A Better Understanding of Bass

Bass fishing is a sport like any other. To be successful it takes knowledge. Knowledge and an understanding of the opponent allows you to become successful. Some relate this 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. The same is true with bass fishing, 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.
SURVIVAL: A bass needs three elements to survive:

FOOD
OXYGEN
COVER

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 a bass’s survival it will already start to make you a more successful angler.
The first element we will talk about is FOOD. Contrary to popular belief, shad is not the primary choice of a bass. Although shad is a very common food for the bass as well as other natural baits, the number 1 food choice of a bass is a crawfish (also known as crayfish, crawdads, etc.). A study was performed several years ago where 100 crawfish and 100 shad were in a tank of water with all species of bass (smallmouth, spotted, and largemouth) and too much surprise the crawfish were eaten 8 to 2 over the shad. There are several reasons for this, but the most important one is that a crawfish is an easy prey for a bass to catch, and they are fairly easy for a bass to find. 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 such as: rats, mice, ducklings, frogs, snakes, salamanders, worms, lizards, grubs, baitfish, insects, leeches, etc. 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?

The next element of the three is OXYGEN. Oxygen is an element that any living creature needs to survive. The main reason an angler should pay attention to oxygen is that a bass requires it 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 the 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 the rules of oxygenic water is that the cooler the water, the more oxygen content and on the other side of the coin the warmer the water the less oxygen content. The more oxygen a bass can get usually during the warmer months the more active it will be. Usually during the summer when the water temperature hits the 80 degree mark or higher, the oxygen in the water will start to diminish.

How does this relate to bass fishing? Well, a bass will usually do one of two things in a condition such as this. A bass will drop down (usually under the thermocline mark) to water that is cooler for a larger supply of oxygen, or a bass will usually head for vegetation areas because of the constant producing of oxygen that aquatic plants provide. This is mostly the case during spring, summer, and early fall.

Here are some areas where ample supplies of oxygen can be found during these seasons:

Rivers – because of the constant flowing of the water.
Mouths of Creeks – again, because of the constant in-flow of fresh water.
Deep water areas – remember, the deeper the cooler water a better supply of oxygen.
Vegetation areas – constant oxygen producing aquatic plants.
Around Trees, Stump, & Log areas – because of the porous wood that will hold oxygen.
Power Plants – because of the constant discharge of oxygenic water
Wind Blown Banks – a constant oxygen source and there are many others……..

The third element we will talk about is COVER. Cover is an extremely important element when it comes to a bass for many reasons, and I would like to cover some of the most important ones.
One of these reasons would be for protection. A bass, being known mostly as an “ambush fish” will use cover such as vegetation, rocks, stumps, trees, fall-downs, docks, structures, holes, etc. — to dart out after it’s prey. A bass really is a lazy-by-nature type of fish and will extend 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.
Now, 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 Skys” (high pressure periods) and “Overcast or Cloudy Days” (low pressure periods).
Copyright © 2000 by Jeff Snyder. All rights reserved.

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