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In rising water, most species of fish move toward shore or upstream. A rise can be associated with increased oxygen, more favorable water temperatures and an influx of food organisms.
During falling water, fish movement is downstream or toward deeper water. During changing, unstable weather and dramatic temperature changes, fish feed sparingly.
Every species has a temperature preference, the temperature at which they are most comfortable. They will seek this temperature all during the year.
Turbid water or cloudy days cut down light penetration, encouraging nocturnal feeders to forage during day-light hours. Also, many predatory fish will feed throughout the day in shallow water, even in hot summer weather.
Barometric pressure seems to provide fish with the same stimulation as water fluctuations. Falling pressure influences fish to become more active along shorelines, whereas rising pressure leads to a decrease in fish activity and poorer fishing.
Wind action creates alternatives in the fish's environment. On a cool, windy summer day, the windward bank may present temperatures and oxygen levels more favorable to his disposition. Wind may also concentrate forage.
Wind direction does seem to affect fishing. The phrase "...winds in the east, fish bite least...." seems generally true, although the wind direction itself may not be as important as the accompanying climatic factors.
Cloud cover, turbidity, rain and cooler air masses will all cause cooling, stimulating fish movement in summer. Weather that has a warming effect on water may also set off increased activity.
The fish comfort zone in summer is referred to as the "thermocline." It varies in depth and thickness, depending on the size and shape of a reservoir. Temperature and oxygen levels in this zone usually favor the comfort of most species. Avoid fishing below the thermocline in summer due to low oxygen levels.
Large predators are most effective in lower light conditions, when their greater size is easier to conceal while foraging.
During early spring the northern portion of ponds and reservoirs tend to warm faster and will stimulate more activity than other areas. Turbid water will warm faster and cool slower than clear water. In early spring, look for fish to move out of clear water into turbid water. In summer, find fish in clear water during morning and evening.
The rate of digestion in largemouth bass and most other species is very slow below 65 degrees. Lower energy consumption and growth cessation reduces the fishes' need for food.
Fish that are actively feeding are generally more susceptible to being caught than those not feeding. However, the assumption "the hungrier the fish, the easier to catch" is not always true.
During the spawning period of certain species, the spawning activity is the dominant biological drive and feeding activity may be reduced. However, some spawning fish may defend their territories by striking a lure placed in their area.
The catching fish of species which feed primarily by sight can be difficult when water visibility is less than two feet.
Bait or lure selection, placement and action should approach the natural food organism of the species sought. Learn more about forage species such as crayfish or aquatic insects by turning over rocks in the water.
Be persistent, vary your lures, colors and baits, keep them moving and do not spend more than 15 minutes in one location unless you are catching fish. Do these things, and you'll increase your chances for success.
Fish vary in their ability to distinguish color, but most have some ability. Red is the all-around most responsive color. Blue and purple are most visible in deep water.
Combining an appeal to the taste, smell, feel and sight will increase the catch of any species. It has been suggested that live bait emits an "injured" odor and distress signal.
Fish in deep water look for food on their own visual plane or lower, whereas fish feeding near the surface tend to blend vertical and horizontal movement.
Practice working lures in shallow water to observe their action.
Subtle changes in speed and retrieval techniques can be important. Experts claim technique makes the difference in 90 percent of bass catches. Generally, work lures faster in warm water and slower in cold water.