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Are Bass 'Really' Homebodies?

Mike Clifford

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I've heard it said more often than I can count.

Bass have a certain range they stick to in a river system, and don't travel far from it.


So if this theory holds water, why is it some areas that have produced for guys in the past seem to have become "dead pools" when we can't seem to be able to catch them like we used to?


There are a couple of pools in particular on my favored flow that have turned into just that, and not only for this angler.

Any thoughts on this?


We can probably dissect this enough to find some obvious factors:


Stream degradation/siltation, etc.

Angling Pressure (the fish have gotten wise?)

Poaching (the fish have gotten eaten)

Global Warming (oh, shut up)



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The school of thought that makes the most since to me is that they will travel as far as they need to find appropriate winter habitat. This may be in the same pool that they live in the summer or several miles downstream. As far as movments between pools during summer for feeding reasons or returning to a different pool than the previous year during the spawn and/or summer, I'm curious. I've noticed the same thing as you and you can't help but wonder.

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Mike, it sounds like you may have answered your own question.


Wild guesses:


Maybe due to distance you are hitting it at the wrong time.

River Otters?


Flow fluctuations + seasonal situation?


Death of a couple recruitment classes?


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Studies have shown both - that smallmouth can be homebodies when suitable, year-round habitat is all in close proximity (spawning, feeding, wintering) or that they will migrate great distances to seek out the habitat they need depending on the time of the season.


When you get it figured out, let me know!

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That's my understanding as well, Steve.


The flux of numbers and sizes around here makes it pretty clear that fish are moving long distances (several miles at least...probably dozens of miles) between small and large flows to spawn, over-summer and over-winter. Genetic studies show that smallmouth remain faithful to specific spawning areas.


Phil F was involved in a pilot study that examined smallmouth movements by implanting PIT tags on hook and line caught smallmouth bass then monitoring for re-captures. He might chip in a few comments here.

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