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Understanding Bass - Part 1
by "The Bass Coach" Roger Lee Brown

Bass fishing is a sport like many others. It is often the knowledge and the understanding of the opponent that allows one to become more successful. You may look at it like deer hunting, in that the more the hunter understands the scrapes, trails, food areas, water areas, runs, and habitats of the deer, then the more successful the hunter will become at locating the quarry. The same is true with bass fishing. The more you understand the bass along with the many different circumstances and conditions you run across, then the more successful you will be at catching them. So letís talk about a few key factors when it comes to a better understanding of the bass, okay?

Overall, let's talk in terms of understanding what's required for the survival of the bass. A bass needs three elements to survive, which are :

  1. Food
  2. Oxygen
  3. Cover

A bass could not survive if any one of these three elements are not present in a body of water, and just by knowing why these three elements are so important for a bassís survival it will already start to make you a more successful angler.

1) Food. The first element we will talk about is food. A bass will eat just about anything at any given time: 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?

Contrary to popular belief, shad is NOT the primary first choice of a bass. Although shad is a very common food for the bass as well as other natural baits, the number one 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 put in a tank of water with all species of bass (smallmouth, spotted, and largemouth). To much surprise, the crawfish were eaten in a ratio of 4 to 1 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 naturally rocky areas or man-made "rip rap".

2.) Oxygen. The next element of the three oxygen, an element that all living creatures need to survive, including bass. Pay attention to oxygen in the water. 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 flip side, 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 towards 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 production of oxygen that aquatic plants naturally provide. This is mostly the case during late spring, summer, and early fall.

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

  1. Rivers: Because of the constant flowing of the water.
  2. Creek mouths: Create a constant inflow of fresh water.
  3. Deep water areas: Deeper, cooler water can have a better supply of oxygen
  4. Vegetation areas: constant oxygen producing aquatic plants.
  5. Areas of trees, stumps, and logs: The porous wood will hold oxygen
  6. Power plants: Create a constant discharge of oxygenic water
  7. Wind-blown banks: Create a constant oxygen source

and there are many others...

3.) Cover. 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 here now.

One of these reasons would be for concealment. A bass, being known mostly as an "ambush feeder" will use cover such as vegetation, rocks, stumps, trees, fall-downs, docks, structures, holes, dart out after itís 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 outside of their chosen cover at any given moment.

Another reason bass may need cover is because of itís eyes. A bass does not have eye lids like you or I. As I understand it, given prolonged exposure to the sunís rays, a bass will eventually go blind. So cover is one of Godís way of protecting their sight. Take notice next time you see a bass fishing show on television, you will usually see bass being caught in shaded areas in and around cover areas.

I hope this article will help you begin to get a better understanding of a bass to become a more successful angler. If you have any questions, please feel welcome to contact me at the email address provided below. And by the way, with the extra instruction time that it provides, I give my students at my 3-day Bass Fishing School a much more in-depth tutelage of the understanding of a bass during the different seasons, daily conditions, weather fronts, etc. and how they would put a pattern together under many different circumstances. Until Next Time! Take Care & God Bless!

"The Bass Coach".... Roger Lee Brown

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