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Bass and other animals (some dumb questions)


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In the waters I fish, gulls will lead you to the white bass all summer, and put you on giant schools of shad that are loaded with suspended muskie all through the late fall.

I never saw a cormorant in OH until a half dozen or so years ago. They've become a nuisance in a short time. 

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  • Super User
2 minutes ago, T-Billy said:

I never saw a cormorant in OH until a half dozen or so years ago. They've become a nuisance in a short time. 

They used to be legal here to hunt during waterfowl season in MN. My Grandpa told me years ago he shot one and he had a Chesapeake bay retriever that would retrieve any bird in any conditions…until that cormorant. He said that dog swam out there, picked it up, spit it out, and swam back. That’s the only bird that dog refused to retrieve lol

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  • Super User

I don’t know if you fish rivers but in the smaller rivers I fish, smallmouth will often follow around carp that stir up the bottom and uncover the critters that smallies like. I’ll also never pass up any beaver lodges I see. The logs and sticks provide lots of cover for bait and bass. 

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With regards to birds.  I always look for birds actively circling waters especially on bigger bodies of water.  This is a good sign bass are pushing bait fish toward the surface, and the birds are responding.  Around where I live we have a lot of surface skimmers  racing around the surface with mouths open.  Again baitfish on the surface.  Finally I was once told by an old timer, to look in the cypress trees for Osprey Nests.  They are sloppy eaters, and rip there catch apart.  Baitfish will hang in the water under the nest, looking for scraps.  This brings in bass that pick off the baitfish.  Never pass up fishing hard around the trees with nests. 

 

One of the most amazing bird activity was a bunch of Ravens or Crows I saw working along with an actively feeding school of bass.  I saw this happen twice in the exact same area on two seperate days.  This was in a canal in the Everglades.  The schooling bass were working the canal bank that was a sharp rock  wall with a drop off straight down 10 feet deep.  The bass would work the baitfish against the wall and up to the surface, and the little fish would leap out of the water and onto  the rocks along the bank.  The black birds would fly along picking off minnows flopping along the edge.  This went on for 20 minutes, both times.  It was absolutely a learned experience especially by the birds.  Two totally unrelated creatures  working as one, for the benefit of both.  When I go back there to this location I always fish this canal, to see if it happens again.  The crow was actually ranked as the smartest animal in the animal kingdom.  Smarter then the chimp, dolphin, or elephant.  Crows have actually made friends with wolves in the wild, leading them to game and then getting scraps of food from their kills.  When I read that, I immediately thought of the crows and the schooling bass.  Nature is amazing at times!!!!!!

 

 

As for waters with high numbers of gar.  Gar can stand waters with poor quality and low O2 levels.  Waters that would stun or kill other fish.  Then gar will feast on sick and dying fish.  This often happens in the heat of Florida summers.  Everything is dying, but the Gar and gators are having a banquet.  When I see high large numbers of gar, I move off to better quality waters. 

 

These are just a few observations I have made over the years. 

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I’ve never fished birds for bass. I fish smaller lakes and ponds. Saltwater I fish birds.
The shell beds I fish are deeper so if I’m fishing summer, winter or just when ever I’m fishing deeper I’ll fish shell beds. I know otters eat bass.

Not sure the other animals like beavers and muskrats. 

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Birds are liars. I've ran to many flocks of diving gulls, just to find nothing but schools of shad with no fish in the area under them. Most memorable was at Table Rock. We rounded a bend and saw hundreds of gulls diving in the middle of the channel. I was so sure we were about to hammer them. We sat down off of plane, shad everywhere, but no fish. We casted for about 10 minutes at nothing, snagged countless shad and my buddy even almost caught a gull when it flew through his line. This is a more common experience than actually finding fish under them for me.

 

Muskrats have no impact. Bass love hiding around beaver dams. Otters are a terrible sign. I've had several run-ins with them the last couple years and it's been bad for me every time. 

 

Gar have no effect on the bass but can be a pain to fish around. They get in massive schools in a couple of the lakes I fish and like to hold in the same areas as the bass and I've actually be cut off by gar when I have a bass hooked. Their scales are so sharp if the line goes the wrong way across their body that the bass have managed to pull the line across them the right way and cut me off. 

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Thanks for all the responses.  I occasionally hook a longnose Gar but I've never gotten on to the boat.   A friend of mine says you have to let them eat on a lure for a while to get it deep enough for a good hook hold.  No thanks, I'm setting the hook when I get a bite, not later.     I've planned on shaking them off next to the boat, but they throw my lure back at me before I get to that point.   I've caught a few Bowfin,  aren't they a Gars cousin?  I'd hate to get bit by either one.   2 places, laydowns next to a rocky point, and a stumpy flat where I've regularly caught Bass became bassless after Beaver showed up.   I've been struggling with the muddy, cold water so the Beaver probably have nothing to do with it.   

 

 

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I've witnessed 2 differ other species interactions.

 

Small mouth cruising with a pod of carp.  Waiting for them to stir something up.

 

Wolf pack of large mouth following a water snake down the bank.  As it would go under a rock they would instantly nose up waiting for something to come out.  Followed them 100 yards and the only time any would look at a bait is when the snake went under a rock/log.  I really hope to stumble across something like it again in my life as it was really mesmerizing to watch. 

 

Birds are pointless outside of seeing heron pods on one body of water.  There some other signs that go into it as well but you can count on a bass bite 3-5' off the shore line when you can count 3-5 herons down 100 yds of bank.

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First, if the birds are eating, then the bass usually are too.  So if I see birds diving, I'll try to fish there.  If I see birds just hanging out, then I typically leave them alone, unless I have another reason to fish there.  

 

Second, we don't really have many shell beds around here.  But all of those nooks and crannies they create are probably good for bottom dwellers like crawfish and crustaceans, so I could see why bass would be in that area looking for food.  

 

Third, beavers, muskrats, nutria... I don't know.  I know they're primarily herbivories, so I don't think bass would be too afraid of them.  But they're big, so maybe they would be a bit weary of them in the area.   Either way, I've caught fish when they're nearby before.  So whatever impact they play, good or bad, doesn't seem to be much.  

 

Fourth, as for other fish, that can be a good sign.  It at least means there is a reason for fish to be there, and there's usually more spots in a lake that you won't find any fish than there are spots you'll find fish.  So it's a least a sign that it might be a good spot.  But finding other species doesn't mean there will be bass there either, or that the bass are eating. I often catch other species of fish in the same area and at the same time as catching bass.  But I don't go around hunting areas holding other fish looking for bass.  Or, in other words, I don't go around looking for other species of fish (other than baitfish), but the presence of another species won't put me off that spot either.  

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I have noticed (on my lakes) in the summer when the bass are pushing shad up to the surface and destroying them all over the place for a few weeks, where the bass are, the gulls are not.

 

My theory is a kind of mutually assured destruction that puts pressure on each species to 'find their own fish' 🤣

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I noticed a few years back & I'm not sure if there is a correlation between the two. 

 

While night fishing around the full moon near an island I noticed when the Bats were flying the bass were active. 

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I used to night fish a small lake years ago from the bank. One of the best spots was near an old dock that had a light that shined down in the water. Bats would circle around the light, feeding on insects. The light also attracted minnows in the water, and the bass were always there, on hot muggy nights. Crappie fisherman have used floating lights for years to attract minnows, which in turn attracted crappie. The same thing attracted bass too.                          

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