BassWestUSA - May/June 2009, Page 71

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tidal mentality Focus On The Predictable



a firm believer this game we play, in chasing the black bass, is really just a huge men- tal affair, that begins and has an infinite place in our own hearts. I’d like to share my thoughts on two subjects, tides and our mental approach to bass fishing. I never chase the tide. I get up in the morning, jump in my boat and go fishing. My daily fishing areas are based on pat- terns and those areas that I know have con- centrations of fish. There are two aspects I rely on here, play to the bass’ mood, and rely on the understanding of its biologi- cal nature. Bass fishing is a mental game, and you’ve got to put yourself in a spiritual state to understand and figure them out, not understand and figure out their envi- ronment. Too many anglers focus on the wrong elements. The environment is un- controllable and constantly changing, it’s unpredictable. But a bass’ biological state, is constant, they ARE predictable. The first aspect, that is a constant, the tidal changes, dictates a bass’ position in a given area. Bass make minimal adjust- ments depending on whether the tide is high, low, incoming or outgoing. At times, current movement, as we know with any bass in any body of water, tends to stimu- late their feeding tendencies. Yet just be- cause it’s not moving one way or the other, or that it’s dead flat at high or low, doesn’t mean you can’t catch them all the time, you can! Bass have three typical moods in re- gards to feeding. The positive feeding mood, where bass are fast to strike and crush baits the instant they hit the water or bopping a bait before it hits the bottom. Those are the easy fish; any of us can catch those. Anglers, who chase the tide, key on these fish. That’s okay to do, for a certain number of days, until that easy tide your chasing is reversed next week. Now you’re struggling to catch them. You’ve allowed a negative thought process, “I don’t have the right tide”, to filter into

your brain. You’ve mentally put yourself at a disadvantage. The second mood is a neutral feeding mode. This is when a bass is either on his way up to feed or just finished feeding. The last mood is that negative feeding mode, the bass is suspended, transitioning or hunkered down in cover, like during a high- pressure movement in the weather. These two periods in a bass’ daily cycle are peri- ods that most of us are exposed to all the time. It is the most difficult state for us to catch them. The key here during these two mood swings, is you have to have the un- derstanding of how to catch them, by trig- gering strikes, hence attacking the bass’ natural sense of aggression and curiosity. These are the fish I prefer to chase. There are far more fish in these two tough modes, than aggressive feeders up shallow. There are more concentrations of these fish during less than ideal “tidal conditions”, as thought of by most anglers out here. You have far more water to cover during ALL tidal phases searching for bass in these two modes. It’s a numbers thing, playing the percentages to where it’s in your favor. Focus on making that pitch or cast to where that aggressive fish might be, but position yourself so that on that same cast you can probe, search and cover areas where the less aggressive fish are also. The second aspect is the bass’ biologi- cal make up. This fish, unlike others that move around more and strive in current, a bass’ body mass is not designed to allow

Focus on making that pitch or cast to where that aggres- sive fish might be, but position yourself so that on that same cast you can probe, search and cover areas where the less aggressive fish are also.

him to be in such conditions all the time. A bass’ body mass doesn’t afford him the opportunity to always be moving up and down the water column, especially our bigger bass. Those are the fish I target, as they’re very predictable. For a big bass to move around a lot it will feed more to sustain the energy levels required to do so. Bass don’t move around a lot and they’ll feed less. So they feed ag- gressively and in such an optimal fashion that little energy is spent to attain the most desirable results from their feeding. They’re always looking for a big meal. One that they can acquire, and not have to feed again for extended periods, burning less energy and optimizing what they’ve eaten, yet spend- ing as little energy in their efforts to do so. When a big bass is sitting in 6-12 foot of water on a high tide, when that tide drops 3 feet, it’s still very comfortable at that depth and still has plenty of water over head. It becomes easier to target on the low tide as its environment is exposed. This thought process can be applied year round, especially in areas where no current is present. You still have a rise and fall of the water level, but that bass doesn’t have to rely on some specific piece of cover or structure to stay out of the current flow to where it has to sustain a position and burn energy. In areas with strong current, a big bass is likely looking for a sweet spot where there is an eddy to comfortably relax and sit in. Whether it is a point, tulle island or a dock, it will make a minor adjustment in position, to find that optimal spot where it can be real lazy and wait. The current produced during tidal swings has a negative effect on a big bass. It’s all about the laws of gravity and their biological make up. More surface mass on a big bass’s body, placed in the current flow, creates an undesirable amount of resistance for that big fish. It forc- es the fish to work harder to be lazy. And that big bass prefers to be lazy, rather than over work. BW

May/June 2009