Anglers watch hours of fishing shows and read volumes of how to articles to be more successful. How often have you heard one say they sit on a dock or shoreline and observe fish behavior to become a better fisherman?
This point was driven home during a recent electrofishing survey in East Texas. The lake was five-acres. Irregular shoreline created small pockets of diversified habitat. The most prominent feature was a neat island offering more diverse features. Surveys are always big events. This project was special. The ranch is large. We were evaluating 10 lakes. The generous owner shares unlimited outdoor experiences with friends who help maintain valuable fish and wildlife management projects.
As we began surveying, our passenger recommended circling the island. While fishing this pond the previous weekend, he noticed multiple bass striking the surface there. He didn’t have a boat. The island was out of casting distance. As we reached the island, casual chatting ceased, frantic netting began. We quickly collected 33 bass. Size distribution 13 to 23-inches. Largest was seven-pounds with a relative weight of 120-percent. Impressive! Is this story prompting recollection of activity seen at your lake? Don’t take such observations for granted as passing moments. Fish you see are there because they found desirable habitat, a comfortable temperature zone, and/or food. They will homestead that area until conditions change and move them to another spot meeting those needs.
The next memorable experience during this project was a two-acre pond. Normally, it’s closer to four-acres, but drought conditions were taking a toll. The only visible cover was two stick-ups in the middle about 25-yards apart. It was the deep center of the pond, not a place you anticipate finding much. While cruising shorelines sampling more than 1,000 bluegill, we observed movement around the stick-ups. Attempting to practice what we preach, we investigated. It was the honey hole. After continually working the spot 15-minutes, we netted 12 bass. Ten were very chunky females. Nine exceeded 100-percent relative weights. As the pond drew-down, baitfish lost safe havens. Those big bass had been feeding at will. The biologist recommended continued harvest of smaller males to minimize spawning activity and prevent bass overpopulation. He suggested adding more females from other lakes until converting this location to predominantly all girls. By maintaining abundant forage, they would have enhanced opportunities to achieve trophy class.
As water temps warm, early morning and late afternoon are best times to scout and learn fish activity. Keep your rod handy. We’d enjoy hearing about your experience.