BASS MOVEMENTS BASED ON THE TIME OF DAY
By Ken Poor
Fish are creatures of habit and largemouth bass are no exception. Learn where bass are most active during day light hours and it stands to reason that it will help you put more fish in the boat. When you are bass fishing the daytime hours can be divided into three distinct time frames and they are morning, midday and evening. For fishing purposes morning is sunrise to about 10-am, midday is 10-am to 3-pm and evening is from 3-pm to dark.
During the early morning hours, the shallow water action can be exciting and surface baits are your best choice for finding active fish. Buzzbaits or spinnerbaits worked quickly on or just below the surface will allow you to cover lots of water fast. Once you locate active fish you can often improve the action by fine-tuning your presentation. Try varying the speed of your retrieve or switching to a different type of surface lure.
It is not uncommon that for about an hour each morning and again in the evening the wind stops and often times the surface of the lake can be as smooth as glass. During this early morning calm, any lure that can be worked very slowly on the surface, close to cover, such as small poppers, surface plugs, torpedoes or floating minnow imitators can be a great choice.
Shallow water bass are very easy to spook and especially during the early morning calm and in clear water. Stay as far out from the area you plan to fish as is practical so that you don’t disturb it. Make long accurate cast past your target and work your lure back to the spot that you think is holding fish. Drop your lure right on top of a spooky shallow water bass and that bass will be on the other side of the lake before you finish your retrieve.
Typically, about an hour after sunrise the wind will pick-up and how strong it gets will depend on the weather patterns for that particular day. For the angler, a light breeze will create small waves that break up the surface of the lake and your visibility becomes less of a problem in shallow clear water.
As the day progresses, bass will move to cover or deeper water. On lakes with a good amount of shoreline cover, bass will hold tight along the shady sides of weed beds, fallen trees, rocks, stumps and other submerged objects. Work these shallow photo02.jpg shady locations quietly and slowly with a Texas rigged plastic worm. Try to place your bait as close to the cover as possible, but keep in mind bass are easy to spook in shallow water. Cast you lure past the spot that you think holds a bass and slowly work it back to the spot.
Many lakes have landscaped shorelines with little or no natural cover such as logs, trees, brush, and stumps. When shoreline cover is removed from a lake bass move into the weed beds and the piers become trees and stumps to them. Work the deep edges of the weed beds with crankbaits or spinnerbaits. If the plant growth on the surface is not to thick, use a spinnerbait to work the top of the main body of the weed bed.
Often you will find weed beds that are too thick to work with a spinnerbait, and in that situation change to a Texas rigged (weed-less) plastic worm or one of the other types of plastic creatures rigged weedless. The Texas rig can be worked close to the surface or you can add a bullet weight to work open pockets, especially on those days when bass are holding deep in the weed beds. Plastic worms and creatures are also a great choice for working around and under piers.
Crankbaits are a great way to quickly cover lots of water and locate bass when they are holding deep. After you find the bass using a crankbait, you should invest a few minutes checking out the spot with other types of baits. Texas rigged or Carolina rigged plastic worms will often take bass off a spot even when they are ignoring a crankbait.
Start the evening pattern using techniques similar to the midday pattern and end it using morning techniques. If presented correctly any type of plastic worm, crawfish, lizard, frog, fish or grub will all catch fish. Tube jigs, plastic leeches and several other plastic baits may not resemble anything that lives in a lake – but they catch bass and should not be overlooked as good early evening baits.
As a general rule use smaller natural or light-colored plastics in clear water and bigger dark colored plastics in stained water. Plastic baits should always be fished very slowly and the lower the water temperature the slower they should be worked.
Towards evening bass become active in the shallows similar to the morning pattern. Normally the wind will die down for about an hour just before dark and during that short time frame the water will be as smooth as glass. When this condition occurs small spinnerbaits, buzz baits or thin-profile floating minnow imitators, worked on or close to the surface, will often entice dramatic tackle testing strikes.