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Big Bass Spots: Why Trophy Bass Want to Be Where They Want to Be

Posted: July 8th, 2015 by Bill Dance

NOTE: This is the first of a two-part blog. Be sure to look for PART II in the ensuing blog.

“That’s a big-bass spot.” Or how about, “I always seem to catch a big bass over there in that section of a lake.”

Have you ever heard or even said such a thing to yourself?

It’s most likely you have, because after all the whereabouts of trophy bass is always paramount to all of us anglers.

When I hear some of my deer hunting friends talk about trophy bucks, they readily admit big bucks have home-range tendencies. And I have no doubt big bass are the same way.

As long as the structural features don’t change and in many waters they want, unless major currents destroy it, big bass will remain in their same haunts.

Fisheries biologist at Southern Illinois University (SIU) studied the bass populations in a lake and came to the conclusion that bass do have home-range tendencies. I agree with them whole-heartedly, and know of many experiences in my many years of fishing that have also proven the point.

SIU research (conducted via electro-fishing, tagging, and catch-and-release) showed percentages of recaptured fish were very high. In fact, 96 percent that did occupy the shoreline were recaptured within 300 feet of the spot where they were first caught and marked for identification. Some fish were recaptured 3 or 4 times, always within the same area.

Studies show that bass spend a lot of time away from shore. Only 1.2 percent of the fish were found on the shore at any one time on the average. Most of bass were in deep water the majority of the time. But when they move shallow the same bass return to the same segment of shoreline. This tells me there is definitely something to home-range tendencies.

I remember Jewel Simmons a guide at the Little Red River Boat Dock, a tributary that was impounded to form Greers Ferry Lake. Now, there were always “pet bass” – those fish that routinely seen and even caught and released around the docks.

Well, six miles down the lake Sugar Loaf Marina was hosting a tagged-bass tournament, where bass were tagged and worth money and other prizes for the anglers that caught them. Lloyd’s of London even insured one or two bass for some amount, maybe $25,000 or $50,000, I can’t remember exactly. But Jewel caught six of the pet bass around the dock where he worked and carried them down to Sugar Loaf where they were tagged and released a week or two before the tournament.

Three days later, Jewel saw a fish swimming along the dock where he worked–with a tag. A few days later another tagged fish showed up, and eventually after a week five of the six tagged fish were back at the dock–six miles from where they had been tagged. He even caught one of the fish to prove to himself, it was the same tagged fish.

To me that’s strong evidence of home-range tendencies. But of course, I have many other examples. Like once when I was fishing a tournament on Greers Ferry out of Eden Isle. A guy fishing the tournament caught a fish in a cove the first day of the tournament, and later at the weigh-in, 11 miles away the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission tagged and released it. Well, on the last day of the tournament the same angler returned to the cove and caught that same tagged bass, and another tagged fish as well. The bass had moved 11 miles in three days, to be in its home range. There has to be something to this.

Note: Look for the remainder of this column to continue in my next blog.

As always, catch one for me!

Bill Dance

Tennessee

Emerald Coast

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