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Bait fish by season?


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Hey guys, I was wondering if anyone could explain what type of bait fish, crawfish, etc... bass feed on by the season or periods such as pre-spawn,  spawn, post-spawn, early/late summer, fall, winter, etc... I think this can really help me by trying to match my lures to w/e they are feeding on. I live in North Carolina, if that helps.

-Thanks, I'm looking forward to your responses

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You need to learn what type of prey is in the lakes you fish. Study those baitfish or crayfish to learn there habits.

Bass are cold blood animals and eat less in cold water and more in warm water. The baitfish and crawdads are also cold blooded and their behavior and location is key to where the bass will be located.

In general terms; bass eat less often in cold water below 50 degrees and prefer small size prey or high protein. In warm water above 55 degrees bass look for whatever prey is an easy meal. Spawn; food isn't on their menu. Pre and post spawn, easy to catch prey; pre spawners are hungry, post spawners are not, but they share the same locations.

During the warm water period any prey size the bass can swallow easily is OK and that depends on the size of the bass.

All young sunfishes, minnows, shiners, small troutc, young carp and catfish, crappie, shad, herring, sculpin etc. are prey fish. Crayfish (crawdads), frogs, tadpoles, worms, salamanders, large insects, small birds and what ever falls into the water small enough for a bass to swallow are prey.

WRB

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You need to learn what type of prey is in the lakes you fish. Study those baitfish or crayfish to learn there habits.

Bass are cold blood animals and eat less in cold water and more in warm water. The baitfish and crawdads are also cold blooded and their behavior and location is key to where the bass will be located.

In general terms; bass eat less often in cold water below 50 degrees and prefer small size prey or high protein. In warm water above 55 degrees bass look for whatever prey is an easy meal. Spawn; food isn't on their menu. Pre and post spawn, easy to catch prey; pre spawners are hungry, post spawners are not, but they share the same locations.

During the warm water period any prey size the bass can swallow easily is OK and that depends on the size of the bass.

All young sunfishes, minnows, shiners, small troutc, young carp and catfish, crappie, shad, herring, sculpin etc. are prey fish. Crayfish (crawdads), frogs, tadpoles, worms, salamanders, large insects, small birds and what ever falls into the water small enough for a bass to swallow are prey.

WRB

I love when people call crawfish "crayfish"

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We call them "dads", most folks call them crawdads, Cajuns call them good eating.

Crawdads are good winter to late pre spawn and fall bait. LMB tend to target the baitfish more during summer and fall transition. Since I'm a jig fisherman first and everything else second, tend to fish jigs year around.

It's not about being right or wrong, it's about sharing information.

WRB

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Post spawn.

When bass are just about finished up spawning, its time for brim, perch, and bluegills to enter the shallows and do the same.

     This is nothing new, this cycle was happening before the term bassfishermen was coined.

Bass know thy prey, they know they are shallow, EASY, and protecting their nests. Bass seek these meals. They are tired, and recovering from a long drawn out process and chasing prey is the last thing on their minds when they know where the easiest prey is.

      Our bass will enter the shallows as early as Feb and will not set up deep until the begining of June. This don't mean a bass won't go deep, just they aren't far from prime EASY feeding areas during this time frame.      Those areas are the shallows where multiple species have already spawned and fry are all over the shallows.

      I'm a firm believer that bigger female bass cruise the shallows at night looking for the easy targets during post spawn, the perch.

This period can be a 2-3 month period depending on mothernature. To me, this is the second easiest times of the year to pattern bass.

      The easist pattern in my book is summer.      Why summer?

Summer is when the weather finally stabilizes. Fall and winter has the winds, temps, and barometric pressure changing frequently, this makes for changing conditions which leads to tougher fishing as far as stable patterns goes.

      Summer also brings shad into my equation as well. Shad are creatures of habit as well. As mentioned, shad seek cover in low light conditions. Shad don't adjust to those low light conditions like a bass does. A bass would rather ambush its prey from a low light position, like shade from a tree for example.      

      Why are topwaters conditions prime in late evening and early morning?      Because shad are present most of the time. When the sunrises, the top water bite fades due to shad leaving for deeper waters for the day, just as evening arrives, shad move back to the shallow cover for safety and the evening topwater bite turns on.

The summer pattern is normally good from mid June until Sept.

What changes in Sept.? Two things, one, the weather starts changing, fronts and such. If mother nature is slow in signaling the start of fall through temps and fronts, the bass still know fall is coming due to the amount of daylight.      As fall approaches, there is less daylight , and the water will start to cool on its own due to less daylight and longer nights which signals fall and winter are soon to follow.

Crawdads do not hibernate, they go deep in winter, but are still available as a food source. What I have observed is: I see smaller crawdads in daylight hours, I see larger ones in low light conditions or dark.

Nocturnal? I just think the larger know it safer to feed when its dark.

Crawdads are good at adapting its color to its surroundings. Females will carry the eggs under their tails attatched to the "swimmerettes".

     When they hatch, the young will still cling to the underside of the tail for about 2 weeks, they will start venturing off after a few days, but will return to the mom for about 2 wks, by 2 weeks, they are normally on their own. It takes about 7-10 days for the newborn to molt for the first time. Once they molt for the first time, they are ready to leave for good.

Growing up, I observed more mud holes during low water conditions along banks, when water levels stayed high, I saw less.

Most of the time, I encounter the mud holes during late summer when water levels are known to drop.

Crawdads live for about 2 years, they mate in the fall, Oct-Nov generally, the female will lay her eggs in the spring, 2-800, when she lays them, she will collect them under her tail to carry them.

When she has collected them, the female is said to be "in berry".

When in "berry", the female has all her eggs attached to the "swimmerettes".      A female will hide, she will not eat most of the time she is gestating. Depends on temps, but normally its about 3 weeks to hatch.

Most hatches in Texas occur from the middle of May south to mid/late June, again, water temps dictate that.     Example, Toledo Bend normal has its annual mudbug hatch some time in June, more in the middle to third week, the mudbug hatch is on.

Did you know crawdads will grow new legs if they lose one?

Male grow bigger, has bigger pinchers.

Crawdads are like Buzzards of the roads. I call Buzzards, the Texas Highway Road Crew, they work 7 days a week, for free, and they keep our roads clean of roadkill.

Crawdads do the same for our streams, lakes and rivers, they eat anything.

I think the jig and texas rigged craw are two of the best baits for better than average bass.

In winter, I'm gonna say after 3 nice days of warm water, the jig and or craw is the best ticket.

I think the jig bite gets better as the water warms.

Hope this helps.

     

     

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Great topic, great post, Matt Fly.

Just get clear tjhings ip from a rookie's perspective, you're all speaking of live crawdads, right?

Where could I get live crawdads in northern virginia? Or are they no use here?

Catch them by hand. That's what I do when I wade the creek from time to time. I do take the rest of my tackle with me always for those days, when you just can't seem to catch crawdads.

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Great topic, great post, Matt Fly.

Just get clear tjhings ip from a rookie's perspective, you're all speaking of live crawdads, right?

Where could I get live crawdads in northern virginia? Or are they no use here?

Catch them by hand. That's what I do when I wade the creek from time to time. I do take the rest of my tackle with me always for those days, when you just can't seem to catch crawdads.

Order a trap online. I am sure someone sales them. All you need for bait is dead fish I THINK. Around here we have crawfish farms. It is just flooded fields with traps lined in rows. With all of the crawfish we have around here, I honestly have never used a live one as bait.

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One of the manny misconceptions we have as bass fishermen is based on junk science or someones misplaced belief as fact.

Matt stated crawdads don't hibernate and that is true. I believed crawdads hibernated, until just a few years ago. Most bass fishermen read articles that stated crawdads start the hibernation process when the water cooled to 55 degrees or so. Observation seemed to confirm the hibernation as fact; you see the crusty red/black late season crawdads migrate in mass from the shallow clay banks to deeper water and burrow into the mud. The opposite occurs as the water warms following winter, giving the appearance of coming out of hibernation.

Research proves that crawdads don't hibernate, they just move deeper to follow the food source and are active all winter. The fact jigs work all winter should have been a clue the bass were eating crawdads.

You can net crawdads at night in most shallow streams or creeks. The crawdads eyes glow red, so wear a head lamp and wade up current with a long handle fine mesh net. To make a trap use 1/4 hardware cloth mesh wire about 3' long and roll into a cylinder about 8" diameter. Flatten one end and fold back. The opposite end fold into a funnel shape facing inward and leave about a 4" diameter opening. Bacon rind or fish heads make good bait. Tie a 6' cord to the funnel open end of the trap. Drop the bait into the open end and let it fall to the closed end. Place the trap in any water the has crawdads and let sit over night. Retrieve the trap with the cord. To remove the crawdads inside the trap; unfold the flat end and shake out the crawdads onto a bucket.

WRB

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Crawdads don't hibernate

I find this strange since studies by LSU Ag Center one of the world's leading authorities on crawfish says otherwise.

But there again they are from the Southeastern Conference   ;)

http://www.lsuagcenter.com/NR/rdonlyres/86E9F5D0-6D8A-436B-BF83-8D7C21258C1D/41301/chapter2.pdf

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Crawdads don't hibernate

I find this strange since studies by LSU Ag Center one of the world's leading authorities on crawfish says otherwise.

But there again they are from the Southeastern Conference ;)

http://www.lsuagcenter.com/NR/rdonlyres/86E9F5D0-6D8A-436B-BF83-8D7C21258C1D/41301/chapter2.pdf

Interesting report, thank you for sharing it. Didn't read anything that supports hibernation, a lot of detail about burrowing, I'm sure you will highlight it.

Here is a link listing lots of interesting crayfish information;

http://iz.carnegiemnh.org/index.htm

WRB

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One of the small lakes I fish has both shad and crawdads in it. This lake is covered in hydrilla. The smaller size LM seem to go after the shad more, while the hawgs stay under the the grass mats on the bottom of the lake going after the crawdads.

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It was suggested by the LSU Ag Center that we read

Papers from the Thirteenth International Symposium on Freshwater Crayfish held in Perth, Western Australia, 2000 Edited by:  Glen J. Whisson & Brenton Knott

Section 7-13:330-337

Ranging and burrowing behavior of the red swamp crayfish in an invaded habitat: the onset of hibernation. By Francesca Gherardi, Patrizia Acquistapace, Elena Tricarico and Silvia Barbaresi

Freshwater Crayfish

Anybody wants to fork over $30 plus shipping & handling

I'll pass ;)

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http://www.naturenorth.com/fall/crayfish/cray2.htm

What do crayfish do in the winter?

I made the statement that crawdads hibernated in one of my In-Fisherman articles and received letters informing me that I was wrong and I accept that. If crayfish don't hibernate in the frozen north, they shouldn't in the climate where I fish.

WRB

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After a lengthy discussion with a crawfish farmer/biologist the apparent consensus amongst biologist is that crawfish indeed hibernate. But for this discussion it really doesn't matter, take what Matt wrote and apply it to your fishing routine.

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you guys are killing me with this great article .i just stumbled upon it and have to go to work in like 2 min, wont be back to read it for a few hours . I'm hoping time flyes today

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Starting to look like we are whipping a dead crawdad.

http://danhex.com/uploads/crawfish_biology.pdf

Good article related to bass fishing. Crawfish Fallacies; crawfish do not hibernate. Take it or leave it, it's a mute point.

WRB

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   After 3 nice days of warmer weather in the dead of winter, break that Jig n pig out and soak it slow, slow enough to watch the hook "rust",  thats a bit longer than "watching paint dry".  

    Watch the line, jig bites in the winter for me is constant line watching.     This is the time of the year, that a bass inhales or sucks that jig up, its not a thump most of the time, and the only time you really feel that bass is on the exhale and its too late.

     Do kids hibernate in the winter time?   You don't see them in the parks like you do in the summer.    Do motorcyclists hibernate in the winter time?    

    Or do they come out and play on nicer days?

Is the crawdad a member of the lobster family?      

Here are a few things I knew already.      Lobster prices always are higher in the winter.       I always thought it was "out of season" prices.

   So, I read some articles on Lobster catches in the heart of winter.  

And its 50/50 on the lobster fishermens opinions.        

    I heard dormant, hibernated used alot.     I also heard the same rhetoric as to they are coldblooded and aren't required to feed as much, so they are moving less, they are deeper than normal due to colder or longer winter and haven't moved into normal fishing grounds.

    But guess what, these guys are still running those traps in the winter and getting some, just not the spring/summer catch rates.

   I googled Canada and crawdads to see if there species showed anything different considering they have longer winter, less warmth.        

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