Understanding Bass Part I

Understanding Bass Part I Bass need food, oxygen and cover to survive. We talk about these key factors to help you become a better angler.


Understanding bass

Bass fishing is a sport, like many others, in which understanding the opponent allows one to become more successful. You may compare it to deer hunting: the more the hunter understands the scrapes, trails, food areas, water areas, runs, and habitats of the deer the more successful the hunter will become at locating them. The same is true with Bass fishing (Bass angling), the more you understand the Bass along with the many different circumstances and conditions you run across the more successful you will be at catching them. So let's talk about a few key factors when it comes to a better understanding of the bass.
   The first one we will look at would be the survival of the bass. A bass needs food, oxygen and cover to survive. If any one of these three elements are not present in a body of water a bass could not survive; and just by knowing why these three elements are so important for survival will already start to make you a more successful angler.


Contrary to popular belief, shad is NOT the primary first choice of a bass. Although shad is a very common food for the bass as well as other natural baits, the number one food choice of a bass is a crawfish (also known as crayfish, crawdads, etc.). A study was performed several years ago where one hundred crawfish and one hundred shad were in a tank of water with all species of bass (Smallmouth, Spotted, and Largemouth). To much surprise, the crawfish were eaten 8 to 2 over the shad. There are several reasons for this, but the most important is that crawfish are easy prey for bass to find and catch. And once again contrary to popular belief, studies show that there are actually more crawfish found in vegetation areas than around rocky areas (or as some may know as Rip-Rap.)
   A bass will eat just about anything at any given time. These include rats, mice, ducklings, frogs, snakes, salamanders, worms, lizards, grubs, baitfish, insects, leeches, and more. Is it any wonder why all the many different tackle manufacturing companies have so many different shapes and types of artificial baits on the market today? But, there are certain types of artificial baits that bass usually prefer over the others, and a lot of these I cover at my 3-day Bass Fishing School.


Oxygen is an element that all living creatures need to survive. By knowing water oxygen content in various areas an angler will develop a better understanding why a bass acts the way it does under many different conditions. When a bass has a limited supply of oxygen, it tends to get more disoriented and much slower or lethargic. The "Key" in understanding oxygen levels in water is the cooler the water the more oxygen content, and the warmer the water the less oxygen content. The more oxygen a bass can get the more active it will be. During the summer when the water temperature hits the 80-degree mark or higher, the oxygen level in the water will start to diminish.
   How does this relate to bass fishing? Bass will usually do one of two things in a low oxygen situation. They will drop down (usually under the thermocline mark) to water that is cooler for a larger supply of oxygen, or they will head for vegetation areas because of the constant supply of oxygen that aquatic plants provide. This is mostly the case during the spring, summer, and early fall.
Here are some areas where ample supplies of oxygen can be found during these seasons:

  1. Rivers - because of the constant flowing of water.
  2. Mouths of Creeks - again, because of the constant in-flow of fresh water.
  3. Deep water areas - remember deeper, cooler water has a better supply of oxygen.
  4. Vegetation areas - aquatic plants are constant oxygen producers.
  5. Around trees, stump, & log areas - Porous wood holds oxygen.
  6. Power Plants - because of the constant discharge of oxygenic water.
  7. Wind Blown Banks - a constant oxygen source.

and there are many others........


Cover is an extremely important element when it comes to bass fishing. A bass, being known mostly as an "Ambush Fish", will use cover and structure such as vegetation, rocks, stumps, trees, falldowns, docks, ledges and holes to dart out after prey. A bass really is a lazy-by-nature type of fish and will expend the least amount of energy for the greatest amount of benefit. Bass are also known as a territorial fish and will not travel a great amount of distance.
   Understanding a bit more about cover and why a bass will usually be found around it should help you "Key-In" when it comes to "Blue Bird Skies" (high pressure periods) and "Overcast or Cloudy Days" (low pressure periods). Active, feeding bass will always be in and around cover.
   I teach my students at my 3-day Bass Fishing School a much more in-depth study about the understanding of a bass during the different seasons, daily conditions, weather fronts, etc. and how they would put a pattern together under many different circumstances. I hope this article will help you with a better understanding of a bass to become a more successful angler.
   Until next time.....Take Care & God Bless!

Continue on to Understanding Bass Part-2

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