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Master_Hunter_1977

Schooling fish

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I was hoping that I could probe the minds qne experience of the fisherman on this site.  I have a question that I have heard different things about.  In your experience when you get into a spot that holds fish do you find that they are all about the same size or do they vary for 1lb to 6lb or are they all like 1lb to 2lb.  And do you find that smallies and large mouth are differnt when it comes to schooling to size or are they simillar.  

Scott

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When the fish are schooling usually fish of the same size will hangout, thats why the pros will stick some fish to be sure some big fish are in the area. When they are chasing shad the small bass are usually on top while the bigger fish are below them eating the injured shad.

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For the most part, the larger the school the smaller the bass;

the larger the bass the smaller the school (population dynamics).

For this reason the term "schoolie" is synonymous to "small".

When a guy tells me he caught 50 bass yesterday, I instinctively visualize a bunch of small bass.

To minimize cannibalism, bass almost have to school in year-class (age).

As a result, the older the bass, the scarcer the bass, the smaller the school.

Indeed, the largest of bass usually swim alone or in a small pod of two or three bass.

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The schools of smallmouth or largemouth that I've gotten into, have never yielded fish above 2 lbs. and many that have been in the 12-14" range. My best numbers school yielded 20 largemouth for smallies, 18 smallies. All my school fish have been either in shallow water (rivers) or near the surface over deep water (lakes).

Panfish schools are considerably bigger, with catch rates of around 100 in an anchored spot, not uncommon in spring or fall. These fish also usually run by size, but lunker pannies mixed in are also common. Also common is to catch bass and pickerel near the school, every fish hitting the prevailing forage and not each other!

Schools can ruin a guy!

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So far what you guys are saying is what I have found to to be true I just heard on the TV yesterday a pro talking about smallmouth and said that its common to have a 6lber in with a bunch of dinks.  So I thought I would ask you guys what your experience was.  The best I have ever done on schooling fish was last year.  My dad during a prefishing session for a tourney in 5 casts put almost 20lbs of smallies in the boat.  and we have had several times that we will get in a group that yeilds 5 to 7 bass between 3-4 lbs.  These are all smallies.  I just haven't had much luck ever though when I'm catching a lont of dinks to pull a toad out of the same area.  

Thanks for your input keep them coming.

Scott

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From what I remember largemouth school more by year class smallmouth on the other hand will school sometimes in mix year class schools.

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Guest avid

don't know nothin bout no schoolin smallmouths, but largemouths school by size.  Just today i pulled out 6 bass on a plastic worm from a small cut no more than 20 feet accross.  If I didn't know better I would have sworn it was the same 12" bass.

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Chris

From what I remember largemouth school more by year class smallmouth on the other hand will school sometimes in mix year class schools.

It's my guess that smallmouth too, tend to school in year-class.

One time on the St Lawrence River I anchored-down so I could properly control

the glide of a 1/8 oz jig. I caught a few smallies that weighed about a pound each.

Then about 15 minutes later I boated a smallmouth weighing 3.5 lb. This fish was followed

by a 4-lb, 2-oz smallmouth and another bass that looked about 4 lbs, which broke-off during a jump.

I have no way of knowing, but I believe that this was a case of "Timing and Territory".

In other words, I believe the school of small bass moved away when the larger bass moved in.

Lending to this theory, I didn't catch any small bass when I was catching the big ones, and vice versa.

When the big-fish bite ended, I wasn't able to catch any bass at all.

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When you talk about schooling your talking about fish packing up to feed.LM do this by year-class.SM do not.When fish are staging or just in a normal feeding mode I don't think it matters.I have caught 6lbers with 1lbers,but they weren't schooled.And it always seems the big fish eats first.Another thing I have caught 4lb.smallmouth that were schooled with 2 lbers.This is only my experiences on my lake.Different lakes could mean different cultures sometimes.

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When one mentions schooling, I think open water bass, suspended and chasing bait.    When one mentions an area or spot holding fish, I have caught every size out of a spot.   Some spots are prone, or known for holding better quality of fish.      Until you've fished a lake for awhile, you just don't know what can come from and area.   Could be dinks, could be record.

On Fork, in the fall, if your lucky to be in the right spot at the right time, you may see an area the size of a football field with top water schooling chasing shad.   Bass going 7 plus pounds,  hundreds of them.    Ask the guides to describe this scene, your mouth drops, you just stare in amazement, forget to cast at them.   Sounds like some one throwing bricks off a bridge.   Most people get to close and that shuts them down, but be looking, theyll usually come back up 100-200 yds away.   I always have a extra large spook and a rod I can cast a country mile on.   My partners sometimes get upset because I won't troll close enough for them to get a good cast on them.    I always say, have a topwater you can cast a mile with.     The most large bass schooling caught in one run is 5,  they all weighed 8-9 lbs.   Didn't have time for camera, strike while the iron is hot, catch and release and cast.   Richard McCarty, retired Fork guide and BASS pro, had 2 clients catch 16 schoolers in 20 minutes on spooks, not one under ten pounds.

Your lake has to have the populations of big bass.   If 5, 6, 7, are hard to come by, so are the double digit bass.    Fork has the populations of trophy class fish because we have always had a slot, 14-21 inches to start, can only posses one fish over 21 inches a day, now the slot has been raised to 16-24 inches after the LMBV fish kill in 2000.    Management has been the key, the restrictive slot, CNR, and the educating of anglers on how to properly handle big fish to ensure their survival.

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Matt_Fly,

Timing and Territory is to say that large and small bass will gravitate to the same hotspots

but will do so at different times. Have you ever caught a runt and a trophy back-to-back

in the exact same spot?

I have caught more than one small bass from the exact same spot during the same time frame.

I have caught more than one trophy bass from the exact same spot during the same time frame.

I don't ever remember catching a small and large bass in the exact same spot during the same time frame.

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You all need to go look at my photo galleries and lunker awards pages. Those fish were caught right along with any size bass you can think of short of the less than year old bass. There are those that came from on the top, those on the bottom, and those in the middle. I couldn't possibly remember all the times that we have taken a 12-14 pound bass right out the mix as they slurped the shad that were busting.

You might want to do a bit of research about the cannabalistic characteristics of largemouth bass. Something to ponder: If bass were cannabalistic how many bass would be in a body of water? Since Bass belong to the family of sunfish (schoolers) how would a young bass ever attain age? There are cannabalistic bass, but where do they reside? Are they able to casually infiltrate the schools?

Another thought: when doing research on these critters sometimes a text book is far better than BASS or some other magazine.

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George Welcome,

When I lived in Rico, Georgia I had a little backyard pond. I already related this story

but I'll run it by again. This is not something that I read, this is something that I personally experienced.

I stocked my little pond with bass that I caught in neighboring farm ponds. As I often did,

I strolled out to the pond to count noses. On this day though, I noticed that one of the smaller bass

was missing, and I immediately thought raccoon. Then I noticed a little something protruding

from both sides of a larger bass's mouth, as though he were growing a mustache. It was the caudal

lobes of the missing smaller bass, and I will tell you that bass wasn't that much smaller.

In fact, the nose of that bass was obviously butted against the anal cavity of his captor.

By no means an isolated incident, any bass that gets too close to a larger bass is flirting with death.

I don't imagine that too many bass would question the cannabalism of their larger elders,

I think the wiser question would be: "How big is a spot?"

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I think the main point that biology can't even prove is that a bass is not a bass wherever you go.There are many things that determine a bass's habits.But on my lake a mature LM bass rarely schools.

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CJBasswacker,

I hold the same view. The larger the bass the smaller the school.

Ultimately, the true giants often swim alone or in a very small pod.

My point here is that small bass don't intermingle with trophy bass

except in Bass Pro Shops Aquarium. Obviously if you catch a bass

to your right and another straight away, they didn't come from the same spot.

You really have to pay attention to detail, because there may just be

a depth discrepancy within the same spot. Larger bass often lie beneath

a school of smaller bass (schoolies). This is true of both fresh and saltwater species.

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Sorry Rolo,  my experience shows me different, as should, we fish different lakes, different lake management, I think someone said most Fla lakes are natural and not as deep, where as all but one in TX are man made and deeper.  We have different timbers, some wood in common, but different overall.   Vegitation is even different, some in common, some not.

If I followed the common rules as written,  I would never make adjustments, and I know the same rules don't always apply to every lake the same way.  

I do agree on bass eating bass, male bass live on fry in the spring, but thats not the only time.   I had a 8 inch dink on a rattle trap in crystal clear water on lake travis about five feet from the boat, as I started to swing the dink in, a school of large bass attacked the eratic small bass, thus hooking both for a short second only to end up with the 7.5 pounder instead.   Tons of large bass after the chrome trap or small bass fighting erratic.

I've caught large and small bass out of the same brush on the same day, during the same peroid of time.  

Rolo, wasn't it you that said pond and aguarim studies don't mean nothing unless they are done on big bodies of water?   Yet you bring up a pond  example when you put it down in another thread.     Which I don't need a study to know most fish eat their own.  

George,   if the forage isn't around, bass eat bass, even when there is enough bait, bass will eat bass.

Why does everybody make cranks in baby bass color?  I know I match the hatch later in the summer and baby bass is one of my meal tickets.

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Rolo, wasn't it you that said pond and aguarim studies don't mean nothing unless they are done on big bodies of water?

No, I never said that.

Yet you bring up a pond example when you put it down in another thread.

I'd like to think that your other statements are more accurate.

If I made that statement then you will find it in the archives.

Why does everybody make cranks in baby bass color?

That's easy, that's what sells best, not necessarily what works best.

I know I match the hatch later in the summer and baby bass is one of my meal tickets.

You match the hatch??

Just yesterday you said that you use big baits in winter and spring and small baits in summer?

In my opinion, that's bass ackwards. In the spring of the year the waters are filled with newborn fry

that grow larger as the year progresses. On top of that, bass have a small appetite in winter

due to their lower metabolism, a time when small lures are most appropriate.

As water temperatures rise, so does the appetite of bass, hence bigger lures are more suitable

in summer, when the young-of-the-year have grown in size. Of course we could argue what works best,

but that certainly isn't matching the hatch.

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I know it was said, maybe not you, and thats okay.  Some archives have been deleted because of the disagreements.  It was on the studies done and my posts have been deleted in that topic.    Sorry, not trying to offend you or anyone else.

If you match the hatch in the spring, just what bait is that small?

In the summer months, how big has the fry grown? not a gupy anymore.

Rolo, think what you want,  threadfin shad aren't the main diet in the winter, big bass seek gizzard shad, the bigger shad on our lakes, thus big baits.   Thread fins go real deep to survive the winters.   Also, if water temps drop to the low 40's, the first shad to die off are the newly hatched and the larger shad is what is prevalent.  Threadfins or gizzards, so big baits are still choice for larger bass.

Tom Reddington has been posting over a year here, and I didn't go back and read them.   Check Tom's integrity out,  his posts will attest to what I believe, so will most of other guides if you google search them.    

It may be bassackwards to you, but works fine for me.

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Rolo, I did go back and it was George Welcome who mentioned that, sorry, I was close, it was us three who continued that thread along mostly,  again,  I'm sorry.

Matt

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No problem  ;)

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