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Why was the fishing tough


Norm M
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Over the weekend a small group got together and fished a Illinois stream. On Saturday it was raining and the river rose a bit, on Sunday it was washed out bluebird skies.

 

On Saturday I was out fishing in the rain and had a real nice day. 4 different species, big fish and numbers of fish that were tearing up Subwalks, Suspending Rogues and crankbaits. I never even tied on a soft plastic/jig combo fish were waytoo active.

 

On Sunday, from my experience and from reports from others in the group plus other guys I meet on the flow things was tough. I couldn't buy a fish on anything but a jig/plastic conbo and damn few of those.

 

Conventional wisdom says the fishing is better in the prefrontal/front conditions than post frontal because of the reduced visibility that allows the fish to feed more actively than under bright clear skies.The thinking is that under the bright skies the fish just won't move much.

 

Now maybe it isn't the washed out sunny skies that is the culprit after all. Phil and I have noted through years of highwater fishing that the best bite is as the water rises, after that it subsides some to a lot especially in colder water. If the rising water spurs the fish to feed than wouldn't that explain why a lot of fish aren't moving much in post frontal conditions. They don't need to move as the majority of the fish put on the feed bag in the rising water and can just kick back for a bit afterward. Obviously the warmer the water and the higher the metabolism the sooner they will feed again.

 

This weekend even a minor rise in the water had the fish feeding and the next day they weren't feeding much. Blue sky or full belly? I did note that when there was a bug hatch going on Sunday[evidenced by swallows swooping low] the fish turned on a bit. The title of an old InFiherman article was "What turns game fish on ? An influx of prey." An influx of prey [bugs and small fish eating the bugs] was enough to bestir some fish on an otherwise slow day. Picture yourself after Thanksgiving dinner, are you getting out out the lazy boy recliner for a nibble or two of cranberries ? If your loving and thoughtful wife walks in with a plate with a hunk of pumpkin pie slathered in whip cream and hands it to you , well you'll prolly munch at least a little.

 

One thing I would suggest under these conditions is that it may be better to fish the biggest holding area you can find. More fish in a spot may mean finding at least a few fish they are still feeding. The smaller more confined areas with a handful of fish may have 1 or 2 or more likely no active fish.

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You are the guru of the river Norm and those days with the bright sky's we perhaps need to be a little more picky as to where we throw out baits. The best holding spot should be worked more thoroughly in an effort to get them Bass to go after a bait.

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I don't think the bright sky or feeding heavily the day before have anything to do with the poor fishing following a front.Most of my best river fishing for smb has been on sunny days although that's the worse time to lake fish especially for lmb unless the water's cold as in early spring or fall.Re the fish having fed heavily the previous day, their high metabolism during the summer would presumably have them ready to feed again the next day. No matter how much we pig out on Thanksgiving we're all ready for turkey leftovers the day after.From what I've read the main reason for the poor fishing seems to have to do with the dramatic rise in barometric pressure on the heals of a frontal passage that puts the fish in a funk.In my experience this affect is much more predictable and pronounced in lakes than in rivers provided it didn't rain enuf to muddy the rivers.

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I do not believe in the bluebird sky theory for river fishing.

 

That's an old sawhorse from lake fishing which applies to just that, lake fishing. Fish have a variety of different depths to choose from in a lake. In a lot of rivers (streams,creeks) deep is 4 feet. The fish can't go up or down. They can seek the deepest hole, but that's in the next 50 yard for a wading guy. There may be other reasons but sun is not one of them.Current, structure, oxygen are all way more important than sunny or cloudy.

 

As I've fished streams more and more over the years, I notice a lot of "lake" theories still being promoted. Way different environment here that we're fishing, along with way different smallmouth.

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I also don't buy the "Bluebird Sky" means poor fishing. I had one of my best days ever on a day when there wasn't a cloud in the sky and the bass hit all day long. It may be the rising barometer that brings in the cool dry air after the front goes through that affects the bite. Maybe the change upward in the barometer makes the fish uncomfortable and switches them to a negative mood.

Another thing that I feel turns off the bass is that along with a rise in current flow and high water usually comes dirtier water. Bass are sight feeders and when conditions change it may take them a while to adapt. In rivers that are almost never clear, the bass don't have to adapt they are used to it.

I have no way to tell if this is correct, but it is a possibility.

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Bluebird skies are a killer here this year. Don't know why. Don't want to have a good day, hit the bluebirds :( .Oftentimes, bluebirds have ment there isn't a fish to be seen in the clear water...what does this, while sometimes sunny days+ shade have equalled crazy bite?

 

Stability is probably the issue Rain and rise, low light situations to bright light situations have not been good in a variety of areas this year for me. I predict the 5 straight days of Bluebirds here to lead to some excellent fishing by late week. Stability. Our rivers and creeks have been in constant flux this year.

 

Scott's got a good point about dirtier color vs clearer. Always been fascinated by Norm's stories of cranks on the Kank haven't produced much for me trying them on clearer water creeks.

 

It doesn't always manifest itself in skunkings, but often in a larger percentage of small fish, often a complete absence of larger fish. Bumping some rocks by accident on some of those days helped me find out where the bigger fish were- mostly uncatchable.

 

In june-july, nestled in between far too many subpar trips (couple handfuls of dinks) were a 72 fish trip and one where I broke 18" 4 times.

 

Anyways keep talking guys, maybe we'll get some conventional wisdom figured out. Good discussion.

 

Sometimes smallies can't stand light and other times the light sets them off...go figure.

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Late in the fall on the Wisconsin, Don and I were into some fairly steady action under very windy conditions and a fast approaching front. When the front arrived and the rain started to fall, we expected the fishing to pickup, thinking the decreased light penetration might create some activity. The temperatures dropped, the rain fell, the wind never stopped and after a few miserable and soaking hours we wrapped it up pretty much fishless. The next day the bass were essentially in lockjaw mode, though we didn't have bluebird sky conditions. That was one of the few times I've ever experienced front conditions affecting river fishing. I've also had great days in post frontal +40-50 degree weather during the heat of the summer in northern WI.

 

In regards to smallies being sight feeders, I just change techniques when the water is coming up. I've had some of my most productive days during rising levels with decreased clarity. They seem to be able to overcome their sight deficiencies to take advantage of forage that concentrates in predictable areas.

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In my neck of the woods I have found that clear water is the paramount key. If you don't have clear water, fishing will be tough. My theory is that my river's are normally clear, and when they are not, fish feed very poorly or sporadically.

 

Now, when it comes to cloudy vs. sunny, I have had great days in both conditions. I will say for the Vermilion River my records have shown cloudy days have normally equaled great topwater action and high fish numbers. Sunny days cause the topwater bite to cease, but I have had some great numbers days when the sun is shining brightly. A final note concerns the Fox. The Fox River is not really a clear water river. That river seems to fish very well when it is up and dirty. Could it be the fact that the fish are used to the turbid water? Sure seems to be the case.

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Here's my clear water theory: I enjoy fishing it because I love seeing the minnows, crayfish, etc. as I wade. I feel more confident because I can see cover and structure, and know when I place the perfect cast alongside that submerged log. And even if I haven't caught a fish, seeing one follow but turn away in clear water gives me the adrenaline rush and gets the confidence back up.

 

Bottom line is, I don't know if the fish behave any differently. I DO know that I behave differently, and because of that I do much better in low, clear water. I'm more confident, more alert, more in tune with the river, and more entertained.

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Here's my clear water theory: I enjoy fishing it because I love seeing the minnows, crayfish, etc. as I wade. I feel more confident because I can see cover and structure, and know when I place the perfect cast alongside that submerged log. And even if I haven't caught a fish, seeing one follow but turn away in clear water gives me the adrenaline rush and gets the confidence back up.

 

Bottom line is, I don't know if the fish behave any differently. I DO know that I behave differently, and because of that I do much better in low, clear water. I'm more confident, more alert, more in tune with the river, and more entertained.

 

 

Amen. Could not have said it better myself.

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I'm not buying the blue bird sky thing either. I had a 50 plus fish day on a bluebird day. The water was also low and so clear I could see little bass swimming around at my feet 4 feet down. It was an awesome day even though a high percentage of the fish were around the ten inch mark. I've also had a prefrontal overcast day with stained water, the kind of day that should be perfect and it was a tough bite.

 

The more I fish and read and learn I believe that there are really no hard and fast "rules". I think there are a few guidelines.

One would be stabilty. The second would be minor fluctuations like Norm experienced Saturday and I caught the tail end of on Sunday. The water came up at a slow steady pace and visibilty remained on the positive side. The last would be that short window of extreme conditions. I recall Norm had an excellent day this past winter. I believe this was the third or so day of a waming trend and a front was due to come in at the end of the day. I watched the weather later that night and the pressure had dropped that day to the lowest it had been in 10 years. In this you had both stabilty and an extreme.

 

I'm going to keep plugging away and try to hedge my bets towards these types of conditions.

 

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After having very little luck targeting walleyes all winter on the Kankakee several years ago, we happened to be fishing for cats in my boat on a searing summer day.......

100 degrees (not an exaggeration), bluebird sky day.

At noon on the button, we were dropping 3/4 oz egg sinkers with crawlers in heavy current and brought up an 8 lb walleye.

 

Wish I still had a photo.

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After having very little luck targeting walleyes all winter on the Kankakee several years ago, we happened to be fishing for cats in my boat on a searing summer day.......

100 degrees (not an exaggeration), bluebird sky day.

At noon on the button, we were dropping 3/4 oz egg sinkers with crawlers in heavy current and brought up an 8 lb walleye.

 

Wish I still had a photo.

 

Two of my biggest walleyes caught were in July; one on Lake Shelbyville in mid July in close to 100 degree temps and the other a river walleye caught at the end of July, midday in about 1 foot of clear water about 2 feet offshore. The Shelbyville walleye was caught on a plain feather jig fishing for crappies; the river walleye was caught on a Shad Rap while fishing for smallies.

 

Just as I had planned. :P

 

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Here's my clear water theory: I enjoy fishing it because I love seeing the minnows, crayfish, etc. as I wade. I feel more confident because I can see cover and structure, and know when I place the perfect cast alongside that submerged log. And even if I haven't caught a fish, seeing one follow but turn away in clear water gives me the adrenaline rush and gets the confidence back up.

 

Bottom line is, I don't know if the fish behave any differently. I DO know that I behave differently, and because of that I do much better in low, clear water. I'm more confident, more alert, more in tune with the river, and more entertained.

 

In my younger days, I fished as much as I could, whenever I could, and in whatever conditions there were at that time.

 

Nowadays, I will fish just about anytime I can, as long as its in a river filled with huge smallies, surrounded by nature and no one else in sight the whole time I'm fishing. In other words, I'm pretty selective (maybe even spoiled) when it comes to the wheres and whens. The whole experience is much more important to me now than just catching the fish.

 

;)

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I don't think barometric pressure affects river fish as much as it does lake fish. The constantly moving water I believe keeps mixing together which tends to negate pressure changes. I recall an InFisherman article about this, have to look for it.

 

I don't think the bright sun makes fish stop biting although I believe it does effect location somewhat. I don't have a really valid reason to say why this is so but it is something I have noted. The fish at least in my experience tend to be more active in areas that provide shade or lessen the sun's effects like faster water.

 

I don't think we can really compare our metabolism to a fishes as we are warm blooded creatures and they are not. Too many times in smaller areas I have had very poor to non existant action on the day after one in which a major feeding binge took place. I'm not an expert on how fast thier metabolism is , just going by rod/reel reseach. I still think that after a day like Saturday where it seemed like every fish on the river was chewing it makes sense to target larger areas that hold more fish to put the odds in your favor.

 

Phil and I had another discussion today and he mentioned that he noticed that drain tiles and other such sources of inflow brought cooler water into the stream after it rained. The combination of rising water getting the fish to feed coupled with cooler inflow which could slow their metabolic rate could delay the rate at which they feed actively again. On a larger stream like mine the effect is very likely lessened but still may do something. The spring seeps are flowly a little more , the drain tiles are putting in cooler water and the storm sewers dump in a lot of water.

 

Brendan ,

 

Cranks and clear water do go together you just have to adjust. In the more open unshaed areas fish them fast for a reaction bite, don't let them get a good look at it. Throw them into shaded areas, faster water, weeds and wood. Use a crank with a wider bill in the wood, beef up the tackle some, make accurate casts and bang it off the wood. Sometimes a smaller crank with a more natural finish burned thru the open areas is better than a large crank with gaudy colors as it gives off less negative cues. However smallies being the inquisitive , contary critters that they are sometimes you just gotta go with the truly outrageous.

 

I've been chasing smallies all my life , don't know all the answers and don't really want to know everything. That still won't stop me from trying to figure them out. That's why I like to toss stuff like this out for discussion, it's interesting to see what people with experiences different than mine are thinking.

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Cranks and clear water do go together you just have to adjust. In the more open unshaed areas fish them fast for a reaction bite, don't let them get a good look at it. Throw them into shaded areas, faster water, weeds and wood. Use a crank with a wider bill in the wood, beef up the tackle some, make accurate casts and bang it off the wood. Sometimes a smaller crank with a more natural finish burned thru the open areas is better than a large crank with gaudy colors as it gives off less negative cues. However smallies being the inquisitive , contary critters that they are sometimes you just gotta go with the truly outrageous.

 

 

I've tried many of the things you've posted Norm- though not as much as you for sure :) . Cranks work great in spring and decent with stained water. Other than that, for me other lures are more productive. Have to check it in person some time.

 

This is where anecdotes don't really help, sure everyone has had good days with plenty of sun. In the winter, and early spring, it's mostly beneficial. In clear, low water, it can often be a turn off, but that even can turn if consecutive days of sun pile up, I mean they have to eat.

 

All we can do is keep an accurate log- from some real data. The human recollection can fool the mathematics of any situation. Even then I suspect there are a lot of other factors...

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Brendan,

 

When fishing clear water do you consider the angle of the sun on your instream cover? Fishing the shady side of boulders, weeds , deadfalls , etc helped me on smaller, clearer flows I've fished.

 

The other lures you fish in sunny conditions in clear water, do you go smaller with more natural hues and fish them real slow ?

 

 

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All we can do is keep an accurate log- from some real data. The human recollection can fool the mathematics of any situation. Even then I suspect there are a lot of other factors...

 

Great discussion here.

 

Brenden's statement above is good to keep in mind in almost any discussion about a complex ecological-behavioral issue like this. There are exceptions to every rule and a few fond memories of a fluke can skew your perceptions. Sometimes too you can have a pattern down, but draw the wrong conclusions from it. More often than not, more than one thing is actually causing a pattern.

 

I'll say this about what I've seen as a biologist.

 

Things that happen in nature are rarely caused by "one thing". Water level rises have been happening in rivers for billions of years. Every scrap of DNA in those rivers has been sifted and sorted by those events to create the patterns in DNA that handle floods best. There is strong evolutionary pressure to handle disturbances like that as well as possible to ensure survival. Fish probably take advantage of many factors surrounding a flood, not just one. Temperature, light, new available habitat, terrestrial inputs...and possibly more.

 

Phil and I have also talked about reasons feeding activity increases before a flood. I think we see 2 different sides of the same coin on that issue. Why do fish feed so actively before a flood? Because prey is active? Ok, well why are are prey fish etc. are more active then? Is it because there really more opportunities to feed then or is it because there diminished opportunity to feed later when conditions are bad? Could it be both?

 

I've not researched the specific advantages fish have from feeding on rising water. I'd be curious to know what data is out there to show that prey are more available on rising water. I have, however, researched the disadvantages to feeding after a flood.

 

Once the flood hits and water clarity drops, search distances plummet. If you're a visual predator like bass, you can't catch what you can't see. Hunting success declines in cloudy water. That fits with what others here have said about clear water being the key to success with or without fronts. The scientific data is pretty clear for visual fish predators. That doesn't mean fish can't hunt in turbid water, but it does take away some of their hunting options and it lowers their overall success rate over the long run.

 

All of this feeds into natural selection. An animal that loads up on forage before a flood will have a greater total energy intake than an animal that doesn't binge before a period of bad hunting conditions. Remember that natural selection has a tendancy to drive these fish to maximize their growth. Body size is a key predictor of overwinter survival, spawning success, over all fecundity, vulnerability to predators and a host of other things. Big fish almost always has the advantage for survival and reproduction. They must grow to succeed.

 

To prepare for a storm, the fish only needs to know the front is coming (and apparently they do...see below). They're also too primitive to reason out why they should feed before a flood comes, so they need a physiological trigger that drives them to raise their feed. That exists. Environmental cues (like light levels, but other things too) can trigger specific neurotransmitter releases at their nerve synapses. Those can increase aggression and activity levels which can in turn trigger things like feeding binges (think of it as them setting muscles on a hair trigger...the slighted inclination to do something results in action). Back when I was really excited by this I had all the citations for this stuff...I can look it up again if anyone cares.

 

Norm feels river fish can't perceive barometric pressue, and maybe that's true. However, fish can definitely tell when a front is coming before it arrives. We ran a 3 year gill net survey on the upper Kaskaskia River from 1989-1991 and in the river, all the gizzard shad that had running eggs were collected within 48 hours of rain event (before and after, rising and pre-rising hydrograph). That's many dozens of fish and a statistically microscopic chance that's a fluke. I've seen other studies that showed the same thing.

 

I do still wonder about barometric pressure and fish. The time frame in our study leaves a small number of environmental cues for the fish to pick up to know that a front is coming. Barometric pressure is one. Light due to cloud cover might work. In this case, however, rising water was not the cue that drove that behavior. The fish are probably monitoring several cues because the better information they have about when floods are coming, the better they can cope with them. Norm's right that pressure changes in depth are much greater than barometric pressure changes. Maybe that mechanism just won't work. Maybe too, the fish can calibrate the differences in pressure against known depth and velocities. I don't know. I'm just questioning and I haven't seen enough research on that point to have a strong opinion about that. It's probably the case that the fish is monitoring several cues, perhaps including some we haven't thought about.

 

The idea that temperature generally drives the drop in feeding after floods has some interesting angles that should be addressed. For instance, in summer when the bass are stressed by hot temperatures, cooler water temperatures after a rain event may actually make the water MORE suitable for foraging and growth (mid to low 70s). Reduced light and search area is still out there as an alternative hypothesis for the main driver in reduced feeding in post-flood conditions. Again, those mechanisms may well work in conjuction toward the same effect.

 

Here are some questions whose answers might help determine which factor is important or which factor is important when:

 

Look for the amount the temperature drops after a front against the optimal temperatures smallmouth prefer. Is the drop in feeding less when the drop is say...from 65 to 55 than it is when the drop is from 78 to 72 or from 82 to 78?

 

What about post-front days that produce too little rain to cloud the water but are still very bright and have high barometric pressue. Is river fishing still impaired then? (In my experience, no).

 

In systems where forage is scarce are the bass unable to binge ahead of a front? Maybe you could see differences in post-front feeding depressions between systems with fat fish and systems with lean fish. If a binge is unsuccessful and the fish is still hungry after the front, maybe they continue to feed at the same rate.

 

Plenty to think about here with nice practical applications for chosing times and places to fish.

 

Again. Great topic. Nice stuff all around.

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As barometric pressure is concerned, one theory I have seen a number of times goes something like this:

When barometric pressure pressure is high, invertebrates tend to cling tightly to whatever their habitat tends to consist of (vegetation, structure, lake or river bottom).

While the pressure is low, they are in more of a "free mode", floating and flowing freely in the water column, hence an easier target. A question of opportunities, I suppose.

 

Ironically, I found just as many studies that concluded it all comes down to the effect barometric pressure has on the swim bladder.

 

Fisheries biologist Roger Hugill puts it much better than I could.

 

Biologist's Guide to barometric pressure

 

“Fish are extremely in tune with their environment,” he explains. “They have an incredible array of pressure-sensing systems—such as the lateral line—that key them in to changes in barometric pressure, which in turn could signal feeding opportunities or foretell the arrival of a major weather change.”

 

How gamefish react depends on what affect variations in pressure (and accompanying factors such as fluctuations in water temperature due to a warm or cold front) are having on their food supply and the world around them.

 

For example, a drop in pressure can cause tiny particles of sediment and other material to float off bottom or rise higher in the water column than they normally suspend—particularly when currents are involved—slightly reducing water clarity. But more importantly, it can affect tiny creatures such as zooplankton and phytoplankton—the building blocks of any respectable aquatic food chain.

 

“These organisms need to move up and down in the water column in response to changes in light intensity and other factors, so they have built-in mechanisms for maintaining buoyancy,” says Hugill.

 

Some have tiny air bladders. Others possess the ability to retain air as a means to regulate their position in the water. “They’re generally able to adjust to variations in barometric pressure, but a fast change can catch them off guard, making them slightly unstable.”

 

This can push algae, phytoplankton or zooplankton out of its comfort zone and make it more vulnerable to predators. In some cases, gamefish such as crappies may move in to feed on zooplankton, but often a parade of forage species ranging from bloaters to shiners and dace—depending on the fishery—may also show up to feast on destabilized prey. Larger predators follow to sample the baitfish buffet.

 

Most catchable-size fish aren’t phased by the change in pressure. If anything, they’re stoked by it. “The physical affect on bigger fish is less pronounced,” Hugill explains. “Bass, walleyes, pike and other larger fish are built to handle it, and the changes in pressure are small compared to their overall size, mass and ability to swim.”

 

Plus, these fish are used to adjusting to depth-related pressure changes as they travel up and down in the water column. If you’ve ever jumped into a lake or pool and had your ears “pop,” you know that pressure is greater the deeper you go.

 

“If a fish is neutrally buoyant three feet beneath the surface, then swims down to 10 feet it won’t suspend anymore; it will sink—so it has to adjust,” Hugill says. Compared to these depth-related pressure changes, a slight rise or fall in the barometer is easy for a bass or walleye to handle.”

 

All of this helps explain why a rising or falling barometer often signals good fishing. Now is the time to be on the water, fishing known feeding areas with aggressive tactics.

 

Alternative theory:

 

http://www.panews.com/outdoors/local_story_198204645.html

 

According to fish biologist Dr. Gary Van Gelder, when applying basic math it's easy to see that small changes in barometric pressure probably have little effect on fish directly. For example, a pressure change from 30 inches of mercury to 29 inches only represents a pressure change of about 13 inches of water.

 

“In this situation a fish would have to move one foot deeper to maintain the exact same pressure on its body,” Van Gelder said.

 

“Given that adult bass are neutral buoyant over plus or minus five feet over a 10-foot range, it's hard to see how this small difference would impact them.”

 

On the other hand, there may very well be something to falling and rising barometric pressure as this signals major changes in sky conditions, wind direction, and so on.

 

According to Van Gelder, there are two explanations that have at least some validity in explaining why fishing is sometimes more difficult on “bluebird days” such as those that follow a major cold or storm front.

 

“One explanation based on observations made by scuba divers that's consistent with fishing experience is that there is an active feeding period as the cold front moves into an area,” he said.

 

“The theory is that the fish gorge and are less active during the post-front ‘bluebird sky' period.

 

“The second explanation is that the higher levels of ultraviolet radiation adversely impact the smaller life forms in the food chain, and infrared radiation associated with sunlight under very clear sky conditions. It's possible the bigger fish have ‘learned' that feeding success is lower during these periods and thus maintain a lower level of activity until the food chain gets active and becomes more readily available.”

 

Many anglers seem to prefer the pressure to be around 30.00 or 30.10. Many professional fishing guides feel this is the peak biting period and say anything higher turns the bite off. There may be some science to back this up.

 

The Florida Game and Fish Commission put several species of saltwater fish, including speckled trout and redfish, in a large observation tank with a controlled atmosphere to study how pressure would affect their feeding habits.

 

At between 30.00 and 30.10 barometric pressure, the fish started to feed. When they turned the pressure up to 31.30, the fish died. It was believed the confined tank didn't allow the fish enough depth to equalize the pressure on their body.

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Interesting reading............

 

Tim, I like your point regarding the bass being programmed by years of flood cycles. The DuPage is one of those rivers that experiences a lot of flooding since it drains so much of the County. While bass are sight feeders, I think the Dupe bass have evolved into pretty efficient predators during the flood cycles. I know firsthand that they will crush a spinnerbait in what appears to be chocolate water. I also know that when you are fishing with spinnerbaits, you will locate concentrations of baitfish, evidenced by the baitfish skittering all over the surface to get out of the way of the spinnerbait during the retrieve. When the water is clear, I don't see an abundant amount of forage anywhere. I think the bass take advantage of this concentration, but I can't say exactly when it starts and ends. I think the rising level and increased flow are signals (but not necessarily the only ones) as I have experienced active bass during this period. I have also caught them after the rise and before the drop. I have tried to pinpoint a pattern based on the gauges, things like how much flow creates activity and how much is too much, but I just don't fish enough to establish one. Most of my observations have been during the warm water periods as well. If a river is not prone to much cyclical flooding, perhaps it would have a negative impact on the behavior of the bass.

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Interesting reading............

While bass are sight feeders, I think the Dupe bass have evolved into pretty efficient predators during the flood cycles. I know firsthand that they will crush a spinnerbait in what appears to be chocolate water. I also know that when you are fishing with spinnerbaits, you will locate concentrations of baitfish, evidenced by the baitfish skittering all over the surface to get out of the way of the spinnerbait during the retrieve. When the water is clear, I don't see an abundant amount of forage anywhere. I think the bass take advantage of this concentration, but I can't say exactly when it starts and ends.

 

Steve I'm sure you're right that bass are having some success foraging during turbid condtions.

 

If a bass is hungry it will try to feed regardless of conditoins. It will try to catch baitfish (and lures) in low turbidity, and succeed sometimes. But is it as successful on average as it would be during clear water conditions?

 

I wonder if the fact that you're seeing baitfish in the open during turbid conditions is linked to the fact that bass can't see them. Risk of predation is specifically why baitfish and invertebrates tend to become active at dawn and dusk. For both baitfish and invertebrates, the level of activity in low light and at night is linked to the presence of predators. If no predators are there, the prey species are active all the time. When predators are present, prey wait for poor visibility to forage.

 

Mike, those are interesting articles. I'd be curious to see the reference about benthic invertebrates. It does seem from the examples and taxa listed that the physics and biology involved are more relevant for lakes than most of the rivers I fish. There is very little phytoplankon and thus very little zooplankton in small rivers. Lakes and reservoirs (and large slow moving rivers) are where zooplakton really come into their own. There they are the primary forage for small fish.

 

The comments in the article about barometric pressure acting as a cue for changing conditions fit with what I was saying. Connect that to a river where changing conditions often result in turbid water after a rain and you have both good conditions before the flood and bad conditions after the flood. Double sides of a coin to eat as much as you can ahead of a front.

 

 

 

 

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Brendan,

 

When fishing clear water do you consider the angle of the sun on your instream cover? Fishing the shady side of boulders, weeds , deadfalls , etc helped me on smaller, clearer flows I've fished.

 

The other lures you fish in sunny conditions in clear water, do you go smaller with more natural hues and fish them real slow ?

 

 

Norm, bass do shutdown sometimes. I do almost always fish natural hues. Downsizing is a thought....but hardly brings my mind pleasure :lol:

 

They were back on fire tonight. Stability.

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Interesting reading............

 

Tim, I like your point regarding the bass being programmed by years of flood cycles. The DuPage is one of those rivers that experiences a lot of flooding since it drains so much of the County. While bass are sight feeders, I think the Dupe bass have evolved into pretty efficient predators during the flood cycles. I know firsthand that they will crush a spinnerbait in what appears to be chocolate water. I also know that when you are fishing with spinnerbaits, you will locate concentrations of baitfish, evidenced by the baitfish skittering all over the surface to get out of the way of the spinnerbait during the retrieve. When the water is clear, I don't see an abundant amount of forage anywhere. I think the bass take advantage of this concentration, but I can't say exactly when it starts and ends. I think the rising level and increased flow are signals (but not necessarily the only ones) as I have experienced active bass during this period. I have also caught them after the rise and before the drop. I have tried to pinpoint a pattern based on the gauges, things like how much flow creates activity and how much is too much, but I just don't fish enough to establish one. Most of my observations have been during the warm water periods as well. If a river is not prone to much cyclical flooding, perhaps it would have a negative impact on the behavior of the bass.

 

 

Here' s a possible regional difference. Many of the streams I fish don't flood badly often- I think they are much more likely to feed with clearer water and chill during the bad times. Stained or muddy water spinnerbaits have been like paperweights for me.

 

I'll buy smallies in different flows getting conditioned one way or the other. Frankly, I'd rather fish for the bass that adapt better to off colored water

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Lots of great discussion and points to ponder. It's given me the urge to reread Dr Hynes "Ecology of Running Water", hopefully it's still in my library.

 

Tim ,

 

Any books on limnology or freshwater biology you would recommend?

 

As far as the barometric pressue goes I would not say in is not part of the total package of natural cues for the fish. I just don't think it has as much effect on river fish as it does lake fish.

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