GENERAL FACTS ABOUT BASS LOCATION: Bass are cold blooded creatures, meaning that their body temperature is directly related to the temperature of the water in which they swim. Thus the temperature of the water can have a great deal of impact on where bass will be and how active they are on any given day. In general, bass in most lakes and reservoirs are most active when the water ranges from approximately 60 to 85 degrees. Bass will be less active in colder or warmer water. In cold weather, bass will usually seek out the warmest water they can find, provided they don’t have to move too far to find it. The amount of cover ( weeds, rocks, submerged wood, etc. ) that exists in the water varies dramatically from one lake to the next. Some lakes are full of weeds, others have acres of standing timber, still others appear barren, with little visible cover at all. The amount, location and type of cover available to the bass will also help determine its location at any given time during the year. Cover is not as important to smallmouth bass as it is to largemouths, and is important to spotted bass only at certain times of the year. Perhaps most important, the bass is driven to new locations throughout the four seasons by its need for food and procreation. Bass will move to certain areas for spawning. Other areas may better serve their forage needs. Bass do not migrate in the same sense that waterfowl do. An individual bass may not move a great distance during the course of the year; rather, bass try to locate in areas where all their seasonal needs can be met without traveling long distances. Some species of bass inhabit different depth zones than others. Largemouth bass, in most bodies of water, are shallow water creatures much of the year. Smallmouth bass spend most of their time deeper than largemouths. Spotted bass have been tracked at depths of 100 feet, but will also inhabit shallow water during the course of the year.
SEASONAL LARGEMOUTH BASS LOCATION: Winter. In most bodies of water, the largemouth bass will locate near the deepest parts of the lake, but usually not in extremely deep water. Many bass will navigate to the main lake and hold around bluffs, channel ledges and channel banks, and the ends and sides of deeper points. Food is not a tremendous factor driving largemouth bass location during the winter months; bass consume far less forage in cold water than in warm water, and digestion takes much longer as well. Finding the warmest possible water can be a major key to largemouth location now. Early Spring. The slowly rising temperature of the water and the lengthening daylight period are cues to largemouth bass that they should begin moving shallower. Look for ditches, channel banks, stump or fencerows and other structures leading from deep to shallow water in the prespawn period; these serve as pathways along which bass make a move to their spring locations. Largemouths seldom stay in shallow water for extended lengths of time in early spring; rather they hold where deep and shallow water meet and make short feeding forays into shallower areas. Breaklines are critical structures during the prespawn period; here largemouths have access to both deep and shallow water only a few feet apart. By locating over a breakline, a dropoff at the end of a big flat from 25 to 8 feet in depth, the bass can hold in deep water when less active and travel up into the shallows to feed. Determining the timing of these short, infrequent feeding movements is critical to fishing success; check them several times throughout the course of the day. Spring Spawn. Largemouth bass prefer to spawn in shallow water. They often bed in coves and tributaries protected from the chilling effects of a harsh north wind. The nest will usually be no deeper than the depth at which sunlight can penetrate to incubate the eggs; this is seldom deeper than 4 feet. Bass like a hard bottom condition for spawning, as opposed to mud or silt. But these fish are highly adaptable, they have been known to spawn in the tops of submerged stumps and on old tires. Post Spawn. After spawning, many largemouth bass reverse their movements along ditches, channel banks and other migration routes and move back out to deeper channel structures. However, if there is sufficient cover in shallow water, they may not move far and may stay quite close to their spawning grounds for extended periods. Summer. Convex structure: humps, rockpiles, saddles and the like is a major key to largemouth location in summer. Bass will locate on these structures and tend to move shallow or deeper on them as their mood dictates. Many largemouths will move into shallower water at night to feed. In reservoirs without much current movement, stratification occurs in hot weather. Lower layers of the lake may be poor in dissolved oxygen. any flow, however insignificant, can increase dissolved oxygen levels and stack up largemouth bass; check for schools to be holding around channel drop offs and ledges. Fall. Largemouths tend to follow their forage more in the fall than in other months, which can make them hard to locate. Rather than relating to structural breaklines or objects, they may be out in open water, chasing big schools of shad. Largemouth bass binge feed in the fall. Food is plentiful and they take advantage of the best feeding opportunities. Often small, scattered groups of bass suspend offshore or hold at the ends of long mainlake points waiting for the right opportunity to bust a big school of baitfish. These feeding binges often occur 2 or 3 times a day at scattered intervals.