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Brown: Learning to adjust to conditions key to great fishing

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Naturally occurring woody cover like laydowns are prime bass fishing cover but can be challenging to fish with conventional baits like jigs and spinnerbaits.

This has been a spring like no other. Seems the weather can’t make up its mind.

One day it’s hot, the next day cold, and it seems as if it is always raining and windy. Lightning is a bad thing, but wind is a close second, and no matter what lake you fish, it can have an impact. All things in moderation, but one extreme to another seems to put fish in a quandary.

Let’s talk about wind a bit. Wind can be your friend — it does blow the lake's food supply around a bit. Phytoplankton and zooplankton are micro-organisms — one plant and one animal — that feed the small fish and are easily moved with the wind. Small fish follow, and with the small fish come larger gamefish to feed on them.

A windblown bank can be a recipe for a big day, but, again, it has to be fishable. Boat control, especially with small boats, can be adversely impacted with wind speed. Even with spot-lock on today’s trolling motors, some banks can be nearly unfishable when the wind is too high. Ten mile-per-hour winds from the south to the southwest can cause the fish to put on the feedbag, but the same wind from the north or east can cause them to shut down.

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Pair the wind with barometric pressure and you can almost predict the good days from the bad ones. Moon phase does have a bearing, as well as water temps, but ultimately it is length of day and time of the year. Fishing success is science, and it’s much more than a favorite fishing spot. It is putting all the seasonal variables together and mapping out a game plan based on those.

There are exceptions where things can fly opposite of all the science, but that is rare. A cove full of bait, a bumper crop of grass when none was present before or current can change the game, too.

In the summer, current is your friend and even something as simple as water going over a dam or spillway or wind direction can cause current. It may be a small amount and even not discernable to the naked eye, but it's there. Water movement, especially in the summer, is huge to getting fish to bite. It can be uncomfortable above the water, but below the water it is scarily consistent.

Fish follow food, and in the Midwest it includes shad, bluegills and crawfish for adult fish. Glass minnows and young fish from the spawn are also forage. I hear all the time about large gamefish like musky and hybrid bass being a detriment to great fishing, but small fish like crappie and bluegill eat a lot more of the small fish than any musky will eat. Rest assured musky do eat bass, but also be assured that bass eat their share of small musky, too. It’s the circle of life.

No doubt, we as anglers make fish smarter than they really are. They do three things, swim, spawn and eat — that’s pretty much it. But we are always looking for a new gadget, a new color or a new action, though a Palov’s Dog mentality of behavior conditioning suits them more appropriately.

Fish use olfactory senses (smell), but lateral line and sight is mainly how they feed. Noise can also impact fish — they do know sounds like shad and crawfish clicks. A pump running or water rushing through a cut means bait, and a good meal is just around the corner. They do get conditioned to noise.

Gamefish also do not move long distances most of the year. The exception is fall, when they may move following baitfish into creeks and large pockets. Biologists call the area they inhabit their “home range,” and unless circumstances like flood or poor water conditions dictate it, they will generally stay in the same area. They may move a short distance or up and down in the water column, but stable conditions means they will range only short distances.

Tournaments do move fish and they will stay put for a day or two, but studies have found they will move to more suitable areas shortly after release.

Anglers tend to look for excuses, including the weather, water clarity and temperature of the water as a reason fish aren't biting. Adjusting to conditions, and better knowledge of electronics and seasonal patterns can turn a day around.

The puzzle can be hard to put together, but someone always figures them out. That is part of the game that makes fishing fun and challenging. If it was easy, everyone would do it!


Terry Brown is President of Wired2Fish.com, an industry leading, daily website and social media fishing centered community that provides information on products, industry newsmakers and fishing techniques. You can read more by going to www.Wired2Fish.com.

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