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Seasonal Patterns Of Florida Bass

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http://www.bassresource.com/fish_biology/seasonal_patterns.html I recently read this article on bass resource

as well as a few other articles around the web and noticed much of them dont really apply to Florida Bass (we rarely fish lakes 30-40 feet deep) and we dont really have brutal winters very often. My question is what would some of you say the seasonal patterns of a florida bass are. What should we look for during the summer, winter, fall and spring as well as spawn, pre spawn and post spawn?

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Ok, you are right, you will not find anything useful written on Florida natural bowl lakes. At least I have not been able to in 5 years of searching. If you are fishing in phosphate pits then the deeper water strategies of the upland deep lakes can be useful.

Here is what I have learned about Central Florida Lakes:

1) Spawn Mid December to as late as May depending on the weather - You are looking for water temps above 65 degrees. You will have Pre, Spawing, and Post in the same area at the same time. I pick specific areas with satelite photos/navionics map and start picking it apart from the first outside grass line and work all the way to the bank. (Look up RoLo's posts and read everything he has ever written about cartography - he taught me how to find fish on paper)

2) Dog days of Summer are June thru September. If your lake of choice has deep holes or running water then a trap or crankbait it the way to go. If not then the only rod you need is a flipping stick and flip the thickest nastiest crap you can find.

3) October and Novemeber - the water temps are finally back out of the upper 80s and the fish are more agressive and the fishing gets fun.

If you have specific questions about certain lakes just let me know.

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I am looking for his articles I haven't been able to find them on cartography. When you mentioned above 65 for the spawn I'm assuming you meant 65 and colder for the spawn? Everything I have read has said the spawn occurs when water temps get below 65 degrees.

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The spawn is triggered by length of daylight hours which in almost everywhere but Florida can be closely correlated to temperature. Just not here.

Florida strain bass are much more active in waters OVER 65 degrees.

I have some of Rolo's stuff stored in a word document I will send it when I find it

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Ok, so it was not a post, but below is some of the most valuable information I have ever seen on fishing, particularly as it relates to central Florida. It was a summary email that Roger sent me after a series of back and forth question and answer emails.

I don't think RoLo would mind me posting this so read and reread and reread.

I rewrote the Chart Survey Lee, so this is the whole ball of wax. After years of writing, mostly for my own edification,

I've inherited a clinical style of journalism that you need to bear with :-)

PREFACE

Fishing for any freshwater or saltwater species can be broken down into three major divisions: “Where”, “When” & “How”

more properly dubbed: Location – Timing – Presentation. “Location” may then be subdivided into two major subdivisions:

“Chart Survey” & “Field Survey”.

CHART SURVEY

The Chart Survey is an offsite appraisal performed in the comfort of your home using

computer-based cartography. The “top-view” of the shoreline promptly reveals all major bays, islands, narrows, tributary steams, etc. The top-view of the waterbody can be useful for isolating areas with greater or lesser water current. For example,

backwater bays are associated with slack current whereas narrows and streams are accompanied by increased water flow.

In addition to the top-view of the lake, the interrelationship between contour lines provides a “side-view” of the bottom terrain.

Disclosing the contour of the lake’s bottom is the single-most powerful revelation of the Chart Survey.

Widely spaced contour lines indicate areas of relatively “flat” bottom, while tightly crowded depth-lines indicate spots

with a fast sloping bottom. Some contour maps may also display the location of aquatic vegetation, but the pattern of plant growth

is unfortunately a moving target. The growth pattern of vegetation often changes naturally from year-to-year,

and in the wake of an herbicidal spraying, muck scraping or hurricane, the change can be dramatic. In any event,

areas of charted vegetation are not without value, because lake areas that support prolific vegetation are usually areas

of desirable bottom content. Still and all, “cover” is a component of the Field Survey, because you need to be

physically onsite to accurately evaluate the cover at each trial site, which again is a stable entity.

The goal of the Chart Survey is to preselect trial sites that offer “year-round” habitation based on bottom contour.

Although largemouth bass may be found throughout the entire body of water, there are “sweet spots” in every ecosystem

that enjoy superior population density and superior habitat for trophy fish. To support bass “year-round”, the best

holding sites afford a broad shallow flat adjacent to a steep slope into deeper water. A shallow flat is recognized by

diverging contour lines in shallow water, which provides the bedding flat, nursery ground and food shelf. A sharp slope

is identified by converging depth lines, which provides the shortest distance to deep water. Ironically, telemetry studies

have shown that largemouth bass living in natural lakes, rarely if ever exceed the depth of the outer weed-line.

It’s my opinion that the value of the slope beyond the outer weed-line is purely mechanical. That is to say,

the movement of bass on the food shelf is limited by the outside edge of deepest plant growth, causing a natural build-up

of game fish. The depth drop-off beyond the outer weed-line serves as a wedge that funnels forage from deeper water

onto the food shelf, giving game fish another reason to gravitate to the outer weed-line

The actual depth of the outer weed-line depends on the plant species, water clarity, soil content and available nutrition.

Crudely speaking, the key vegetation in northern Florida tends to be lily “pads”, in central Florida it’s “hydrilla”

and in southern Florida it’s “sawgrass & reeds”. The depth of the outer weed-line represents the pivot point

of the Chart Survey, but this presents a dilemma because the weed-line can only be confirmed onsite,

during the Field Survey. Until such time, it’ll have to be based on an educated guess or by phoning

area fish camps and sport shops. In a manmade reservoir, bass are forced to use water depth and manmade structures

as a substitute for suitable plant growth. Nevertheless, in natural lakes and manmade impoundments,

the steeper and deeper the drop-off beyond the outer weed-line the more promising the trial site.

FIELD SURVEY

Implementing the Field Survey will generally consume the better part of a day. The first step at each waypoint

is to evaluate the “cover”. Any trial site that lacks acceptable cover must be unceremoniously rejected.

For this reason, it’s wise to establish about two-dozen waypoints so you’ll end up with at least a dozen holding sites.

Of course, there’ll also be times when two-dozen trial sites will yield two-dozen holding sites. Once desirable cover

has been confirmed, the trial site becomes a “holding site”, even before the first fish is caught. Any spot endowed

with both favorable bottom contour and desirable cover is a “sweet spot”. Not every sweet spot is characterized by

a high catch-rate, especially those that are home to one or more trophy fish. On the downside, “bottom-up” angling

may not be the best approach for tournament fishing, where top-down angling (running-&-gunning) has proven its mettle.

On the upside, the best holding sites usually exhibit insatiable recruitment, where bass removed from the site,

create a vacuum that is subsequently reoccupied.

Bass undergo seasonal shifts in location, but on a year-round proper in a natural lake, this will only amount

to a minor lateral shift and minor depth change. The area involved in a self-sufficient holding site depends on

the distance between the nursery (depth zone between the shoreline and 2-foot contour line) and the outer weed-line

(can range between 4 and 16 feet). A drop-off that plummets into the abyss is not a necessity, but is certainly

a distinct enhancement. Though bass may never physically enter the deepest water, it may be indirectly responsible for

their presence a hundred yards away. This is especially true for feature-deprived, saucer-shaped natural lakes,

where deepwater forage may be confined to basin areas.

Reading the growth configurations of aquatic vegetation is an infinite learning process…the more I learn,

the stupider I was. A merger of different plants is a distinct asset, albeit well picked over.

Anglers seem most attracted to points of vegetation and points of land. Mechanically speaking though,

“points” tend to separate, while “pockets” tend to congregate. The same principle applies to contour analysis,

where contour lines that form a female pocket are generally more productive than contour lines forming a male point

(be they submergent or emergent). The exception is during windy conditions, when points of vegetation offer both

a windward and leeward edge, unless of course the wind is blowing directly at the apex. Dense cover produces dense shade,

which is a welcome asset during periods of high light-levels (e.g. cold-front, midday, midsummer).

Not without a glitch, dense cover also inhibits the field of view and maneuverability of bass.

For this reason, bass in solid dense weeds will rarely penetrate more than six feet behind the weed-line perimeter.

In stark contrast, pockets and alleys in the weeds are like bass magnets. Broken, patchy weed growth is more productive

than solid beds of dense weeds, wherever dense vegetation reaches the surface. Patches of dense cover provides a maze

of open pockets and alleys that offer bass a superior field of view and maneuverability. Additionally,

broken, irregular weed-beds constitute greater perimeter lineage than a single wall of weeds.

Vegetation that reaches or breaks the surface such as spatterdock, bulrushes and maidencane are usually most productive

with about 60% density (60 plant / 40 water), but like most fishing tenets, this certainly isn’t carved in stone.

Key vegetation varies from lake-to-lake and even from year-to-year on the same lake. As noted above, the transition

in plant growth may be greatly expedited by herbicidal sprayings, muck scrapings and hurricanes. On balance,

the key plant in Lake Monroe and the St Johns River is “eelgrass”; in Lake Walk-In-Water it’s “bulrushes”;

in Lake Hatchineha it’s “cattails” (now mostly gone); in middle Crooked Lake it’s “pondweed” (locally called peppergrass)

and in Rodman Reservoir and the Stick Marsh (both manmade impoundments) it’s “stumps”. In the shallow areas of Lake Kissimmee,

like Jacks Slough, the vegetation is dominated by spatterdock, lotus and waterlilies; in mid-depth areas it’s “maidencane”,

and in the deepest stretches it’s “hydrilla”.

After the cover has been evaluated at the waypoint, the next and final step is to pinpoint the steepest available gradient,

ideally adjoining the cover. Pinpointing the best declivity can be very time-consuming, but is time well spent.

It usually means snaking the contour lines and running parallel and perpendicular to them. In many cases,

you will find bold discrepancies between GPS cartography and the real world (from Florida to Canada).

While scrutinizing the sonar screen, we’re looking for any projection that reduces the depth and any depression

that increases the depth. It’s not important whether it’s a projection or a depression in the bottom; all that matters

is the “rate” and “range” of depth change. Sunken islands, ditches, bars, holes, ridges, channels and points may all

be treated the same. To appreciate that statement, visualize a symmetrical sawtooth bottom with alternating crests & troughs.

In this scenario, it would be impossible for a fish to know whether it was on the edge of a ridge or on the edge of a channel,

nor does it matter. In my view at least, game fish only relate to the “slope”, which is to say, rapid depth change.

In an idyllic situation, the break-line of the drop-off would coincide with the depth of the outer weed-line but this is certainly is not necessary.

WAYPOINT EXAMPLE

A spot I dubbed “Grape Point”, lies in the south end of the lake just north of Grape Hammock.

Grape Cove>

The Navionics map differs enormously from the Garmin map; but we’ll refer to the US Recreational Lake, East v5,

so we’re both on the same page. This site is very deceiving because it’s pictured on the chart as a land-point,

but in the field it’s portrayed by a small cove. In the field, the outline of the lake is shrouded by vegetation,

which is commonplace in the Big-K. Nevertheless it’s the macro-view displayed on the GPS chart that initializes

the field survey. Indeed, contour analysis is not an exact science, but it doesn’t hurt to handle it as though it is.

Chart Survey

In Lake Kissimmee, the single-most powerful contour (structure) is the main river channel.

Only the last 1¼ miles of the channel is highly defined, as the definition to the north is significantly reduced.

Grape Point lies at the beginning of high-definition channel, the one feature best depicted by the Navionics map.

You’ll also notice that Grape Point on the west shore in conjunction with Two Palms Point on the east shore

appear like the flippers in a pinball machine. Together these points create the narrowest waist south of Brahma Island.

All things equal, a narrows enjoys slightly enhanced current. Lake Kissimmee is a saucer-shaped natural lake,

but you’ll notice that “Grape Point” offers the best compression in the area, between the 1 and 4-foot contour lines.

Since Grape Point also occurs smack dab in a narrows, and also lies adjacent to the main river channel,

it more than qualifies as a “trial site”.

FIELD SURVEY

Just a short distance inshore of the trial site we promptly encounter desirable cover. In addition to spatterdock,

Grape Point supports emergent cover in the form of hydrilla and Illinois pondweed (Potamogeton illinoensis).

When you sound out the slope that backs up the cover, you find some of the steepest gradient in the area,

we now have our smoking gun. Whether a bass is taken from this spot or not, it's abundantly clear

that it’s a year-round “holding site”.

Roger

Now read it again - this is GOLD.

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The above method is how I came up with most of the locations I gave you for Johns and Harris. If you work the formula backwards and take the points and look at them on a map, it should be obvious why they produced fish. Now take any lake chart, follow RoLo's instructions on identifying trial sites. An additional step I take is to overlay google earth aerial photos to get an idea of emergent vegetation, then I spend the time on the water. I would say about 50% of my trial sites turn out to be holding sites and I have caught fish in 100% of my holding sites at some point through out the year.

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Ok, you are right, you will not find anything useful written on Florida natural bowl lakes. At least I have not been able to in 5 years of searching. If you are fishing in phosphate pits then the deeper water strategies of the upland deep lakes can be useful.

Here is what I have learned about Central Florida Lakes:

1) Spawn Mid December to as late as May depending on the weather - You are looking for water temps above 65 degrees. You will have Pre, Spawing, and Post in the same area at the same time. I pick specific areas with satelite photos/navionics map and start picking it apart from the first outside grass line and work all the way to the bank. (Look up RoLo's posts and read everything he has ever written about cartography - he taught me how to find fish on paper)

2) Dog days of Summer are June thru September. If your lake of choice has deep holes or running water then a trap or crankbait it the way to go. If not then the only rod you need is a flipping stick and flip the thickest nastiest crap you can find.

3) October and Novemeber - the water temps are finally back out of the upper 80s and the fish are more agressive and the fishing gets fun.

If you have specific questions about certain lakes just let me know.

Perfectly correct.

Floridians don't like cold and neither do Florida bass.

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I agree with all of the above but one of the best fisherman in Florida once told me, "Remember they dont read the same books we do" What does RoLo stand for, thats about the most indepth article about Florida water iv ever seen.

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Excellent read.

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I agree with all of the above but one of the best fisherman in Florida once told me, "Remember they dont read the same books we do" What does RoLo stand for, thats about the most indepth article about Florida water iv ever seen.

RoLo stands for Roger & Lois. Lois is Rogers wife & fishing partner.

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Excellent read thanks for sharing that Lee. I will apply that to all my future fishing trips. I downloaded Navionics for my iPhone as an APP they offer and one things for sure that is an amazing program! Now I just need how to read the charts a little better. I'll ask questions about that when I get to a computer tonight. Thanks again. - Ricky

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All I can say is "wow". I've read that about 5 times and keep finding neat things. That is what I think and I think it is compatible with Roger's thesis: Florida Bowl Lakes don't have much in the way of "structure", as it is classically defined. The outer vegetation edge, which is technically "cover" serves the same purpose as a structural edge. I don't know why it is where it is but I know there is a reason and whatever the reason, the fish relate to that difference by holding either "outside", "inside the outside", "outside the inside" and 'the inside". I know that may sound a little screwy to some but I am sure most of the Lake O guys here know what I mean. In any given time period, you need to understand where they are congregated relative to those positions, but mostly the outside edge. there can be seasonal variations and aberration such as the Spoil Islands in summer etc. Of course, not all the fish are doing the same thing at the same time. The smoothness of our seasons cause for example, the spawn to be drawn out as much as 4-5 months. This is why it can be a good practice to fish natural gateways to the obvious spawn flats as you can get both the pre-s and the post-s coming and going. Now I am going to reread it again to get even more good insights

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Alright I have Navionics for my cell phone however I am no expert when it comes to reading cartography. I have takes a map off of google earth as well as the Navionics maps so we can use for a comparison.

photo5-4.png

Example one:

Pictured is a major point on a lake that is part of the Harris Chain ..

photo6-3.pngphoto-8.png

Notice how there seems to be a greenish outline that surrounds the point on the google map.

Question 1:

I am assuming this is vegetation of some sort?

Question 2: Looking at the navionics map there is a dark blue that borders the point.

Am I correct in assuming the dark blue means that the water is shallower than 5 feet?

Question 3:

Notice how on the right side of this point there are black squiggly lines.. When the black squiggly lines are closer together does this mean that the depth change is steep?

I am assuming the closer the black squiggly lines the faster steeper/quicker there is a depth change??

Question 4:

Notice the white island to the right of the point? Does the white mean that that is the deepest parts of the lake or are there just white spots once the water exceeds a certain depth?

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1. If this is a fairly clear lake I would say that is a sandy bottom and your are getting some light reflected off the bottom.

2. Most likely means they don't have cartography for this area. It would be safe to assume it is less than 5 feet deep.

3. Yes. The black lines are called contour lines. The closer together, the steeper the slope.

4 Looks like this map has everything over 18' in white, everything under 5' in darker blue. It can be different on any map but in general it allows you to get a "quick" idea of the water depths.

5. My first "trial site" is on the left side of the tip of the point where you have a rapid compression from the 11' ft contour line to the 6' contour line.

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On Okeechobee this theory is even more exaggerated as to a drop off or change can be 5 inches, Big O is about as void of TOPO lines as a lake can get, however....

When the lake is low we actually will catch fish on the lines, one single line depicting about a 6" to 1' foot very gradual drop.

Its amazing how they relate to the bottom.

The only wrench in these gears are bait fish, if baitfish are in 5 inces of water in August the bass will be there, drop offs or no drop offs.

But what do I know I sunk my boat :cry3:

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On Okeechobee this theory is even more exaggerated as to a drop off or change can be 5 inches, Big O is about as void of TOPO lines as a lake can get, however....

When the lake is low we actually will catch fish on the lines, one single line depicting about a 6" to 1' foot very gradual drop.

Its amazing how they relate to the bottom.

The only wrench in these gears are bait fish, if baitfish are in 5 inces of water in August the bass will be there, drop offs or no drop offs.

But what do I know I sunk my boat :cry3:

I agree. With low water, TOPO can come into play, especially along the channels.

IMHO, Bait fish location and clean water is probably the most important criteria I look for on the lake.

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I agree. With low water, TOPO can come into play, especially along the channels.

IMHO, Bait fish location and clean water is probably the most important criteria I look for on the lake.

That's lesson two for our young padiwan.

Say you are going to fish Kissimmee this weekend for the first time. You have done your chart work, found trial sites, and are ready to go.

Here are several other things to cloud your brain with:

1) What is the wind doing? The wind has been blowing hard (10 -25 mph) out of the WSW for days now, but it is changing to ENE by Saturday. This means that the eastern shores have taken a beating and will look like chocolate milk. I will not even bother with the east shores this weekend. Instead, focus on your western shore locations where the water will be clean.

As a side note, the sudden wind switch from the south to the north you will get a small current just based on wind. With a forecast of rain on Saturday night there should be significant current particularly on the north end at the river channel on Sunday. Moving water will make the fish more active.

2) Where is the bait? As I said in my first post, I start on the outside and work my way all the way to the hard bank. At some point you should run across bait fish. If not, bail and run to your next spot. One thing to pay attention to is the birds. The presence of Herons and Egrets will tell you that the bait is there. Coots tell you where the submerged hydrilla is. Learn to identify the wildlife and your life gets easier. One other thing, coots can only fly about 45 mph. Slow down when you approach a flock or you will have one in your teeth.

3) Don't listen to anything gar-tracker says. He can't even keep his boat floating. :laugh5:

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One other thing, coots can only fly about 45 mph. Slow down when you approach a flock or you will have one in your teeth.

Please elaborate, PLEASE. I know there has to a real life story to this :laugh5:

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