next day? Slow way down. Broke the lake up in pieces. Play dumb. Don’t look at all those fancy baits you have. Find a high percentage area and cast until you get a bite. Even if the compass on Navionics says the lake is 27 miles long. Find 1 mile of it and fish the hell out of it. Take that data and apply to the next mile. 

Good luck!

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I consider the time of year, weather, water clarity, a few other factors, then I'll often look for something that looks similar to what I'd fish on my home bodies of water under those same conditions. 

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Like A-Jay, I don't look for a pattern, at least what my definition of a pattern is. After I've caught a few fish, I can sometimes take an educated guess as to location on a given piece of structure/cover and what technique, angle and presentation should work. That, BTW, is what I consider a pattern (although I believe you're inquiring about where to look on a given body of water). On the rare occasions that one does present itself, it rarely lasts for the entire outing and I need to recognize and adapt to the reason it doesn't.

On a new body of water, I end up spending a lot of time and effort just in finding areas that hold fish, or the ones the fish may use in their movements.

Seasonal movements, types of structure and cover, the presence or lack of current, along with some idea of the what  the main forage is and what/where it is likely to be, are all things I consider prior to hitting the water. Every lake is different, but bass, as said, are driven by two things once the spawn is over; security and food. That's where I begin.

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I start at home  😉

 

I wanna know where the river/creek channels are in relation to the shoreline. 

 

Next I wanna know what is the food source available. Right now we're well into the Bluegill spawn, that tells me where to look on the map.

 

Finally I wanna know what types of cover I'll be facing. 

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I always start in the marina area while launching my boat to determine what seasonal period it is for the bass*, what the water temps are, what the water clarity is and how deep the bait and bass are using my eyes, sonar and knowledge. 

The majority of the bass population will be around their food source.

You know the lakes you are fishing and that helps to eliminate several factors. 

What can't be predicted is the how active the bass are and when, you can predict general locations based on seasonal periods. What depth to start depends on what the primary prey is or how deep the bait fish and bass are.

Tom

* see Cosmic Clock and Bass Calendar.

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I always start with electronics and look for points and creeks and eliminate water.  Its the easiest way to start on a new lake with no information.  

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There is shad in the lake, don't know if it is primary, but it seems to be.  I have caught crappie, white bass, catfish, and a couple small largemouth in open water.  All on a 1/4oz chrome, blue or black back red eye shad.  There are two public fishing docks on this lake, there is a rip rap bridge on one of the creek arms.  Some electric line pilings, some humps, and one very nice ledge that has boats parked on it all the time.  The western banks of most of the lake arms have shallow transitions to the creek channels, and the eastern sides are pretty steep to deep water, but no flats really.

 

Here is a navionics web app shot of the lake:https://webapp.navionics.com/#boating@10&key=}bixEvrz`N

 

 

I have gotten some good sized largemouth bites, all were shallow in coves, pitching close to the reeds, all on the western banks.  One was on a spook in the morning, two on a swim jig in shad color with a keitech impact trailor, one on a texas rigged creature bait.  I have had some equipment, and operator errors that caused none of these bites to get to the boat (my fault completely, drag too loose, not setting hook well enough, and a Curado that completely locked up for some reason and wouldn't crank)

 

I have been forcing myself to focus on learning to fish deep for about 4 weekends, I should mention that.  I'm sure I could beat the banks and get a bite or few.

 

I wonder if I should be learning the life cycle of shad, and the bass are a byproduct?  I'm looking to learn deep fishing, I failed to mention that, I apologize.

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When you read about "Shad" being a primary prey for LMB it's usually Threadfin Shad because LMB can eat adult size Threadfin year around. PA has 2 ocean run Shad that spawn in rivers, American and Hickory Shad. Both can be too large for LMB prey as adults only young of the year Amiercan are small enough to be a prey source. Gizzard Shad are also native to PA and again grow too large as adults for LMB. All Shad are pelagic open water fish that feed on plankton or tiny aquatic life. Threadfin feed on phyto plankton a vegetable in lieu of animal life. 

Without studing what types of prey the lakes you fish and not living in PA it's difficult to know off hand what your predominate prey sources are. As Catt clearly pointed out study the lakes, prey types  are a big part of that knowledge. 

You can have shallow water in the middle of a lake called humps, reefs or underwater islands depending on regional terms and good structure for bass if a prey source is availble.

You might want to hire a guide to help reduce the learning curve time and instruct you on some basics rigging, sonar use and structure elements where you fish.

Tom

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18 minutes ago, WRB said:

When you read about "Shad" being a primary prey for LMB it's usually Threadfin Shad because LMB can eat adult size Threadfin year around. PA has 2 ocean run Shad that spawn in rivers, American and Hickory Shad. Both can be too large for LMB prey as adults only young of the year Amiercan are small enough to be a prey source. Gizzard Shad are also native to PA and again grow too large as adults for LMB. All Shad are pelagic open water fish that feed on plankton or tiny aquatic life. Threadfin feed on phyto plankton a vegetable in lieu of animal life. 

Without studing what types of prey the lakes you fish and not living in PA it's difficult to know off hand what your predominate prey sources are. As Catt clearly pointed out study the lakes, prey types  are a big part of that knowledge. 

You can have shallow water in the middle of a lake called humps, reefs or underwater islands depending on regional terms and good structure for bass if a prey source is availble.

You might want to hire a guide to help reduce the learning curve time and instruct you on some basics rigging, sonar use and structure elements where you fish.

Tom

 

All great info, thank you.  I need to change my profile, as I am now in central North Carolina :)

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On 6/4/2019 at 11:15 PM, A-Jay said:

  I'll start this one off my saying that, while I always consider the seasonal pattern for the bass, looking for 'the pattern' happens for me well after several other things, if it happens at all.    My mind set revolves around the idea that excluding the spawn - it's safety & food that usually determine where & when I might have the best opportunity to find active fish.  So knowing what the bass might be looking to eat, where it may be located seasonally, as well as what the basses 'safe zone' preference may be (often predicated on water clarity, temp, wind direction & speed, and current, if any) can be helpful.

   So perhaps for a starting point - where and what's The Bait ?  

 You could start there.  That works - find the bait - bass may not be too far away. 

  In many LMB post spawn scenarios, bluegill spawn right after the LMB - makes a nice very local food source for them.  Perhaps look for panfish beds if the bass have just spawned.  Either way, I'm betting there's are least some fish shallow(er).  BTW - if I was catching white bass now, unless that's the target species, I'd move shallower ASAP.

Good Luck

A-Jay

 

So, a couple things here.  The water clarity is terrible, maybe a foot.  So I can't really see any beds.  I have seen a couple males (presumably) cruising the reed lines on the shore (months ago), but for the most part, I can't see much of anything.

 

The statement you make about the white bass, what causes you to say that?  Purely a learning op for me, what is that telling you when I'm catching the white bass that would cause you to go shallow when for my target LMB.  Does catching the white bass give you a clue to where the LM are?

On 6/5/2019 at 10:36 AM, Catt said:

I start at home  😉

 

I wanna know where the river/creek channels are in relation to the shoreline. 

 

Next I wanna know what is the food source available. Right now we're well into the Bluegill spawn, that tells me where to look on the map.

 

Finally I wanna know what types of cover I'll be facing. 

 

Ok, what exactly is desirable in your eyes?  Flats with quick access to deep water?  long tapering points where creek channels bend in close?

 

Bluegill spawn means LM should be hanging close by looking for an easy meal, yes?

 

As far as cover, nearly the whole shoreline is reeds.  Still exploring the lake for things like downed trees, etc.  Only one dock that I know of.

 

 

Last time I was out, I could see a thermocline set up in about 12 to 15 feet.  So I changed my map shading and only fished the areas above the cline.

 

But still skunked.

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1 hour ago, TheRodFather said:

 

Ok, what exactly is desirable in your eyes?  Flats with quick access to deep water?  long tapering points where creek channels bend in close?

 

Bluegill spawn means LM should be hanging close by looking for an easy meal, yes?

 

As far as cover, nearly the whole shoreline is reeds.  Still exploring the lake for things like downed trees, etc.  Only one dock that I know of.

 

 

Last time I was out, I could see a thermocline set up in about 12 to 15 feet.  So I changed my map shading and only fished the areas above the cline.

 

But still skunked.

 

According to your map there's plenty of points to look at.

 

It also shows a lot of submergent vegetation.

 

 

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On ‎6‎/‎4‎/‎2019 at 10:15 PM, A-Jay said:

So knowing what the bass might be looking to eat, where it may be located seasonally, as well as what the basses 'safe zone' preference may be (often predicated on water clarity, temp, wind direction & speed, and current, if any) can be helpful.

X2

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17 hours ago, Catt said:

 

According to your map there's plenty of points to look at.

 

It also shows a lot of submergent vegetation.

 

 

 

I will explore the edges of the vegetation tomorrow.  I have been working points and flipping shallow stuff for the last couple of weeks.

 

Last weekend I caught two dinks, but they were in open water, so that's something.  One on a chrome red eye shad, and the other on a dropshot.

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1 hour ago, TheRodFather said:

 

I will explore the edges of the vegetation tomorrow.  I have been working points and flipping shallow stuff for the last couple of weeks.

 

Last weekend I caught two dinks, but they were in open water, so that's something.  One on a chrome red eye shad, and the other on a dropshot.

 

When trying to "pattern" new water & I catch a fish & before i leave the area I graph where the fish came from.

 

Define "open water"?

 

If they aint biting shallow, move deeper.

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48 minutes ago, Catt said:

 

When trying to "pattern" new water & I catch a fish & before i leave the area I graph where the fish came from.

 

Define "open water"?

 

If they aint biting shallow, move deeper.

 

Open meaning I'm giving the hairy eyeball to the pleasure boaters when they fly by me :).  

 

Those two dinks were about 100 yards off the bank in 10ft of water, on a very long point.  Like I mentioned, there is a thermocline set up and there is no life below it that I could see, verified on several areas of the lake.

 

So I ruled out everything deeper than 15ft with my depth shading.  Should I be looking below the thermocline?

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10 hours ago, TheRodFather said:

Those two dinks were about 100 yards off the bank in 10ft of water, on a very long point.

 

Those two bass were trying to tell you something!

 

Ya got 3 clues:

Long point; which this lake has a lot of.

10' of water; well above your thermocline.

100 yds off the bank; for every bass you catch on the bank there's 5 behind you waiting to be caught.

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Ok, so I just got back.  I caught two 2-3lbers today, both on a drop shot with trick worm, both on a point in about 10 foot of water.  Different points though.  Both of the bites felt like a bluegill bite, tick tick tick, but I waited a couple seconds and then reeled into a light hook set.  One of them I lost at the boat, stupid mistake, I should have used a net.

 

The pleasure boaters were getting bad, and it was getting stupid hot.

 

Thanks for all the pointers guys!  It felt good to be the guy that was catching.  There were boats on nearly every point on the lake, lol.

 

I think I am going to start going to Jordan lake from now on.  I have some confidence in a bait, and my ability to break down the water, Jordan is much bigger, and hopefully there is less pressure on the fish.

 

Thanks again guys!

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