BassWestUSA - May/June 2009, Page 60

Bluegills

like

most anglers, Elite Series pro Dave Wolak caught hundreds of bluegills and other panfish as a young boy. Eventually, he turned his atten- tion to bass – after all, they’re bigger and that’s where the money is, right? Well, sort of. Wolak put himself squarely on the national radar screen by winning the 2006 Bassmaster American on Lake Wylie. While the 20 bass he weighed in to outlast big hitters like KVD, Gerald Swindle, Mark Menendez and Jason Quinn may have been the di- rect reason for his win, he never would

as the Key to Tournament-Winning Bass Catches

have cashed the $253,000 check were it not for the clues provided by the semi-lowly bluegill. Wolak locked in on bluegill spawning areas to pinpoint the lo- cation of his winning limits of bass. So did most of the other top finishers, and while it’s a pattern that can be pursued every year virtually everywhere that bass swim, most of the pros aren’t talking about it. The following is a breakdown of how you can locate and exploit this key pattern on a lake near you.

By Pete Robbins

No C ane Po les A

“Bass and bluegills depend on each other,” said former Bass- master Classic champion and fisheries biologist Ken Cook. “And this bite happens anywhere bluegills live. They’re colony spawn- ers. It happens with other species of sunfish, too, like red ears and shellcrackers, but they’re usually a little bit deeper and harder to locate.” The pattern usually develops when the water temperature approaches the 70 degree mark. At that point, most of the bass are off the nests and the bluegills move into the same areas to pursue their own reproductive efforts. But while the bass have somewhat recov- ered from the spawn and want to feed up, their smaller counterparts are preoccupied and weak. “The bass will sit just at the edge of visibility,” Cook continued. “If it’s an inside

interspecies interaction

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May/June 2009