Knowledge of the waters fished may be half the battle

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Keith Nelson and Carl Thomas, Independence, Mo., were waiting and watching for teal near Four Rivers Wildlife Area when the subject of fishing different lakes came up. Both anglers have fished tournaments before and were comparing lakes they had fished. It might be of value to other anglers who usually don't give a thought about the water they fish in.

Nelson said, " No two lakes are alike, each one is a separate living thing, made up of water chemistry, weed growth, bottom structure as well as fish and aquatic life."

A complete understanding of the study of the science of lakes is called limnology and requires years of hard work, which isn't necessary to the average angler like you and I. However, a little knowledge about is necessary to help fishermen read water quickly and effectively.

Years ago, a Missouri Conservation Department agent, Earl Coleman, told me, " A big portion of the water in all lakes, whether urban or wilderness, contains no fish." We were fishing Lake Jacomo at the time.

Coleman pointed out a stretch of water where he had never seen a fish caught. However, there always seemed to be anglers fishing from the bank, but never catching fish. Coleman said he had never checked a fisherman fishing that water that had caught a fish.

Anglers know that fish do concentrate, and to catch them, you must know where the fish are. You must know why, where and when they move in order to catch them with any consistency.

Of course, lakes, fish and fishing techniques vary from lake to lake, area to area, season to season and day to day. There is no set formula to cover all places and occasions. But, putting your knowledge of the fish's general habits and your capacity for reading a lake's basic type and underwater shape is what angling is all about.

Finding the fish quickly and then presenting the right type of lure for the occasion in the right way is the secret to success.

In fishing over the country, experience has shown me that there is usually too much variation in nature to accommodate a simple system to classify a certain lake. However, I do classify a lake by the predominate or most numerous game fish and the composition of the lake. In most of these lakes there are other species present, but usually there is one predominate species.

Certain lakes just as certain land that will grow better crops than others. The water chemistry, etc, will determine the type of fish most likely to be abundant in it. Some lakes are largemouth bass water, others are smallmouth bass, walleye or panfish lakes. Each thrive because special conditions are present for their success.

Always fish for the predominate species in any lake. This makes good sense and playing the averages.

In Missouri, for example, Table Rock is one lake that has well defined terrain and has a long shoreline in relation to surface area and the bottom conditions vary greatly. The lake is famous for largemouth bass, but white bass and crappie constitute a considerable fishery as do catfish among other species.

Most anglers know that some excellent fishing can be found in farm ponds, but even there, it to be able to read the water.

Farm ponds can be found all over the state. These ponds are usually small ranging from one acre to as many as 20 acres. In many cases there is no drop-off and weed growth takes up the entire bottom. Here bass will thrive and many times grow to lunker proportions. By the same token, stunting is a danger as these ponds are highly fertile.

A phenomenon occurs frequently in these ponds, and that is bass become conditioned to lures thrown at them and become almost impossible to catch.

An angler who wants to catch fish can help his chances if he knows the lakes the fish live in as well as the fish themselves.

Outdoor Notes

Archery deer and turkey season opened Monday and hunters report seeing lots of both.

Meanwhile, the teal, snipe and rail seasons are also going full swing. Firearm fall turkey hunters will have the entire month of October once again to bad a Thanksgiving bird. Hunting is taking over the spotlight, but fishing is still going strong. Its a great time of year to be in the outdoors.

Among some of the better catches of the week is a 47 pound flathead catfish caught by Tom Walker, Lee's Summit, below Truman dam. A nine pound bass taken by Harry Underwood from table rock and a 10 pound walleye from Stockton by Fred Davis, Bolivar.