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Continue to search for active bass vs slowing down -when?


clemsondds

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Ok, so went out yesterday and blanked. I fished for just a few hours on a small lake I had never been on and just couldn't buy a bite.  I found out later that overnight they had gotten a downpour of rain and had risen the lake quite a bit.   So maybe that had something to do with it...who knows.  Clarity was about 12" and water temp was 57-59 and wind was 2-4mph.   Anyway, my plan was to just keep covering water and "find the active bass."  Well, I threw chatterbait, lipless, squarebill, balsa flat side, spinnerbait, z1, and a 110...and got nothing.  I covered main points, channel swing points, flats, secondary points, backs of a cove with deep water close by, and shallow humps.  I could see them on livescope but they were mostly suspended. I did try a few brushpiles as well.  So my question is, when do you keep a moving bait in your hand and keep searching for those active bass, and when do you realize it's going to be "that kind of a day" and switch to slower presentation techniques?   I feel like I covered most of the lake and just never found them, and so when trying to process what happened...I'm wondering if it was something with my technique, or maybe it was that I just needed to switch to finesse.  What are your thoughts? 

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It has been my experience that when faced with rising water, whether tidal or runoff to fish shallow close to bank with a plastic around cover. 

  • Rising water levels will move bass shallower on cover or structure.
  • In grass, bass will move to the inside edges and spread out more.
  • Bushes, Laydowns fish will move to the center of the bush or laydown.
  • Docks, bass will move to the walkways and where dock connects to bank.
  • Points/drops, fish will move up the point or off the drop, often scattering on nearby flat.
  • Creeks, bass will move to the thickest bank related cover they can find.
  • Rocks, fish will become more bottom oriented and move progressively shallower as the water level rises.

Just my 2 cents 

R/Ski

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How does one determine if bass are inactive?

 

Just because you don't get bit doesn't prove anything other than you were doing the wrong things at the wrong time & in the wrong place.

 

My personal opinion, high water scatters the bass.

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52 minutes ago, Catt said:

How does one determine if bass are inactive?

 

Just because you don't get bit doesn't prove anything other than you were doing the wrong things at the wrong time & in the wrong place.

 

My personal opinion, high water scatters the bass.


Ditto

 

 

Suspended bass are usually inactive, neutral bass which can be the toughest to bite anything. 
Couple that with rising water which spreads them out more, and you have a tough day. 

 

There is no hard and fast rule of when to do anything.
In cases like you describe it’s better to keep moving but at a slower pace and work an area more thoroughly rotating through your box. 
 

But that’s me. 

 

 

 

 

Mike

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1 hour ago, Catt said:

 

Just because you don't get bit doesn't prove anything other than you were doing the wrong things at the wrong time & in the wrong place.

 

☝️☝️☝️

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I had very similar experience Friday. Weather was crazy, windy and rain one minute, bluebird skies and calm the next. 12-18" visibility, rising water. My buddy caught 2 on the end of laydowns on spinnerbaits but that was over 8 hours. I got skunked. We hit every laydown on the lake, I was back of boat and threw the box at them. Missed 1 on a wacky, otherwise nothing. Just felt like the bite was off. 

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1 hour ago, Catt said:

How does one determine if bass are inactive?

 

Just because you don't get bit doesn't prove anything other than you were doing the wrong things at the wrong time & in the wrong place.

 

My personal opinion, high water scatters the bass.

So how would you have handled that day of fishing? My point was, if you aren’t getting bit, do you slow down or keep moving with reaction baits?  I have no doubt that better fisherman could have gotten a bit that day, and I’m just trying to learn how. Getting skunked is no Bueno.

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I always start a little faster than the water temperture might call for. I'll hit 5 or 6 places, throwing multiple different moving baits and then start slowing down until they tell me something. I never want to be dragging a worm/jig, when they'll hit a chatterbait, spinnerbait, or topwater. I fished a tournament years ago and after dragging jigs for hours in the 50 degree water with 4 - 6" visibilty, we won it in the last couple hours throwing black buzzbaits. 

 

 

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1 hour ago, Mike L said:


Ditto

 

 

Suspended bass are usually inactive, neutral bass which can be the toughest to bite anything. 
Couple that with rising water which spreads them out more, and you have a tough day. 

 

There is no hard and fast rule of when to do anything.
In cases like you describe it’s better to keep moving but at a slower pace and work an area more thoroughly rotating through your box. 
 

But that’s me. 

 

 

 

 

Mike

 

@clemsondds ☝️

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If there was a tourney on the lake that day, there’s a good chance that of the top finishers, one guy pounded the same 100 yd stretch of bank all day, going back and forth, and the other guy covered tons of water and got 5 bites on 4 different baits, all from different areas scattered one here and one there - lol.

 

Typically, I’ve always been in the latter camp; cover tons of water and find the few active bass. However, this is a game of percentages. If I start out the day this way and go an hour or two without a bite, covering a good bit of water, it becomes obvious that there may simply not be enough active fish to make this strategy work.
 

At that point you have to make a decision; either keep covering water and hope you get lucky and run into one small area with a few active fish, or decide to slow way down and fish extra thorough through just a couple key high percentage areas. That’s an individual choice, and you know ‘you’ best. But I’d likely slow down at that point and beat the crap out of a couple high confidence spots, at least for the next couple hours to see if my luck changed.

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Thank you all! Very good answers! Here’s another question. When I was covering water and hitting high value areas, I think I spent too much time trying different baits.  I’ve noticed several anglers mention that you spend 5 min or so at each place and then move on. So my question is, do you try multiple baits when looking for these active fish or do you stick to just one or two?  I think I might have been trying too many baits at these areas which caused me to be at these spots for 20+ min. 

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16 minutes ago, clemsondds said:

I think I spent too much time trying different baits

 

If you're thinking that you probably are!

 

I will pull my hat brim down over my sunglasses, pick up my worm rod, put the trolling motor on medium, & start flipping, pitching, & casting at everything I see in the water.

 

My confidence is in a Texas Rig, yours maybe a spinnerbait, squarebill, or something else. 

 

This is the time ya wanna fish your strengths!

 

Keep in mind sometimes ya just get skunked!!

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I will use one bait, but I might spend 10 - 15 min. fishing a target from different angles.  I'll change baits after 2 or 3 spots if I'm not getting any bites. 

 

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4 hours ago, Catt said:

How does one determine if bass are inactive?

 

Just because you don't get bit doesn't prove anything other than you were doing the wrong things at the wrong time & in the wrong place.

 

My personal opinion, high water scatters the bass.

 

 

This is about the long and short of it.

 

Here's my overly wordy abstract probably unhelpful two cents on this age old bass fishing conundrum:

 

Bass fishing is a lot like playing the lottery.

 

Every cast is a ticket.

 

Would you keep playing the same lottery number over and over and over at the gas station?

 

No you buy another lottery ticket to increase your chances of securing a winning number.

 

Basically bass fishing is the same.

 

Different baits, locations, speeds, depths etc etc etc is like buying another lottery ticket before you cash out for the day on the lake:

 

Thing is, unlike gambling at a gas station, it's free to play around with retrieve and location and depth and speed and bait type and all that stuff so I suggest, on days where they aren't biting' the usual stuff in the usual spots:

 

Buy lots of tickets!

 

Think outside the box and try lots of different things....sometimes in the same cast (like going slow....then fast....then stopping....then fast....etc all in one retrieve)

 

It can feel silly at first, but days where I just play the numbers and just move and try lots of stuff I can usually figure out a bite happening somewhere on something.

 

Let the bass and the conditions and time of year guide you but not cloud your vision.  Stay open minded!

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Just a couple of things . If the water has risen recently I sometimes catch bass in the same places before it rose . If I was catching them at 5 foot and it rises 3 foot I find bass   8 foot at times.     I like to fish fast too but if a good piece of cover is happened on  I'm not leaving it until it is fished with a slower more methodical presentation .

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2 hours ago, Catt said:

Slowing down is not about how fast your retrieval rate is. 


Exactly!

If everyone really understood that, there’d be a lot less questions asked!

 

 

 

 

Mike

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13 hours ago, Catt said:

Slowing down is not about how fast your retrieval rate is. 

 

 

11 hours ago, Mike L said:


Exactly!

If everyone really understood that, there’d be a lot less questions asked!

 

 

 

 

Mike

Can you maybe expound on that a little?  I'm sure I know what you mean by that, but I would love to hear more about it. Thanks

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4 hours ago, clemsondds said:

 

 

Can you maybe expound on that a little?  I'm sure I know what you mean by that, but I would love to hear more about it. Thanks

 

 

Fish every 2 ft of a laydown instead of left right and front and then move on.  Parallel a bank 1 ft, then 3 ft, then 5 ft, then 10 ft instead of one cast and retrieve 5 ft from the bank etc.

 

I think of slowing down as simply being more deliberately methodical and systematic in my covering an area, where as fishing fast I may make one high % cast in an area and then move if I don't get bit.

 

It's not really what speed I move the bait necessarily although some days (usually slick calm super hot days) dead sticking can get bit if there are fish around.

 

I try to always vary my retrieve regardless of how fast I'm fishing.

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I'll admit I get impatient at times.  It's kinda funny, you won't meet a more patient person.....but when I'm fishing I prefer moving baits.   I would be willing to bet that my catch to cast rate is better on a Devils Horse, T-rig or shakey head than moving baits though.   Like Pat, when possible I work lay downs from the side.  Docks too.  I rarely make a cast "toward" the bank.   I like to fish water with stumps.  I'll try to line up with a row of stumps to make a cast, regardless of bait or retrieve.  I'll admit, in most cases, unless I know there's more cover, or have seen active fish on sonar I can't make myself retrieve a slow working bait all the way back to the boat.   Occasionally I've had one hit a Devils Horse after I gave up twitching, and was just reeling it in.  It looks similar to a buzz bait while reeling.   

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9 hours ago, clemsondds said:

Can you maybe expound on that a little?

 

First learn your body of water!

 

When I go to Toledo Bend I don't have waste time looking for structure, I know where it is. I just have to fish it efficiently!

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On 3/5/2023 at 12:32 AM, clemsondds said:

 What are your thoughts? 

 

Thought #1: Not surprised that fishing was slow to non existent the day following a crazy windy front like we had, particularly this time of year.

Thought #2: "Finding out" that it rained heavily the day after it did is a day and a half too late.

Thought #3: The fishing was probably good prior to that front, seeing how mild it's been, and should be again until the cool down on the way in a few days.

 

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18 hours ago, Pat Brown said:

 

 

Fish every 2 ft of a laydown instead of left right and front and then move on.  Parallel a bank 1 ft, then 3 ft, then 5 ft, then 10 ft instead of one cast and retrieve 5 ft from the bank etc.

 

I think of slowing down as simply being more deliberately methodical and systematic in my covering an area, where as fishing fast I may make one high % cast in an area and then move if I don't get bit.

 

It's not really what speed I move the bait necessarily although some days (usually slick calm super hot days) dead sticking can get bit if there are fish around.

 

I try to always vary my retrieve regardless of how fast I'm fishing.

Great explanation! Thank you

 

On 3/5/2023 at 10:08 AM, Catt said:

 

If you're thinking that you probably are!

 

I will pull my hat brim down over my sunglasses, pick up my worm rod, put the trolling motor on medium, & start flipping, pitching, & casting at everything I see in the water.

 

My confidence is in a Texas Rig, yours maybe a spinnerbait, squarebill, or something else. 

 

This is the time ya wanna fish your strengths!

 

Keep in mind sometimes ya just get skunked!!

Yeh, looking back on it...that's the one bait (texas rig worm) that I didn't throw, that I probably should have.  I need to get better at the TR...it's produced for me in the past...I guess I just got sucked into a jig obsession.

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All good examples that we all can take something from. 
 

Have a plan

Be ready to Improvise when warranted, understand that there will be situations that you’ll have to Overcome that you didn’t expect and most importantly of all, have your mind right to Adapt to changing conditions before and after you get to where you’re going. 
 

On Okeechobee I know all the where’s how’s and when’s but sometimes none of that means anything.  
 

 

 

 

 

Mike

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