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CJ

Once they go shallow

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Has anybody ever experienced bass going shallow early in the season?As in about a month early.Have you found that the bass stay shallow until they are done spawning?What would some of the factors be that would cause them to change their location if they did?The fish have been shallow but there is a cold front coming.The cooler air temps will prevail for about 5 days or so.The front will cause the temps to go from highs in the mid 70s and lows in the low 60s to highs in the mid 50s to lows in the mid 30s.Any opinions would be appreciated.Thanks CJ

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If the fish are locked on beds they might just ride it out or stage nearby. If they are in the process of they might stage nearby or drop back to deeper water or hang out in some thick cover. The factors that would cause them to move in pre spawn is if the food source moves or a rapid change in Temp or conditions. If they where locked on beds a rapid change in conditions, or fishing pressure. They might still be in the area but not relating to the spawning flats or the beds. Sometimes they will build the bed and if conditions change they will abandon the bed until conditions are more favorable or might change to another bedding location all together. Female bass don't need to stay with the same partner and if conditions change they might find a better looking bass to hang with. I have pulled 2 different large females off the same nest before.

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I firmly believe that largemouth bass may be found Shallow and Deep during every day of the year.

I feel that the major change that takes place is the change in bass "disposition", spurred by

changing conditions at different water depths. This in turn may cause a perceived change in location.

Whenever I adjust my location, it is done with the intent to improve the percentage of catchable bass,

not because I think they moved to a different depth level. This I believe would apply to all species

of non-migratory freshwater fish.

Roger

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Back in 2004, I believe, Lake Weiss had a major freeze occur.  Millions upon millions of shad died due to the cold temps, and we had ice on the water.  It extended about 20 ft. into the water.

However, although the ice was there, anglers were pitching jigs and soft plastics to the edge of the ice, especially where it connected with a dock, a laydown, etc., and fish were being caught.  These places were only 5-7" ft. deep.

I remember some nice ones being pulled out that year.  After the ice left, a lot of catfish were caught around the shorelines.  They would stack up around the places where the dead shad were stacked up.  If a wind came along that carried the shad into the open water, you could toss a top-water and fish it really slowly, and have largemouth, spots, and stripers inahle them.

What is funny that so many shad died, that an estimate on the # of shad could not be agreed upon.  It did not, however, make a dent in their population.  You could still go out with a cast net, when the crappies and bass went to spawn, and catch several shad with the net.

So, yea, I believe that some bass stay shallow all year long.  If a major front rolls through and they are unable to deal with the changes, they might move location.  It could be 1 ft. deeper, or it could be 30 ft. deeper.  Just as humans are similiar in many ways, each individual is different.............I like to think that the same applies to fish, and that there will always be the one rogue fish that says he can stay shallow no matter what conditions occur.   8-)

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Guest ouachitabassangler

I'll third it that many bass spend their lives shallow. Many anglers sit out a cold winter so don't experience that, but upon arriving 'discover' the bass have 'prematurely' moved shallow. They were probably there all winter. Come pre-spawn their deep living cousins move shallow too, to feed up then spawn, magnifying the effect of many bass living shallow. Then the deep dwellers go back out deep and the shallow community returns to normal, with frequent raids into shallow communities in search of food. The most mature bass normally choose deep for obvious reasons, the reasons they grow big living longer lives. Come adverse weather the shallow dwellers do often opt to drop deeper, but not necessrily moving over 50 yards from their shallow domain. In shallow lakes they just bury up deeper in thick vegetation, with no other choice.

Jim

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Ouachita,

Quite recently I made a post that was eerily similar to yours. Maybe you can help me here.

Many years ago I read an excellent article about telemetry studies conducted by In-Fisherman.

The article included a color-coded lake chart tracking the actual movements of bass-A, bass-B,

and so on. The results of the study clearly rebuffed Buck Perry's "shallow<>deep" migration theory.

The lion's share of the bass were residential home bodies and those that did venture forth,

moved parallel to shore without any significant depth change. The presence of a swim bladder

would support this behavior. I don't possess the article nor do I know when it was published.

Is it possible that you're familiar with that article or maybe another one like it?

Roger

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I was talking with my fishing partner about that recently.

Exactly one week ago, we were fishing a small night tourney working some off-shore hydrilla grass in about 11+ feet of water and we were tearing it up! We were reeling in a mess of legal fish up to 3.5 lbers.

The thing is, we were fishing the exact same spot about two months earlier with the exact same results.

So I asked him, "What's up the pre-spawn and the post-spawn and the staging areas and all that stuff? Why aren't the fish moving around like it says they should in all those magazines? The bass seem to be here no matter what."  He just looked at me and shrugged (like me, he ain't too bright).

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Guest ouachitabassangler

:) Roger, your similar post was two up from mine. Or were you referring to another one? :-/

I remember that study published in "Fisheries" that supports that finding you read in In-Fisherman (which I don't get), and that's not the only one out there. Perry was wrong, but I sure like his trolling technique and baits. We troll for walleyes using those things. The telemetry has sure opened up some possibilities, especially for walleye anglers. It seems most predator fish cruise a favorite depth contour, communities stratified by depth range. It's tough on a fish to make much vertical change, and they are creatures of habit, always preferring comfort and a certain amount of security. There was a really old bass book, name forgotten for now, of a fellow documenting the travels of a particular female bass or two that were very predictable to show up at certain places on a schedule, like an old doe on the trail. His findings are just recently supported by telemetry. They'll wander off course occasionally, but have a route to follow. I've witnessed all my life, experienced hunters that really understand wildlife in the woods make great anglers as well as great soldiers. Animals have much in common. That's why I believe in solunar tables, major/minor feeding times, because I see land animals come out to feed during those times. There's a time to sleep and digest, and a time to feed, a place to be when the light is just so.

Jim

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I believe that there are some fish that stay shallow but a larger percentage are migratory especially from pre-spawn to post-spawn seasons,on my home lake.I also believe we as anglers are decieved by deep fish being more catchable and vice versa due to the conditions in general and we claim they have "moved up" or "dropped down".Could someone please define "telemetry" for I am only a poorly educated Ky.redneck.Also about vertical movement.I understand swim bladders playing a role in vertical movement.But I know that some fish,who are deep dwellers,still come shallow to spawn.Does this mean they have to have time to adapt to the pressure?Do they just gradually move in?

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Guest ouachitabassangler

Black bass don't migrate like stripers or salmon, in general living their life out in about a quarter to half mile range, literally home-bodies. That's why the best fishing is usually close to spawning bed areas all year. They don't have the energy to swim miles from a deep water haunt to a flat up lake. They begin their short journey from a major channel just out from a main lake point or something like that, through a creek mouth into a cove or a flat that's perfect for spawning. They typically don't have to move more than a mile in one direction to spawn like up a very long creek arm. They move maybe 50-100 feet a day beginning with any warmup, slowly swimming shallower feeding along the way. Once in the target shallow depth they then can feed more aggressively in warmer water, roam more widely along a preferred contour, gain energy, and begin stocking up for the spawn.

Telemetry is simply a radio beacon attached to the fish, tracked by boats with receivers visiting oncea day or week, stationary antennas on buoys that triangulate signals, or as sophisticated as using satellites to track them, though that's quite expensive, mostly used for oceanic studies. Researchers tag bald eagles, ducks, bears, deer, whales, whatever to find out what their range is.  

Jim

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Black bass don't migrate like stripers or salmon, in general living their life out in about a quarter

to half mile range, literally home-bodies.

I totally agree, in fact I doubt that it's even debate-worthy.

When I'm doing a chart survey for largemouth bass at home, I'm looking for trial sites that offer

the "broadest" available food shelf adjacent to the "sharpest " available drop-off.

Accordingly, a distance of 50-ft between the two would be better than 100-ft, and a trial site

with a 300-ft span would by comparison be a low-confidence site. Naturally, I don't always find

what I looking for, but I'm going to select the best available sites the ecosystem has to offer.

After all, that's exactly what the bass are doing too.

The field survey (onsite) may disclose some unexpected surprises, it usually does.

For instance, the juicy broad flat I salivated over at home, may have unsuitable bottom content

and support few if any weedbeds. Well, we just fire-up the mill and head for trial site No. 2.

My point is this, no matter what my chart search and onsite search reveal, the pivot point

of my search is always the "food shelf". These broad shallow areas have everything to do

with population dynamics because they serve as food shelf, bedding grounds and as a nursery

for bass fry.

Roger

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RoLo even though we disagree on rod length's ;) I am in agreement with you on this one. Other than my ponds, which just by size, limit the amount of area a bass can be in, I have found the "home body" theroy holds true on my local public lake as well. I have always ALWAYS found  LM bass year round in close proximity to there spawning area's. And even more importatnly near there sorce of food. In this lake that sorce just happens to be predominatly Bluegills and other sunfish. These bass are typicaly no deeper than 10-15 feet, even when the lake is hard. After ice out ( usualy mid march around here) they begin a slow trek towards the spawing area, and after a few weeks of steady weather can be found shallow. These bass remain in the spawing area for a few weeks, then SLOWLY move just a little deeper. And by just a little deeper I mean a little, most all summer long these bass hold and feed around shallow weeds, docks, and other structure that holds bluegills. If the bluegills move, so do the bass, and an extreme move would be from the front side of a weed bed in 4 feet of water to the back side in 8 feet. I catch bass year round in water 10' or less , when the waters 45 degrees or 75 degrees. The key is forage.  You could have the best looking peice of structure in the world in 20' of water, but if there is no forage there there will also be no bass. And up north here those deeper areas are usualy inhabited by walleye/pike and other preditors, no need for the bass to hang out there and compete (or even be ate) by those larger fish when the shallows team with bluegills year round.

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Guest ouachitabassangler

My absolute favorite 12 month producing site is one with a narrow flat bounded on two sides by either two creeks or a split creek channel, a flat topped hump between. If its got hydrilla on it, great, as that provides cover for both bass and forage, and bass have ready escape routes to deep water. The larger bass will be much more secure there than in a wide expanse flat a long way from deep water, except at night.

The flat: 1 to 3 acres usually with no easily visible vegetation, right now emergent plants about a foot tall at various depths. That's perfect for holding bass and panfish, and there will be plenty of spots suitable for beds. These places are out in the lake close to mouths of major and secondary creeks. While I sit over one of 3 of those places, everyone else is working nearby large flats with visible vegetation, fishing the edges. None bother me, thinking I'm deep water fishing.

Finding them: A good contour map on GPS and sonar. I do my homework on the home pc, set waypoints, then go look the flats over for the right vegetation.

The channels: Steep dropoff on at least one side. If a cold front comes through the bass will settle down the slopes unless the bucks are on beds, females going deeper, but remaining very close by the food source they will use all summer. Stumps or other wood on the slopes are even better. A shaded channel slope is prime for them to have an alternative to burying up in thick cover in the middle of the day. Now on those slopes I want to find little cuts running off the flat, depressions that can hold one or more bass in ambush positions where they can catch baitfish coming through the channel. Where there are standing snags on the slopes (that run into 12-20 feet of channel bottom), the bass can use the wood to force baitfish against the slope and pin them down. I found one place where a deep cut into a flat makes it possible for bass to chase baitfish up into the flat and a dead end. The bass never leave those places.

Sorry, no waypooints shared for those  ;D

Jim

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