Occasionally, we receive calls from folks who report something happened to their fish. They can’t catch them. First thought is a cormorant (water turkey) or otter invasion. The last thing we expect to see–is what we see.
We anxiously electrofish the lake looking for clues. Soon, numerous quality bass start appearing. Soon the live well reaches capacity. We stop, glance at the live well, and look at the lake owner. The lake owner looks back, shaking their head. Everyone is speechless. Sometimes it’s not a fish issue. Often, it’s a fisherman issue.
Many anglers troll lakes casting to shorelines. That’s good strategy early and late. Other times and seasons, fish seek deeper zones, often in cover not visible from the surface. Fishermen orient to standing timber or brush piles. In numerous occasions, those features are submerged. Fishermen pass right over the top of a big school suspended in open water. Such was the case here. At three different locations, we probed obvious cover with electrofishing equipment. No results. As we departed each spot, approximately 10-15-yards from where fish should have been, they began surfacing. Survey results determined fishermen were casting to expected visible objects on the left. They should have been casting to open water on the right. How many times has that happened to all us?
This story was not intended to be a fishing lesson. We share it to heighten awareness of knowing lake habitat top to bottom. Seen and unseen. We share it to help you think like a fish. Remember the old saying: 90-percent of the fish live in 10-percent of the lake. When building a lake, photograph habitat before the lake fills so you’ll know where to find fish on future outings. If you have no background on an existing lake, consider mapping to discover potential hot spots. We create detailed maps with advanced side-imaging sonar. Call for details.