Putting it all Together (an epiphany of sorts)

My summer break from full time teaching is almost over. With only two weeks left until I start camps for the 2015 year, I take a moment to look back on the past few weeks of fishing. What were some of my accomplishments? What were the disappointments? More importantly…what did I learn, and why write about it here?

One of the side benefits of this blog is that it serves not only as an outlet for me to express myself creatively but it provides me with a comprehensive fishing log of all my trips. I can look back on several years of blog entries and look for patterns. Does tide affect marsh fishing? What does water clarity have to do with it all? What flies worked or didn’t work under various conditions? How about the weather? I think that this has made me a better angler and this entry is my way of documenting what I’ve learned this summer about bass fishing.

I have had much success of the past few years in the neighborhood lakes by my house. Much of that, I was told, was because of the large stocking of Florida strain bass that were stocked in the lakes after the fish kill caused by Hurricane Gustav. A few years ago, it was nothing to fish with a fire-tiger popper and catch a dozen bass in an hour-and-a-half. Most of these bass, however, have been caught and removed by the locals. So the past few years, the fishing has become increasing more difficult. Oh, during the spawn, I’m sure I could catch many bass like so many of the locals do with plastic worms, lizards, and spinnerbaits, but that’s too easy. 🙂 I like the challenge of fooling them with foam, feathers, fur, and, balsa (cork). I like fishing for them when the spawn is long over and most of the locals don’t even think about fishing for them in June, July, and August.

Because the water temperature is hotter and the spawn is over, I have to learn to become a better angler. That brings me to the thing I’ve learned the most about this past summer. There have been times when I have witnessed a bass feeding frenzy. I have documented some of these on my videos. The bass would feed on the shad at the bottom of the dam after a heavy rain. I thought the shad were attracted to the dam because of the foam. I have learned in fact that it isn’t the foam. It’s the structure (the concrete) and the moving water that attracted the shad there because they were spawning!

There is much research on the internet about bass, but I decided to seek more information about their food supply. Here’s an interesting read about the shad spawn. All summer long, I’ve been able to predict the feeding frenzy based on the water runoff from the dam and the fact that the shad would show up a half hour before sunrise to just a little after sunrise. I caught my personal best on a fly rod a few days ago (July 2). That’s significant and I’ll tell you why in a moment. I also venture out and caught 6 very large bream (4 over 10 inches) later that morning. I ran into a guy who was “wearing them out” with worms that very same morning. Two days later, I fished the dam and only caught one small bass. The shad did not show up! I was puzzled but I just knew I could pass the next hour or two by catching and releasing some more of those big bream.

DCIM100GOPRO

DCIM100GOPRO

DCIM100GOPRO

I did catch a few, as the pictures suggest but ONLY three this time and the gentleman who has slammed the big bream just two days earlier, didn’t catch one over 8 inches! I was really perplexed.

Jump to this morning. We had a big rain yesterday and I knew that conditions would be perfect to catch some bass by the dam before church. I showed up very early and fished until 6 AM without getting a tap. The shad didn’t show up at all and neither did the bass! That’s when I questioned what was truly attracting the shad to the dam and after reading about the spawn, I figured that they had spawned out…for now. Remember the July 2nd date? That was the most recent FULL MOON. According to the research I found on the internet, shad will continue to spawn through September. I will continue to check the dam in a week or two but I bet the activity will pick up a week before the next full moon. I know that the big bream were spawning too, because three of the six I did fry up last week had eggs. That would explain why the bream had lockjaw yesterday.

So, to summarize what I’ve learned:

  1. Shad spawn in schools very early in the morning and will disperse shortly after the sun comes up.
  2. While shad may feed on the foam by the dam, it’s the structure (concrete) that attracts them. The eggs will stick to the structure. They will also spawn near woodpiles, plastic (docked boats), floating docks (styrofoam), and grass lines.
  3. Other factors that effect the spawn are moving water.
  4. They will spawn through the full moon and will not after the full moon.
  5. When they start another spawning cycle remains to be discovered 🙂
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