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sirwoogie

What the fish are eating

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Been back in the swing of things for the past few years. One piece of advice I always hear is "target the fish with what they are eating."

To me, this seems to be the hardest one to follow. I don't get to mired down in colors and tackle choices  much. I have the normal assortment (watermelon/green pumpkin/black&blue and flakes) of colors and do senko, jig, jerk, and frog type fishing. In an 8 hour period on the lake I like to fish I can haul out sometimes 8-10 bass (mainly LMB), most never over 1.5  lbs but have the occasional 4 lb. I see bluegill/pumkinseed all around. See very little perch and very little minnow. I haven't seen a single crawdad on the beach anywhere (skeleton or otherwise), so I'm thinking this lake doesn't support. Water is clear but bottom is vegi/mukry and dark (visibility stops about 6ft down lake goes to 30 in some spots).


Back to my point...

 

Beyond cutting them open or lucky enough to see a meal sticking out of them, what are the best ways to determine what is the meal choice of bass in the lake? I'm inferring much of my hookup with "crawdad colors and presentations" are simply because of action and bass wanting to crush it not because I'm mimicing something they know.

Tips and comments please.

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If the lake supports pan fish and frogs it has a crawdad population. Remember crawdads are nocturnal critters, more active after dark.

With catch & release of every bass caught today's anglers don't get the opportunity to dissect stomach content of the bass they manage to catch. When you have caught a bass that isn't going to survive keep it, clean it, examine it then eat it, they are a renewable resource. You can usually smell crawdad ordor when bass are eating them and feel the hard shells by pressing on the stomach, hard lumps are usually crawdads.

The only set of rules in fishing are those regulations set by the state. Take away information that you feel helps you and ignor what doesn't.

Tom

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46 minutes ago, sirwoogie said:

Been back in the swing of things for the past few years. One piece of advice I always hear is "target the fish with what they are eating."

To me, this seems to be the hardest one to follow. I don't get to mired down in colors and tackle choices  much. I have the normal assortment (watermelon/green pumpkin/black&blue and flakes) of colors and do senko, jig, jerk, and frog type fishing. In an 8 hour period on the lake I like to fish I can haul out sometimes 8-10 bass (mainly LMB), most never over 1.5  lbs but have the occasional 4 lb. I see bluegill/pumkinseed all around. See very little perch and very little minnow. I haven't seen a single crawdad on the beach anywhere (skeleton or otherwise), so I'm thinking this lake doesn't support. Water is clear but bottom is vegi/mukry and dark (visibility stops about 6ft down lake goes to 30 in some spots).


Back to my point...

 

Beyond cutting them open or lucky enough to see a meal sticking out of them, what are the best ways to determine what is the meal choice of bass in the lake? I'm inferring much of my hookup with "crawdad colors and presentations" are simply because of action and bass wanting to crush it not because I'm mimicing something they know.

Tips and comments please.

If there's no crawdads in your lake I would still fish craws/creatures on soft plastics and trailers, My private lake I have acess to fish has very little crawfish but I still throw my pit boss and get dinks. Now if you're trying to imitate baitfish I would go with a shallow to mid crank in what ever baitfish color. (Sexy Shad, Shiner maybe) on my lake it's stained and only shiners are the main bait fish, (We also have Perch and Sunfish) You said your lake is pretty clear so you can definitely get away with throwing sexy shad cranks and spinnerbaits, for soft plastic colors I would definitely go with Green Pumpkin or Watermelon red flake, they're sleeper colors on clear lakes. Also maybe some white paddletails on green pumpkin chatterbaits would work. 

 

 

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Bass have a large menu that include  mice , turtles , snakes , insects , birds , worms .. They might be feeding heavily on bait fish but they will still eat other things if the opportunity arises .

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I can understand the theory of "match the hatch" and when baitfish are schooling I have no doubt that it's critical to do so when trying to catch bass during a feeding frenzy.  However, my lake has no white, bullet-shaped fish that float and have little propellers on their butts, yet from 5:15 to 5:25 this morning I caught four bass on a Whopper Plopper. 

 

I try to pay attention to what is on the menu for each season, but in the end you can tempt them with almost anything...or they won't be tempted at all IMHO.  Keep in mind there are a lot of experts on here that have helped me vastly improve my skills so if their opinions differ from mine I can tell you who to put money on.  😎

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You might contact your Conservation Dept, and see if they may know what your main forage is in your lake. You don't need to match this perfectly. As has been said, bass will eat many different items.

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In my opinion, matching the bait they are eating can be over rated.

often times trying  something different can produce.

there may be certain times where they are keying in on one specific type of food, but bass can often still be caught on other baits.

One example is 10 inch worms fished deep in summer. On most the reservoirs I fish shad is the key forage. 

Early and late in the day shad imitating baits work well.

Later in the day dragging big worms across deeper structure,just above the thermocline, can produce big fish.

(Deep is relative to where you fish. On most Eastern Kansas lowland reservoirs the thermocline is less than 20 feet.)

I don't know of any deep water forage, in the lakes I fish,that resemble s a monster worm. Personally I think it just looks like a big easy meal.  

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Bluegill swimbait might help improve you avg. weight but may reduce your numbers. I can assure you they're eating them.

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Pros will feel the bass' stomach to determine what they are eating.

 

Crunchy or hard material are crawfish.

 

Soft material are baitfish.

 

It is your responsibility to know what forage is in your body of water and then add the stomach feel to your formula to determine what they are eating. 

 

If you are fishing a tournament, the bass have a habit of spitting up in the live well what they were feeding on when you landed them.  We find all types of crawfish and bait fish in the well after weigh-ins. If you have a well in your boat place your catches in the well to see if they spit up anything.

 

Once they do and you see it you can let them go.

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One of my biggest bass came on a trout swimbait from a body of water that does not have trout. I've opened up a few fish I caught schooling and their bellies were stuffed with little 2 inch minnows. I was using a much bigger 4 inch swimbait. I think if you find fish during feeding windows a well presented bait that vaguely resembles something from the forage base should get bit. It doesn't necessarily have to be exactly what they are keyed on at the moment.

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