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Muddy

THE STRIKE ZONE ARTICLE

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Hey Fellas; I read this article in the Biology section of the articles. This article seemed to stress the strike zone in relation to the prey and availability of that prey as being the primary concern for the fish in that body of water

I have another article by the In Fisherman that talks about "mood" of the fish, that actively feeding ,aggressive fish have a larger Strike Zone and will go a little further to chase a bait.

All the way down to non feeding bass, and putting a bait right in front of their noses.

  What are your experiences and insights with this?

Thanks

Dominick

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Thats a very good article and one of the things most people don't think about when fishing. When I do swimbait/big bass seminars about half of my seminar is based on the strike zones of big bass and how to put your bait in it properly to get bit. Also, the bigger the bass the more important the strike zone becomes. Small fish have smaller bodies so their body weight can often be maintained with larger strike zones. A big bass needs to be more efficent to maintain body weight so it's strike zone is often smaller than that of a smaller fish in the same area. Things like type and size of prey species, structure the fish is using, water clarity, water depth, species of bass, age and size of bass, water temp, etc. all have a big effect on the strike zone.

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Muddy, I absolutely believe the theory. I also believe that we influence what size the strike zone is meaning fishing pressure, boat traffic, and other factors.

My example....In the months of April, May, June we out in this end of the PA fish numerous tournaments on Pymatuning. It's a very large lake by PA's standards but on the weekends it may have as many as 10-15 tournaments going on plus recreational bass, walleye, panfisherman. I often practice there during the week when boat traffic and fishing pressure is much lower. The bass usually bite very well and on baits such as spinnerbaits, cranks, swimming jigs.

Come Sunday, things sometimes drastically change. It's my belief that it changes because the fish are getting pounded on Friday, Sat, then Sunday.

How do I adjust? I will start with the fast moving baits early on and let the fish dictate to me what they want. I can usually catch a few on the movers because they are feeding at the prime time, but then things go stale. The lake has an abundance of shallow cover. These fish will bury into thick cover and you literally have to drop a bait on their nose to get bit.

My best examples.....I have a stump GPS'd that's off the bank in about 3 fow. It sits where guys usually have their boats. I have run to it first during low light and immediately caught fish on a moving bait.

Mid-morning or mid-day I usually go back to it. I usually cannot get bit on it with a moving bait. I believe that the constant boat traffic makes these fish hold tight and not bite.

How do I adapt/adjust? Multiple casts with different presentations.

On one occasion I made 17 casts to the stump with a spinnerbait, banging the bait off the stump in various directions. Cast number 17 produced a keeper smallmouth. I moved around the stump and started over. 15 casts later I boated another fish, a keeper largemouth. 32 casts to one stump for 2 fish. On other occasions I've had to make multiple pitches with a vertical baits like a tube to get bit.

I firmly believe that boat traffic and fishing pressure changed the strike zone and you had to make the fish bite. IMHO sometimes weather conditions do the same thing, high skies, drop in water temp etc......

I have other examples but I've been long winded enough already. :D

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Yes Muddy, the bass have different strike zone areas.

When they are active the zone is large.

When they are inactive the zone is small.

This is why the bass will streak upward of 10 feet to hit a spinnerbait in the summer and not move over 1 foot in the winter.

Good info. Thanks for sharing and opening this thread.  :)

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I don't buy the theory at all. Remember, that's what it is - a theory. A lot of people consider it the gospel.

It presupposes a perspective of being able to see the bass in their environment and being able to drop baits on them, and I think trying to view bass fishing from that perspective can be counterproductive. We rarely, if ever, are able to know exactly where a bass is, and whether our bait is right in his face or two feet to his left. All we can do is make educated guesses and hope we get "lucky". (The more we practice - and learn - the luckier we get.)

Further, it implies that at certain times and in certain situations, the bass all have small, large, or medium strike zones. Why can there not be some hungry fish with large strike zones and some other fish with small ones? Granted, there are times that the fish are off, and it's tough to catch them, but that doesn't mean that you have to put baits right in their faces to catch them. And it certainly doesn't mean that if you put a bait right in their "strike zone" that they'll eat it.

As far as throwing many many casts to a certain piece of cover - it just doesn't seem to me that there could be a fish sitting there watching a bait go by many times, then all of a sudden as it hits the fish's "strike zone" he eats it. I think it's much more likely that a fish moved onto the cover during that time period, or that he finally got p'd off enough to eat it.

In my opinion, thinking about fish as having tiny strike zones during cold fronts, for example, can be a turnoff for us because it makes it seem really really tough to catch fish when it doesn't actually have to be, and that mindset can result in a worse presentation on our part, and fewer fish.

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In MY EXPERIENCE, having learned how to better interpret and use my depth finder, I can see high probable structure, and it has allowed me to put a Bait within a close enough range that this year it brought my catch rate way up!

The strike zone was first taught to me by Al Linder's 4 part articles, since I know his abilities and this has already started to work for me, and now I want to fine tune it. It is everyday reality to me, no longer theory in my life.

This summer I was fishing with Speedbead, on a body I know with a steady, but not crazy bite going on. He was giving me some lessons in reading electronics and i took him to where I knew a creek Chanel split in some 16 ft of water. He has a really expensive unit, all I see on mine is the split and the creek bed, he pointed out a log that lays just beyond the split. I threw a jig and plastic down and had an immediate fish and he did the same and 2 casts later he hooked up. We knew the target, high percentage bass spot, put the jig right next to the front end of the log, and nailed a fish.

 Tony: I was a doubter of passing the same bait over the ame fish idea myself.Then I fished at Lake Fork and watched the fellas do it, you could actually see them setting up on a bedding fish for a while and bringing the bass to the boat eventually.

  I have had sucess since doing this , with fish hugging docks and boat houses, it really does work.

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I do not believe it to the theory at all but fact

Tokyo Tony you are correct all bass never have the same strike zone, feed at the same time, spawn at the same time ect. Now as far as bass setting there watching a lure repeatedly go by that to is fact, I have in very clear water watched it numerous times.

With any part of fishing one must consider type, age/size of prey species, species of bass, age/size of bass, structure, type of cover, water clarity, water depth, water temp, barometric pressure, seasonal patterns etc.

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I also consider it to be fact the more I ponder it.

As far as multiple casts with one finally triggering a bite because it got into the fish's strike zone......I have proven it over and over again.

On some days you just have to put it where they want it.

Tony.....you fish for steelhead........you have got to see that on some days a bait has to be presented PRECISELY for them to eat it. On other days they will move and strike a bait. I have see that hundreds of times from Lake Erie steelhead.

IMHO bass are no different.

As far as an angler being negatively affected by believing that fishing is tough on some days, I think that has made me a BETTER angler.

By figuring out that the bite is slow or off, I'm able to to prepare myself and really bear down and fish thoroughly. I also believe what Catt said, many factors affect what size a strike zone will be on a given day.......

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'Tis better to throw the wrong bait in the correct strike zone then the correct bait out of the strike zone.

;)

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I know that sometimes you can throw 30 casts at a bass and get it to bite on the 30th cast, but I don't think it's because the 30th cast magically hit the "strike zone". In that case, I think you just p'd it off enough to make it hit.

The articles I've read about strike zones give them a defined shape - wider directly ahead and above the fish, narrowing behind the eyes, and non-existent behind the fish. Speaking of strize zones implies that you have to get a bait within the fish's strike zone in order to catch it. How about when a fish is active, you land a senko 15 feet behind it, it turns around, swims up, and smashes it? You mean the fish's "strike zone" went 15 feet behind it? You don't have to put a bait in a fish's "strike zone" to catch it, and putting a bait in the fish's "strike zone" doesn't mean the fish will strike. That's a fact. And since that's true, what's the point of thinking in terms of these zones?

We can all agree that sometimes bass are tougher to catch than at other times, and that big bass are harder to catch than small bass. Basically, we end up with the same thing at the end of the day whether or not we think of fish as having these strike zones. However, I just think it's misleading to think of bass behavior in terms of strike zones because it implies that you have to put a bait in the fish's strike zone to catch it, and if you do put the bait in that zone, that the fish will strike. I don't think that's true at all.

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Feed efficiently (maximize food intake and minimize energy output)

Size of bass + type & size of prey species + distance to be covered + energy output = strike zone

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Hey Tony; If the Bass is a Boston Red Sox Bass, and you throw it a slider, in the Strike Zone, Will he hit then

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How about when a fish is active, you land a senko 15 feet behind it, it turns around, swims up, and smashes it? You mean the fish's "strike zone" went 15 feet behind it? You don't have to put a bait in a fish's "strike zone" to catch it,

You're describing the "zone of awareness" (Rich Zaleski). A bass hears or sees something and turns to it. If the lure is slow enough (a falling Senko) the bass may be able to move into range to take it. If it is too fast for the bass given activity level, the bass won't bother. It's a matter of energy conservation. That "range" is the "strike window" (Ralph Manns), and it moves around with the fish and varies in size with the bass' activity level.

and putting a bait in the fish's "strike zone" doesn't mean the fish will strike.

That's for sure!

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Since most of what I have read, that LMB are ambush predators and that ambush type predators by their very nature do not expend a lot of energy to track down and consume prey  most of the time. I buy the strike zone and I will also concentrate my log notes this year to see if using this increases good fish to the boat.

  I aknowlege that just because you put a bait in the fish's strike zone is no guarentee for a strike, it does up the ante that you will get more hookups.

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I did, thanks Paul. There is really very little in the way of peer reviewed scientific data, much less than I thought when it comes to LMB> A lot of what has been written is based on observations, from which more than one conclusion is possible and these guys seem to go for   WHAT EVER DATA SUPPORTS WHAT THEY BELIEVE, NOT WHAT IS ACTUALLY GOING ON. I am not saying they are wrong but I have to be careful myself, because I am trying to figure out what all the data in my logs mean, and I have some preconceived ideas myself/

 Dr.Catt is looking more and more like it on the money with his KISS THEROY!

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Much of what I know about the current topics THE STRIKE ZONE ARTICLE & Bass Depth-Activity Level-Lure Choice as well as spawning bass I've learned from Ken Cook, a former Oklahoma fisheries biologist turned Pro. Ken admits There haven't been any real definitive studies done on it and if it wasn't for Bigmouth by Glen Lau, we wouldn't know much about it at all.

Cook has read about the habits and habitats of the bass as detailed in technical journals from the scientific world. More importantly, he has gained even more knowledge from countless hours spent on the water observing bass and gauging their reactions to lures, predators, boat presence, changing weather conditions and more.

There is a lot of information out there but it is real hard to discern fact from fiction; I've always looked for data that was supported by other data. If 3 or more biologist have drawn the same conclusion it's pretty safe bet it's true.

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Yeah, I hear you Muddy. We do have to be careful what we are willing to believe. A lot of scientific research out there isn't directly applicable to our angling. Good science progresses at a snail's pace, and most of it has nothing to with angling per se. On the other hand, anglers can be way too quick to jump to conclusions. Seems we somehow NEED conclusions -not just in angling. It can be hard to just say I dunno, and be happy with it.

Strike Windows were introduced by Ralph Manns in IF 20 years ago. It's an interesting way of looking at how bass respond to prey, and it's backed by a pretty deep understanding of bass. Ralph is a good scientist and angler. He's pretty cautious about putting stuff out there that isn't well backed, and when he is speculating, he's upfront about it.

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Tom and Paul,Thank you fellas so much. I am gonna put this on the shelf as I will be here at Elaine's until 1/5/09

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Back to the world of humans, eh Muddy? ;D

The strike window isn't like mousetrap, touch it and the fish strikes -they do have a decision to make on the lure -often whether it's actually food or not, or one of those dangerous things (lures).

But, here's a mindblower for you...

Bass and other fish have an extension of he lateral line, going onto the lower jaw, called the mandibular pores. It's been known in ichthyology circles, for many years, that stimulation of these hairs can cause an automatic feeding response. These hair cells are used at the last moments when a fish is closing on prey, to accurately coordinate their suction to the movements of prey. (I've always wondered if the lack of life in a "killed" lure is why many bass don't take it after they've inspected it up close.)

I've attempted to trigger this reaction in spawning females in the past, and believe I may have been successful a few times. I use a ribbon tail worm and try to tickle a reluctant bass' jaw. When I used to target spawning females (I watch 'em now) I found that they wouldn't always take a worm allowed to fall to bottom -maybe they see it too much from other anglers. or maybe as Randall pointed out in the other post Bass Depth-Activity Level-Lure Choice that those buoyant egg laden females find it too difficult to gain depth. Whatever, they often won't do it. A swimming worm swum above them can work like a charm. In this case the worm is silhouetted and it's right smack in the bass' strike window -above and in front of her. If it doesn't do the trick, and I can get really close without spooking her away, the "jaw tickle" is worth a shot. Touch her anywhere else though and she's gone! I'm more apt to simply come back later, and stay completely out of sight.

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Here's a photo of a 15" male closely guarding a bed. However, none of the bluegills in this photo are in immediate danger, and they know it. Several are picking about the edges of the bed for loose eggs, off to the side and rear of the bass. The largest 'gill is in the most potentially dangerous spot, but he's too big to be concerned. The three bluegills behind the bass are in a very common arrangement, a semi-circular array directly behind the bass -the very safest location near that bass. Although the photo doesn't quite give the coverage in front of the bass, rest assured there are no 'gills within his strike window.

It's pretty common to see 'gills move out ahead of a cruising bass, circle around behind, and watch it leave the area. Bass cannot catch 'gills at will, they must use honed judgment, appropriate actions and approaches, and take advantage of opportunities. As much as bass are "honed" to hunt bluegills, conversely bluegills are well honed to evade bass.

BassBed150.jpg

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