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Rattletrap

Bass Forage?

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What's ya'lls best way to figure out what the main forage is at the time you start fishing? Can you read shad on an LCR at a 6ft to 8ft water depth?

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I can see shad at almost any depth on my graph.Usually its just a big ball.Sometimes the ball is scattered,that usually means something is feeding on them.As far as what the bass are feeding on,I need to catch a fish and look for sign unless I see surface activity.

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You need to know what kind of food is going to be available at a given time, you need to know what species of fish are available in the lake along with bass, different species spawn at different times throughout the year. Bass in Mexico do not feed on shad beacuse there 's no shad in Mexico, bass in Mexico feed on minnows, tilapia, carp, bluegills, crawfish and baby bass.

Carp and minnows spawn early in the spring before bass do, by the time the bass spawn is over the most abundant forage in the lake is baby carp and minnows, so between early March and mid May bass will be feeding heavily on baby carp and minnows, by June baby carp have outgrown the size where they are an easy meal for bass, only the bigger fish can feed on baby carp.

Bluegills spawn at almost the same time bass do so by the time the carp are just to big to be eaten there 's an abundant supply of baby bluegills and baby bass, between mid May and mid June bass feed heavily on baby bluegills and baby bass.

Tilapia spawn when the weather is the warmest, between late May and August, tilapia down here spawn 2-3 times so by the time when baby bluegills are becomong scarce baby tilapia start to appear so bass prey upon them, there will be a constant supply of baby tilapia all the way down to mid November when they become scarce just because they are too big to be eaten.

From November until March bass feed primarily on minnows and crawfish.

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If I see a little fish mark or two on my depth finder, I assume it's a bubble or some grass floating along. At $115, my Eagle depth finder only tells me the depth, the temperature and what kind of cover is on the bottom. That's about it.

Someday I'll upgrade, but actually seeing baitfish swim around in a ball on the depth finder is a little out of my range right now. Sounds cool though.

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Raul, excellent post.  Where can a guy get similar information on other lakes?  For example, I'm going on a fishing trip to Table Rock the first week in May and it would be helpful to know what type forage the bass are most likely to be feeding on.

Thanks, TC

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There is a website called MidAmericaOutdoors (sorry I don't know the specific address) that gives fishing reports for various lakes, including Table Rock.  They are not always uptodate, but you can get a general idea to get you started by reading what the guides are putting out there.

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Gobbledog. I'm in the same boat. Oneday I might step up to the big electronics. I would like to get an underwater camera too. It would be cool see what the bass are doing under different conditions.

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The most accurate answer SRV can be obtained from the local fisheries biologist, he knows when and where the different species spawn in a particular state on any given time. I know this because that 's what happens where I live, for example, if I 'm going to fish a lake along the coast like Lake Guerrero or lake Bacurato where it 's warmer earlier than where I live I adjust the table by one month, what happens here in March it 's going to happen a month before there, height above sea level acts like distance from the ecuator, the higher or the farther to the north you are the later things will happen.

What I could consider the reference point to know what will be available for the bass to feed is the time when bass spawn for example in Table Rock, if they spawn like here, from late February to late April,  the time table remains pretty much the same. Tilapia is a particular case only for the warmest states of the US where the species doesn 't die during the winter like in Florida, so unless Tilapia are present in that lake and they don 't die they can be considered as forage base.

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Thanks Shad, I found it (www.maout.com)... select Mid America Fishing Scene, then Missouri Lakes, and so on...

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To find you lakes forage check with your local fisheries biologist. Some lakes have info on them on your states outdoor websites. Also one way to get a general idea is to determine your lakes fertility. This can be determined by depth and water clarity. Infertile being deep, cold, and gin clear while fertile is usually shallow and warmer, it is usually a stained color with only about 1 to 2 feet of visability. some species of fish are dependent on the fertility of a lake, such a perch and blue gill. just a thought, but the best way to determine the forage is to catch some fish on tradtional tackle and colors and clean them and examine the contents of their stomachs.

Peter  

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Raul, excellent post. Where can a guy get similar information on other lakes? For example, I'm going on a fishing trip to Table Rock the first week in May and it would be helpful to know what type forage the bass are most likely to be feeding on.

Thanks, TC

I fished Table Rock Thanksgiving weekend.I liked it.You will be fishing at a different time I did,but I can tell you there is a lot of baitfish(I think threadfins and yellowtail,probally other species too)If you haven't been there,there is alot of standing timber in deep water.There are alot of bluegill there and in May I would bet the bass would be feeding on them.If you are going early in May there is a chance the bass will be spawning there then.Brown jigs and smoke colored tubes were producing when I was there.There are some nice smallies and big spots there too.I went to a tackle store in Kimberling City,I wish I could remember the name of it,the people who owned it were very nice and gave us some good info to help get us started.Good Luck    CJ

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On most lakes, including Table Rock, bass always relate to crawfish and bugs even if they are not "in season". The jig bite is the best example I can think of. During the fall there seems to be a particular preference for shad or threadfin or other baitfish due primarily, I think, to the abundance of maturing fry. I have had better luck at that time with lures that are slightly different than the prevailing size, color or shape of the natural prey. An example is fishing a Norman Fat Boy, bluegill pattern when the baitfish population is dominated by chubs, gizzard or threadfin shad (yellowtail).

This applies to live bait, too. In late summer and fall there seeem to be a few billion 2-3" yellowtail schooling throughout the Tennessee River system. They are easy to catch in numbers with a throw net. This bait is effective and most importantly, free! However, we have much greater success in both numbers and size fishing store bought shiners. Shiners are native to the region, but not the quantity that we see with other forage. Smallmouth show a tremendous preference for the shiners.

So, I don't think natural forage is as important as many have been lead to believe. There are times, like in the fall, when certain lures may be more effective (minnow immitators), but I haven't found "matching the hatch" to be key.

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In the fall, bass hit anything that moves, the temps finally cooled back down.  Once the water has cooled, gotten alittle frigid, and energy is their concern, bass will target any "cheap" easy prey that comes by.  A freebie!!!!  But if bass have to exert energy in the process of finding food.  Protien and calcium is high on their priorities.   Crawfish, if avaiable are #1 in a bass diet.   The jig is the #1 imiatator of crawfish.  Protien is a must for the growth of the eggs inside.

 If you have a body of water that isn't popular, private, or just new to you, the state biologist should have some answers, area bait shops, and the guy on the bank fishing.  If no info found, well its time to catch some and eat a few.  Winter time is a bad time to search shallows for bait fish.  Summer times will have the shallows full of fish and a scouting trip will allow you to notice what is in your hole of water.   While cleaning, look inside the fishes stomach to see whats been on the menu.   My brothers and I do this on the rivers when fishing for cats.   Are they feeding on carp fingerlings, hellgramites, other catfish?

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