John's Journal...


Learning Seasonal Migration Patterns and Narrowing the Lake

Click to enlargeEDITOR'S NOTE: According to Rick Clunn of Missouri, four-time Bassmasters Classic winner and the newly-named best bass fisherman of all time by bass fishing fans across the world, "How to fish a new lake is one of the most-common questions asked by anglers.” “I particularly hear this question when I'm giving seminars. I never remember having a seminar where someone didn't ask me how to fish a new lake," Ken Cook of Meers, Oklahoma, former fisheries biologist, Megabucks tournament winner and Bassmasters Classic Champion in 1991, told me. "If I had to pick one question I can bet on being asked at any seminar I go to, it is about how to fish a new lake," Larry Nixon of Bee Branch, Arkansas, former winner of the Bassmasters Classic, told me. Apparently everyone is seeking the answer to the same question. But one question that always should precede how to fish a new lake is, "What information should I have about a lake before I go to fish it?" If you have the proper knowledge about a lake before you arrive at a lake, then your chances of successfully catching bass will be far greater.

Bass do the same thing each year. During the winter, they move out to the deep creek channels and river channels and hold on cover in deep water. In the pre-spawn, the bass will begin to move up the creek channels into some of the Click to enlargefeeder creeks or along the ditches that will head to the spawning grounds. Just prior to the spawn, they will begin to move on to the points and shallow flats. During the spawn, they will move in to the shallow water, and after the spawn they generally follow the same retreat back to deep water. Bass also hunt water temperature that is comfortable. They can't go deeper than the oxygen level in the lake. They will follow the baitfish. To begin your research on a new lake, you must decide where the bass will be on their annual migration pattern during the time of the year you’ll be fishing.

If you don't know this information, you can obtain it in two places. First, call the local tackle store closest to the lake. The tackle store owner makes his living from successful fishermen. If he tells you where the bass should be, and you fish that type of water and catch bass, then more than likely you will buy your tackle from him and rely on his judgment. The second way to be informed about where the bass are is to contact the fisheries biologists in the Fisheries Section of your state department of conservation. These biologists have a wealth of knowledge that often goes untapped. There will probably be a district biologist in the area where you want to angle, who Click to enlargecan accurately pinpoint where the bass should be during the time you plan to fish. Once you obtain this information, you have narrowed your fishing water down from a lake that contains thousands of acres to the areas in that lake where the bass should be at the time of year that you plan to fish.

Narrowing The Lake Down:

Now that you know what type of water the bass should be in at the time of year you will be fishing, pinpointing those regions so you will know exactly where to fish is very important. You'll need a topo map of the lake and a good lake map. If the bass are on creek channels or river channels, a topo map should show you where those creek and river channels are. If the bass are holding on points, you can find these points on the topo map. But if the bass are in shallow-water, you must locate the shallow water structure that should be holding the fish to be successful. For example, sometimes bass will hold on buck brush in a lake, Click to enlargemilfoil, blown-down trees and/or shallow grass flats. This information may be most accurate coming from the fisheries biologist or the tackle store owner. If the fish are in shallow water, you can eliminate the creek and river channels. If the bass are in deep water, you may want to eliminate the shallow-water areas by studying a topo map. As the time draws closer for the trip, lake conditions become a critically important part of your research.


Check back each day this week for more about WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT A LAKE BEFORE YOU GET THERE

Day 1: Why Fish A New Lake?
Day 2: Learning Seasonal Migration Patterns and Narrowing the Lake
Day 3: Rising or Falling? The Lake's Water Situation
Day 4: Knowing How Deep The Bass Go And Where They Don't Go
Day 5: Using Aerial Reconnaissance



Entry 313, Day 2