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PATTERNING BASS

Patterning Bass Basics
Before each fishing trip begins experienced bass fishermen predict which patterns have the best chance of working.
As soon as they are on the lake these bass fishermen begin the fishing day by trying to pattern the bass based on their earlier predictions. And they continue to experiment until they have developed a workable pattern.
Otherwise, their fishing trip is a failure. What do we mean by patterning? What is it these experienced bass fishermen are trying to do?

Nothing mysterious. Before they left home they were trying to predict how bass would be caught, and as soon as they were on the lake, they went to work at determining how fish can best be caught. In a word they were developing fishing patterns. Perhaps the best way to explain patterning is by way of an example.

Assume we are fishing in shallow, quality waters that have lots of vegetation, stumps, lay-downs, treetops, and the like -- a place that looks bassy everywhere you turn. No matter where you look, you are looking at potentially productive fishing waters. We start our fishing by going down a bank throwing spinner baits at the cover along the bank.

Suddenly, we catch our first fish. It came from the shaded side of a lay-down log. We continue fishing down that shore and the next fish we catch also came from the shaded side of a lay-down log. Eureka! We have a pattern.

At this point we discontinue tossing at all available structure; instead, we concentrate on the shadowed side of lay-down logs, and we continue to catch fish. We have established a pattern and we are fishing it.
Each fishing day should consist of activities designed to develop a pattern. Then, when we have a pattern, we fish the pattern as long as it holds.
When the pattern fails, we repeat the process. We search for a new pattern, we fish the new pattern until it runs out, we search for another pattern and we fish the third pattern until it runs out.
The concept is simple. In this lesson we discuss efficient ways of developing patterns.

Begin by considering the water temperature
If there is a secret to predicting bass activities, it is water temperature. Water temperature effects bass every minute of their lives, and it effects them in quite predictable ways. Given a chance, a bass would prefer to live in 72-degree water.
If the water is warmer than this, they will seek the coolest water available that meets their needs. When the water is colder than 72 degrees, they seek the warmest water they can live in.
But temperature is by no means the whole story. Bass will only be found where there is food, oxygen, and cover. In other words, if we can find a water temperature that a bass prefers, and if there is food, oxygenated water, and cover in these waters, the bass will be there, you can count on it.
This is the first step in developing a pattern. When we are fishing, we are constantly watching the surface temperature. And we are also watching for evidence that baitfish are in the area.
We move, or change our fishing technique, based on water temperature and the presence or absence of baitfish. Here is a fancy word for our wildlife vocabulary: Ectotherm. An ectotherm animal is any animal whose body temperature adjusts to its external environment. A snake is an ectotherm, so is a frog, a turtle, and a bass.
As the water cools everything that goes on inside these creatures slows down. For example, in cooler water it takes a bass considerably longer to digest its food, and as a consequence, the bass goes longer between meals.
Bass begin each calendar year in an extremely lethargic, semi-dormant state. In January's cold water they semi-hibernate. Then, as the water gradually warms, they become more active. A bass can sense minute changes in water temperatures. This is the second pattern we try to develop for pre-spawn bass.
If the water is reasonably clear I will be throwing suspending Rogues, jigs-and-pigs, grubs, or Gitzits.
In dingy water we will be throwing spinnerbaits, crayfish colored crankbaits, lizards and worms. When the water temperature passes through 60 degrees, the bass start preparing to spawn, and when it reaches 65 degrees, the bass will be full spawn.

Post Spawn Patterns
Post-spawn bass patterns vary substantially from lake to lake. Having said this, our observation is that post-spawn bass divide themselves into two groups.
One group moves shallow and can be found close to shallow water all summer long. The other group moves deep and can be found at the same depth as baitfish.
When developing patterns for post-spawn bass we first try to find fish in shallow vegetation, among shallow chunk rock, underneath manmade shallow cover (such as boat docks or bridges), and holding near laydowns or in buck-brush. When we cannot develop a shallow, post-spawn bass pattern, we try to develop a deep-water pattern. We begin the process by using sonar to determine the depth of baitfish.

When you find this depth, use sonar to find ledges, flats, rocks, brushpiles, and the like at the same depth as the baitfish. From the perspective of developing patterns based on temperatures, post-spawn lasts from immediately after the spawn until fall. In other words, we try to develop a shallow pattern; when this doesn't work, we try to find a deep-water pattern.
In the fall the shad and the bass start migrating into coves and tributaries. Instead of looking for bass, we find the shad.
When we find shad in coves or in tributaries we try to find the leading edge of the migration, then we try to develop a pattern that will catch fish near the leading edge of the shad migration. Year in and year out, this has been our most effective way of developing fall fishing patterns.

River Patterns
Current is the key to developing river patterns. River bass are usually active if there is a current and inactive if no current is flowing.
When there is current, active bass can be found shallow; no current, inactive bass can be found deep. When there is current, we try to develop patterns based on bass that will be relating to shorelines, sand bars, underwater humps, ledges and the like. We particularly look for shallow bass in eddy waters, on flats near the current, and along the outside shore where the river changes direction.
If there is a lot of current the bass will be holding near the current in calmer waters. If there is nominal current, the bass will be holding in the current, but using cover to block most of the current's effects.
Here is what frequently happens to us on a river. We develop a shallow river pattern that produces as long as there is current. Then, suddenly the powers that be, close the dam and there is no current.
Our fish immediately quit biting and they disappear. Where do the go? First, they go down-stream; second, they go deeper; and third, they go inactive. The fish is the river are trapped; they cannot leave the river; therefore, they are still there, even when it appears for all the world that they have completely disappeared. We can usually find them down-stream and deeper. And since 95 percent of the time, they become inactive when the current stops, we fish for them slowly with Carolina-rigged soft plastic or jigs-and-pigs.

Dock Patterns
We wish it weren't true but docks hold lots of bass.
Why do we wish fish didn't relate to docks? We enjoy fishing away from people, and we would prefer to catch fish from natural cover rather than man-made cover.
We simply enjoy pulling fish from natural structure more so than from underneath boat-docks. But having said this, we seldom go fishing without throwing our lures around boat-docks, and we have been known to spend an entire day fishing docks. And please remember this: as soon as you have learned which of the following techniques will work on a given day, the rest of the day, that is your boat-dock pattern.
If it suddenly quits working, start over using the various techniques listed below until you determine which one will work under the changed conditions. you use this approach, almost invariably you can catch fish around docks.

Dock Brushpiles
People who own docks usually put brush around their docks. These are a lake's easiest brush piles to find, and you might think they would be over-fished but they are not. Look for rod-holders mounted on the docks. Rod holder almost always point at where the brush has been placed.
Work slowly and thoroughly. Boat docks are not easy to fish. Your casts have to be accurate and you need to probe as deeply in and around the dock as you can. The further you can pitch a lure under the dock, the better.
Guido and Dion Hibdon, as well as several other touring pros, have developed skipping lures under boat docks into an art form. Lures that work best for this purpose are Gitzits, Slug-O's, Jigs-and-Pigs, and Floating Worms. Persistence pays off. Sometimes it is the tenth cast into an area that gets the bite. Fish slow and jiggle the lure often





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Flipping and Pitching
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Crankbaits I
Crankbaits II
Crankbaits III

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Pattern Fishing
Patterning Bass
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Fizzing Bass
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