John's Journal...


Using Aerial Reconnaissance

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.

Click to enlargeOne of the most-effective techniques for learning how to fish a new lake that has been developed is aerial reconnaissance, which is a common practice of tournament pros. Many weekend fishermen believe that aerial reconnaissance will save them hours and dollars in their attempts to learn how to fish a new lake.

Once you have gathered the information already discussed this week -- where the fish should be, the depth of water they should be in, the type of structure they should be holding on, the kind of weather you should be fishing, the clarity of the water, whether the lake is rising or falling and the areas of the lake that you should be fishing - then to further insure success and save time and money, rent an airplane and a pilot, and fly over the lake. While you are over the lake, keep the lake map in your lap and a pencil in your hand. From the air, you will be able to spot the subtle changes in water clarity that will be difficult to define from a boat while you are running the lake; you will be able to see how far out in the water long points come, which way they turn and how they drop off; and you quickly and easily will be able to observe where the brush areas, the boat docks and all the cover in the lake. Also noting the GPS coordinates for sites you see that you want to fish later is very important to bass-fishing success on a new lake.

Click to enlarge"Because of aerial reconnaissance, I was able to win the several big tournaments," Rick Clunn remembers. "I located an area down the lake where there were cedar trees under the water. The water was so clear that I could actually watch the bass holding in the trees. On the last day of the tournament I made a big gamble and ran to the area - which was a good distance away - where I had seen the bass from the air. The fish were still there. I caught them and won the tournament."

Although the money to rent a small plane and a pilot seems an expensive expenditure, if two anglers split the cost and fly together, usually the trip will be much cheaper than if those same two anglers put gas in a bass boat and spend a day running up and down the lake trying to learn it. In an hour to 1-1/2-hours above the lake in an airplane, a sportsman often can learn more then he will have learned in a week running a boat. Have you ever wondered how the bass-fishing professionals can come onto a lake and in a tournament find and catch more bass than the local fishermen do? Click to enlargeMany times they will locate new areas to catch bass that the local fishermen haven't discovered. Often they will be highly successful in a very short time on a new lake. They are successful because they do all their homework and gather the information needed before they arrive at the lake. Then once the pros are on the water, they concentrate their fishing time on the water that their research has told them should be the most productive. You too can be much more successful when you fish a new body of water if you use these time-tested techniques for learning the lake before you arrive at it.

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 5