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Pond Observations


Blue Raider Bob
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     The behavior I witness may be of some help to my fellow anglers. Worked on the farm all weekend and had lots of opportunities to observe the pond fish. Water is extremely clear due to cold water plankton die off ( I'm assuming). Pond size is .66 acre with 8' at deepest point.

     Early morning when the water is at it's coldest the Bass are laying dormant 20 to thirty feet from the bank. Later in the morning they become more active but are very skittish when approached. They are gently cruising the bank in packs from ten to fifteen feet away but will scatter slowly when they see me. By mid afternoon the small to medium bass (up to 2-1/2 lb.) have lost all fear and follow me around the pond from 5 to fifteen feet out. No more, no less. Whenever I stop walking they approach the bank facing me and stay in position until I move off again at which time they continue to follow. The larger Bass are sometimes seen but do not share the aggressiveness  of their smaller kin. They stay at the limit of my sight and stay wary but do not retreat to the deepest water available.

     The pond has an abundance of Bluegill in several different age classes but at this time of year the Bluegill are the only forage and are visible all over the pond, even in company of Bass.

     So many conclusions can be created but it seems the primeval urge to feed is so much stronger in the young ones, and the older/larger fish can be much more selective and careful about their feeding opportunities.

Also during cold water periods, the afternoon would seem the most efficient from an anglers standpoint. I may be Captain Obvious in my conclusions but confirmation of theories beats theories unconfirmed.

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3 minutes ago, ol'crickety said:

Bob, I'd love to read more of your pond observations in the coming months and years. 

Thanks, one thing that puzzles me is the question of learned behavior vs instinct. When the Bass follow me and approach when I halt can only be explained by the purported feeding opportunity assumed. If this is learned behavior then the Bass have had occasion to feed from terrestrial forage flushed from the pond bank in the forms of frogs, and insects, and possibly aquatic forage forced from the security of the bank by animals and water birds. I cannot possible believe that this can be instinct but it continues to be a mystery to me.

     And Katie.....you are one of the the accomplished wordsmiths among us! How can I get more of your articles? I really enjoyed "This is Spartan (Wilderness Smallmouth Fishing)"! 

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We have a pond at one place I work that we teach fly casting without hooks. The bass follow us everywhere we go, especially the big ones. My buddy that used to mow around the pond said they always followed him when he was weedeating because he would scare frogs off the bank into the water. We have put on hooks and caught a bluegill and let the bass eat it , so they do also associate fly line with free bluegill 

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@Blue Raider Bob

 

Here's a story I wrote that you might like, Bob: 

 

https://www.mensjournal.com/adventure/wrong-canoe-right-stuff/

 

And here's another:

 

https://www.mensjournal.com/adventure/canoeing-the-thames/

 

All I ask is in return is an occasional dispatch about your pond. 

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1 hour ago, ol'crickety said:

@Blue Raider Bob

 

Here's a story I wrote that you might like, Bob: 

 

https://www.mensjournal.com/adventure/wrong-canoe-right-stuff/

 

And here's another:

 

https://www.mensjournal.com/adventure/canoeing-the-thames/

 

All I ask is in return is an occasional dispatch about your pond. 

I mean this as the highest praise, but you are one of the ultra-minority of women who are able to become "one of the boys".

 

I've been blessed to be friends with one other woman that was like this, we met through a gun forum, in the rowdy section of it as well.......me and hundreds of other members called her "dude", "man", etc. countless times until we realized she was a woman.    Similar to how it was when I first started posting in the Latest Catch thread.     She sadly passed about a year ago, but you guys would have gotten along famously.     

 

I only point this out because of the irony of a wonderful female writer doing articles for "Men's Journal".......that proves my point in itself 😎

 

Look forward to reading them!  

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@AlabamaSpothunter

 

I actually wrote both those articles for Canoe & Kayak magazine. I did travel writing for it, two columns, and occasional features. However, Canoe & Kayak magazine folded, as scores of other magazines have, but it was owned by Men's Journal, so Men's Journal posted some of those old Canoe & Kayak stories under the Men's Journal banner, as is their legal right.

 

So, it's not quite as ironic as you think, In many ways, I'm quite girly. I do crafts, garden, and bake. I was also a first and second grade teacher. I even write the occasional fashion article for women's magazines, but I didn't think Bob would want to read one of those.

 

However, I do love to be on the water and I think anyone who doesn't is missing the best part of this world.

 

Alex. I'm sorry your friend passed. She sounds great. I like people who range. I have a guy pal in Montana who jumps off cliffs with his hang glider and kayaks Class IV canyons in his kayak. He's also ex-Army who gardens and bakes and even sews. He has range too.

 

#theblueworldisbest

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  • 4 weeks later...

     After the ice melted off the pond last week I observed bass behavior that might be helpful to someone. As everyone is aware we had unseasonable winter weather across the country with middle Tennessee lows reaching -2 with temps below 32 for four days straight. The pond had a heavy cover of ice during this time. Fast forward to Dec. 31 and ice is gone with bright sunshine and no wind. The bass were stacked up on the northernmost cove at the very top of the water column. They were easy to see and I was easy to see for them. They were very skittish and seemed to be trying to warm in the upper layer. They were bunched with no regard to size except the very largest bass in the pond were no where to be found. Walking around the pond made it possible to spot an occasional large fish but they did not school with the adolescents. Don't know if the larger ones are better able to withstand colder temps without trying to use the suns rays (passive solar heating), or if the larger ones are just more careful. 

     This tells me to head straight for the northernmost cove in whatever lake I try and approach carefully if the sun is out. Doesn't help me at all with the bigger fish though.

     One other thing, ever wonder what becomes of turtles in the winter? The answer is nothing. They do what they always do except very slowly. I could see one under the ice moving around on the pond floor. It was moving very, very, slowly but moving just the same. I have read they can absorb very small amounts of oxygen through their skin and with the ability to slow down metabolism, they can survive long periods under the ice. Saw several on logs on the Tennessee yesterday with water temps at 46.6.

 

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I'd bet the biggest Bass were holding in the deepest pocket of the pond.  Saving that energy waiting until it warmed up enough to come shallow to feed briefly, and then return to that deep hole or pocket.  

 

Then again I know next to nothing about the Bass species even after trying to learn about them for years lol. 

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Bob, Glenn published another article. It's "The Perfect Fishing Day" and it's totally Crickety with me chirping about all the things that make me sing.

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3 minutes ago, ol'crickety said:

Bob, Glenn published another article. It's "The Perfect Fishing Day" and it's totally Crickety with me chirping about all the things that make me sing.

Where is this new article Katie, your loyal reader base demands a link! 😁

 

ETA I found it, I don't check the home page, I'm 4 days late to the party......

The Perfect Day | The Ultimate Bass Fishing Resource Guide® LLC (bassresource.com)

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Katie I enjoyed reading it so much, you have such a special gift for writing.   Each situation reads like it's own poem.     

 

I'm the same way on many of those things, but just at night verses the pre light morning.   I love night fishing as much as I like catching a big Bass or Bass fishing in general.   Being on the water, alone, in the dark is absolutely magical.   Only the real ones bother fishing in the pitchblack.  Your senses reach a whole different level of alive.   

 

Only one I can't agree on is #6, #9 is my favorite situation on the list, and #5 is the best written one.  Now you have my opinion, and I thoroughly highjacked Bob's awesome thread 😆

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On 1/3/2023 at 9:05 PM, AlabamaSpothunter said:

Where is this new article Katie, your loyal reader base demands a link! 😁

 

ETA I found it, I don't check the home page, I'm 4 days late to the party......

The Perfect Day | The Ultimate Bass Fishing Resource Guide® LLC (bassresource.com)

 

Cracking Up Lol GIF by Rodney Dangerfield

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Very disappointing observation this weekend. Went to the pond Saturday morning and found lots of scat (otters use a dedicated area for a latrine). Found the lips of what was a large LM and found another partial LM carcass close by. Found one Bluegill head and lots of scales and fins. I have blocked all access to the underside of my floating dock in an effort to discourage otters but they still visit the pond in their wanderings. They must be coming and going at night because I am not seeing them when I am home during the day. I set my Hav-a-heart box trap last night and caught a possum. I have never caught an otter in the trap but I have caught some of everything else including a feral cat, gobs of coons and possums, skunks, and even my daughters dog!  Wish I could get the otters.

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I often fish a 100 ac shallow pond near me, this year it was not uncommon to encounter up to 4 otters out doing their thing early in a.m.

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On 12/5/2022 at 2:33 PM, Blue Raider Bob said:

     The behavior I witness may be of some help to my fellow anglers. Worked on the farm all weekend and had lots of opportunities to observe the pond fish. Water is extremely clear due to cold water plankton die off ( I'm assuming). Pond size is .66 acre with 8' at deepest point.

     Early morning when the water is at it's coldest the Bass are laying dormant 20 to thirty feet from the bank. Later in the morning they become more active but are very skittish when approached. They are gently cruising the bank in packs from ten to fifteen feet away but will scatter slowly when they see me. By mid afternoon the small to medium bass (up to 2-1/2 lb.) have lost all fear and follow me around the pond from 5 to fifteen feet out. No more, no less. Whenever I stop walking they approach the bank facing me and stay in position until I move off again at which time they continue to follow. The larger Bass are sometimes seen but do not share the aggressiveness  of their smaller kin. They stay at the limit of my sight and stay wary but do not retreat to the deepest water available.

     The pond has an abundance of Bluegill in several different age classes but at this time of year the Bluegill are the only forage and are visible all over the pond, even in company of Bass.

     So many conclusions can be created but it seems the primeval urge to feed is so much stronger in the young ones, and the older/larger fish can be much more selective and careful about their feeding opportunities.

Also during cold water periods, the afternoon would seem the most efficient from an anglers standpoint. I may be Captain Obvious in my conclusions but confirmation of theories beats theories unconfirmed.

The moon follows me around...

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56 minutes ago, Blue Raider Bob said:

Very disappointing observation this weekend. Went to the pond Saturday morning and found lots of scat (otters use a dedicated area for a latrine). Found the lips of what was a large LM and found another partial LM carcass close by. Found one Bluegill head and lots of scales and fins. I have blocked all access to the underside of my floating dock in an effort to discourage otters but they still visit the pond in their wanderings. They must be coming and going at night because I am not seeing them when I am home during the day. I set my Hav-a-heart box trap last night and caught a possum. I have never caught an otter in the trap but I have caught some of everything else including a feral cat, gobs of coons and possums, skunks, and even my daughters dog!  Wish I could get the otters.

You gotta get pretty lucky to catch an otter in a cage, although it can be done. If you caught one in a havahart, the otter would destroy the trap and get out. 330 Conibear is how to catch otter, or maybe snare 

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3 hours ago, Blue Raider Bob said:

Very disappointing observation this weekend. Went to the pond Saturday morning and found lots of scat (otters use a dedicated area for a latrine). Found the lips of what was a large LM and found another partial LM carcass close by. Found one Bluegill head and lots of scales and fins. I have blocked all access to the underside of my floating dock in an effort to discourage otters but they still visit the pond in their wanderings. They must be coming and going at night because I am not seeing them when I am home during the day. I set my Hav-a-heart box trap last night and caught a possum. I have never caught an otter in the trap but I have caught some of everything else including a feral cat, gobs of coons and possums, skunks, and even my daughters dog!  Wish I could get the otters.

Dang that's terrible!   Problem with those Havaheart traps or really any trap in general is that you'll get the stupid animals before the smarter ones like Otters.   I always end up with an Opossum in them when trying to catch feral cats.  

 

In your position I might just become the supreme predator of the ecosystem one night and I'm a bleeding heart when it comes to animals.   

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