Patterning Bass Basics
Before each fishing trip begins experienced bass fishermen predict which patterns have the best chance of working.
As soon as they are on the lake these bass fishermen begin the fishing day by trying to pattern the bass based on their earlier predictions. And they continue to experiment until they have developed a workable pattern.
Otherwise, their fishing trip is a failure. What do we mean by patterning? What is it these experienced bass fishermen are trying to do?
Nothing mysterious. Before they left home they were trying to predict how bass would be caught, and as soon as they were on the lake, they went to work at determining how fish can best be caught. In a word they were developing fishing patterns. Perhaps the best way to explain patterning is by way of an example.
Assume we are fishing in shallow, quality waters that have lots of vegetation, stumps, lay-downs, treetops, and the like — a place that looks bassy everywhere you turn. No matter where you look, you are looking at potentially productive fishing waters. We start our fishing by going down a bank throwing spinner baits at the cover along the bank.
Suddenly, we catch our first fish. It came from the shaded side of a lay-down log. We continue fishing down that shore and the next fish we catch also came from the shaded side of a lay-down log. Eureka! We have a pattern.
At this point we discontinue tossing at all available structure; instead, we concentrate on the shadowed side of lay-down logs, and we continue to catch fish. We have established a pattern and we are fishing it.
Each fishing day should consist of activities designed to develop a pattern. Then, when we have a pattern, we fish the pattern as long as it holds.
When the pattern fails, we repeat the process. We search for a new pattern, we fish the new pattern until it runs out, we search for another pattern and we fish the third pattern until it runs out.
The concept is simple. In this lesson we discuss efficient ways of developing patterns.
Begin by considering the water temperature
If there is a secret to predicting bass activities, it is water temperature. Water temperature effects bass every minute of their lives, and it effects them in quite predictable ways. Given a chance, a bass would prefer to live in 72-degree water.
If the water is warmer than this, they will seek the coolest water available that meets their needs. When the water is colder than 72 degrees, they seek the warmest water they can live in.
But temperature is by no means the whole story. Bass will only be found where there is food, oxygen, and cover. In other words, if we can find a water temperature that a bass prefers, and if there is food, oxygenated water, and cover in these waters, the bass will be there, you can count on it.
This is the first step in developing a pattern. When we are fishing, we are constantly watching the surface temperature. And we are also watching for evidence that baitfish are in the area.
We move, or change our fishing technique, based on water temperature and the presence or absence of baitfish. Here is a fancy word for our wildlife vocabulary: Ectotherm. An ectotherm animal is any animal whose body temperature adjusts to its external environment. A snake is an ectotherm, so is a frog, a turtle, and a bass.
As the water cools everything that goes on inside these creatures slows down. For example, in cooler water it takes a bass considerably longer to digest its food, and as a consequence, the bass goes longer between meals.
Bass begin each calendar year in an extremely lethargic, semi-dormant state. In January’s cold water they semi-hibernate. Then, as the water gradually warms, they become more active. A bass can sense minute changes in water temperatures. This is the second pattern we try to develop for pre-spawn bass.
If the water is reasonably clear I will be throwing suspending Rogues, jigs-and-pigs, grubs, or Gitzits.
In dingy water we will be throwing spinnerbaits, crayfish colored crankbaits, lizards and worms. When the water temperature passes through 60 degrees, the bass start preparing to spawn, and when it reaches 65 degrees, the bass will be full spawn.