John's Journal...


Call the Lake and Learn the Conditions

Click to enlargeEDITOR'S NOTE: Have you ever wondered why bass angling professionals can come to a lake they've never fished before, compete for three days, and catch more and bigger bass than the anglers who live on the lake? Actually the reason is simple. Most of the work of locating the fish is done prior to these professionals' coming to the lake. Many times their preparation for the tournament may have taken place months before the actual contest. They also have another advantage that fishermen who angle the same lake every weekend don't have, because these pros don't have honey holes, favorite spots or places to go to where they've caught bass in the past. So they must rely on their own ability to find the fish on the lake where the bass should be when the fish are supposed to be there - without any pre-conceived ideas about where the bass are.

Usually the best source of information on a lake about whether or not bass are biting is a marina operator. Notice I didn't say whether or not people are catching fish, which is information that isn't important to a good angler. But if the marina operator says that the bass just aren't biting, that tells you that...

Click to enlarge... you can expect to have fewer strikes in a day,
... you'll have to fish harder,
... you'll have to fish slower,
... you'll have to try and land every fish that bites your bait and
... you must target fish, which means choosing certain banks, types of structure, and drop-offs and fishing those areas thoroughly.

If the marina operator tells you that the bass are biting like crazy, everyone is catching fish, and the bass are hitting almost any lure anglers throw, then you know that...

... the fish are active or have been active,
... you can cover a vast expanse of water,
... you can fish your baits faster, and
... you can utilize draw baits to draw the bass out and away from the cover rather than having to fish brush baits like the pig and jig, the plastic worm and other baits that penetrate cover.

Click to enlargeThe last thing you need to know before you travel to a lake to fish is whether the lake is rising or falling, clear or stained. Clear and/or stained are relative terms that mean different things to different people on various lakes. What is stained water on one lake may be considered clear water on another.

Also from the marina operator you can find out whether the lake is clear or stained and rising or falling. If the lake is falling, then you know that the fish will be positioned on the structure facing away from the bank toward open water. Therefore you'll probably need a softer lure presentation, since the bass will be far more skittish than usual. If the lake is rising, then you know that the bass should be looking toward the bank where their food should come from, that they should be more active, and that the lure presentation doesn't have to be as light as it must be when the lake is falling. And when the lake has been stable, then the bass should be where bass normally are in that lake at a specific time of the year.

Click to enlargeTo be successful, an angler also needs to determine what time of day the current begins to run in that lake, and if the lake is used for hydroelectric power. If current is pulled through the lake at certain hours of the day, then bass are accustomed to feeding when that current causes the baitfish to move. Usually when current stirs in a lake, the bass will feed. So learning when that current starts to run can help you anticipate when and where you should be able to take bass.


Check back each day this week for more about HOW TO SCOUT FOR BASS

Day 1: Time of Year and Maps
Day 2: An Aerial Look
Day 3: The Weather
Day 4: Call the Lake and Learn the Conditions
Day 5: The Types of Bass Present in a Lake



Entry 307, Day 4