Category Archives: Bass Fishing

Bass Fishing Information

Secrets About Bass Populations

Electrofishing At Night Reveals Secrets About Bass Populations
by Mark Latti, Maine Inland Fisheries & Wildlife
from The Fishing Wire

Boat for electrofishing


The electrofishing boat has two booms which deliver an electric current into the water.
Each year during late May and early June, the regional office gets a phone call or two about some strange things happening during the wee hours of the morning on some local lake or pond. I even had one caller exclaim once that a UFO had landed on the pond! If you see such a thing, rest assured it is probably not a UFO, but rather your regional fisheries staff working late nights to collect fishery resource information.

Each year about this time, the regional fisheries staff of the Sebago Lakes Region sample 2-4 different waters to collect baseline information on the bass population(s), as well as determine the relative abundance of other fish species. Sampling is done at this time of year during the night, because the fish are more likely to be in shallower water spawning and are less likely to be spooked by the approach of a boat.

Each bass is measured and weighed, so biologists get a clearer picture of the bass population in the lake.
This sampling is performed with an electrofishing boat. A what? An electrofishing boat has an onboard generator that delivers an electric current into the water, which temporarily stuns the fish so they can be collected with nets. Because the work is done in pitch black conditions, there are lots and lots of lights, beepers, and motor sounds…no wonder we get mistaken for aliens!

Prior to sampling, we survey the shoreline habitat of each lake (in daylight) and categorize the shoreline habitat into different habitat types (i.e. sand, cobble/rubble, muck with weeds, etc.) and mark the start and end of each with a GPS unit. Since most lakes are too large to sample the entire shoreline in a night. We then take the habitat data for the entire lake and develop partial sampling transects of each habitat type relative to their proportion in the lake. Once determined, coordinates for these sampling transects are entered back into the GPS, so we can navigate in the dark.

The boat hugs the shoreline and biologists are ready to net any fish that are temporarily stunned.
The boat is operated by a crew of three, one boat driver and two netters. Fish are stunned, netted, and placed into a live well for each transect. After one or two transects are sampled, the bass are anesthetized then each is measured, weighed, and returned to the lake or pond to recover. This work is repeated for each transect until completed, which is typically sometime between 2:00 and 3:00 a.m.

Sometimes the night drags into early morning, but the onboard work lights allow biologists to accurately measure and record the data they need.
To date, we have collected baseline data on about 50 regional bass waters. This baseline length, weight, size class structure and catch per unit of effort data (abundance) on bass gives us a basis for categorizing waters by fishery quality, comparing populations or performance among other regional waters, and for evaluating changes in population characteristics over time due to varying regulations, environmental conditions, or other variables.

The next time your “upta camp”, beware of those nocturnal biologists. Hopefully, we will not be interrupting your peaceful evening, but if we do…it’s all to evaluate, protect, and enhance our important fishery resources.

The controls at the helm of the electrofishing boat are a little more complex than most center consoles.

Once the fish are measured, they are released back into the water, so lunkers like this one can be caught again.

Bass Fishing At Night

Fishing a club tournament last weekend at Clarks Hill strongly reminded me of why I like night fishing this time of year. We fished 17 hours – 6:00 AM to 3:00 PM Saturday and 6:00 AM to 2:00 PM Sunday. It was hot, and the fish didn’t bite very well.

When I was a teacher and school administrator I had summers off. Several times each summer I would leave Griffin and get to my place at Raysville Boat Club on Clarks Hill Sunday afternoon about 6:00 PM. After unloading and getting the boat in the water I would fish topwater until dark, about 9:00. I caught some big bass, several over six pounds each, doing that.

Then I would come in, shower, eat and go back out and fish all night. In the dark I caught bass on Texas rigged plastic worms, spinnerbaits and crankbaits. Most were smaller, in the one to two-pound range. As soon as the sky started lightening up the next morning I would switch back to topwater and often catch some bigger fish.

As soon as the sun started getting hot, usually around 9:00 AM it was time to go in, shower and eat again then go to bed and sleep until about 5:00 PM and do it all over again. I would do that for a week at a time.

It was great fishing at night during the week. The lake was peaceful and quiet, with no boats on the water with me. I saw lots of critters from beaver to deer doing their night activities. And I caught fish every night.

Back then it was popular to have a “black light,” an ultraviolet light, shining out from your boat. It made your line shine, so you could see it, and also had a regular light feature that let you see what you were doing in the dark.

I never tried that. When fishing in the dark I wanted it completely dark, with no light. I did try a regular light. I had read about using a purple spinnerbait at night and I discovered I caught a few fish with one if a light was on, but never got a bite on a worm. But I caught more on the spinnerbait, and a lot on worms, with no light at all.

Linda fished with me one night on Labor Day weekend and it was so dark I could not see my reel in my hand. We were fishing a deep, rocky bank with worms and she said she thought she had a bite. I told her to set the hook.

I felt the boat rock and heard her say “It feels like a big one.” Then there was a huge splash out in the dark. I picked up the net and put it over the side of the boat but could see nothing and did not dare shine a light on the water and spook the fish.

Another splash closer to the boat made me nervous since I knew I could not net it, then it jumped a third time, right into the net! That seven-pound, ten ounce bass hangs on our wall.

Clarks Hill August Tournament

In the Flint River Bass Club tournament only four of us showed up. We weighed in ten bass weighing about 15 pounds and one fisherman didn’t weigh in anything.

I won with eight weighing 11.90 pounds and had big fish with a 4.62 pound largemouth. JJ Polak had one at 2.19 pounds for second and Chuck Croft had one at 1.04 pounds for third.

The other three wanted to quit at noon both days but club rules say times are set at the meeting. The first day everyone was there at 3:00 but Sunday I was the only one, the other three gave up at 10:00 that morning and went home!

I started Saturday morning on a bridge riprap and landed three keepers, one on a spinnerbait and two on a crankbait, before the sun came up. Then I tried a bunch of deep rocks and brush I had located with my electronics on Thursday and Friday in practice.
I caught one on a rock pile in 20 feet of water.

I was real frustrated about 8:00. The third place I had planned on fishing some deep rocks and brush in 22 feet of water on a long main lake point with fish holding on them. But when I got where I could see it there were two boats anchored on it, fishing live bait. I saw one catch what looked like a keeper bass but never got to fish there that day.

Sunday morning, I headed to the bridge and caught one keeper on a spinnerbait but an hour later, after trying several baits, never got another bite. I next went to a deep rockpile where I have caught fish in the past and had seen some on it on Friday, but I guess they were crappie. I had got several bites on it Saturday but never hooked a fish, and that repeated Sunday morning.

Some brush was near those rocks and I had fished them Saturday without a bite, and almost didn’t go to it. But I did, and at 8:00 got a thump on a shaky head worm jiggling it in 25 feet deep in the brush straight under the boat. It was the 4.62 pounder.

I then headed to the main lake point and there were no boats on it. I managed to catch my third keeper on it on a drop shot worm as soon as I stopped but got no more bites after more than an hour.

At 12:20 I went back to the brush where I caught the big one and caught my second biggest fish out of it on a Carolina rig. That was it and I had to weigh-in all by myself.

I wish we would fish at night but this weekend the Potato Creek Bassmasters is fishing Lake Weiss from 6:30 AM to 3:00 PM Sunday and 6:30 AM to 2:00 PM Sunday! And I will be there.

Terrible Tournament at Jackson Lake

A week ago last Sunday 15 members and guests of the Spalding County Sportsman Club fished our July tournament at Jackson Lake. We also had one youth competitor. After fishing from 5:30 AM to noon, we brought in 38 keeper bass weighing about 43 pounds. There were no limits and one fisherman didn’t catch a keeper. There were 11 largemouth and 27 spots landed.

Glenn Anderson won with three weighing 6.52 pounds and had big fish with a 2.38 pound largemouth. Niles
Murray placed second with four weighing 5.54 pounds, Kwong Yu was third with four at 4.96 pounds and Jay Gerson had three weighing 4.03 pounds for fourth.

Jackson Terry, our only youth competitor, had one weighing 1.59 pounds and won that division. And he beat me and several other adults!

Fish were reportedly caught on a variety of baits, from buzzbaits to shaky head worms. I guessed wrong. I had gone to Jackson on Thursday to look around and went way up the Alcovy River where the water was cooler, had a little stain and was flowing. I caught one keeper and lost two more in the hour I fished there.

In my vast wisdom I figured all the rain the two days before the tournament had muddied up the river, so I stayed in Tussahaw Creek. Of course, several of the people that finished in the top five or six said they went up the Alcovy and the water was not muddy.

I could not get a bite on anything but a shaky head worm and landed one keeper. Several other fish made a fool out of me. At least three times I cast right beside a seawall and when I started tightening up my line it stayed slack. By the time I caught up with the fish it was all the way out back under the boat and I did not get a good hookset and lost the fish.

I did learn from those first three and when it happened the fourth time, as soon as I realized my line was slack I set the hook, and landed a 1.10-pound spot, my only keeper. Then I got lazy and let two more get back out under the boat before setting the hook. In my mind I should have landed five more fish, and I saw two of them as they came off that looked like keepers.

I did catch several spots about 11 inches long and kept them to eat. That size bass tastes good, is easy to filet and need to be killed. Spots have overpopulated some of our lakes so badly there is no size limit on them. If you go to Jackson, West Point or other lakes with lots of little spots, keep some to eat.

Frustrating Tournament At Sinclair

Last Saturday 20 members of the Potato Creek Bassmasters fished out July tournament at Lake Sinclair. After fishing from 5:30 AM till noon, we brought in 38 12-inch keeper bass weighing about 60 pounds. There were three five-fish limits and eight members did not weigh in a keeper.

Lee Hancock won with five weighing 8.95 pounds, Raymond English was second with five weighing 8.46 pounds, Kwong Yu placed third with five at 8.04 pounds and Jack Ridgeway came in fourth with two weighing 6.80 pounds and had big fish with a 5.90 pound largemouth.

William Scott and I started on a lighted dock, usually a good plan, but did not get a bite. Our second stop was a dock where I caught my first keeper under a light the week before, but the light was not on and we got no bites there, either.

After making a short run to the cove where
I caught my best fish on topwater baits the week before, I landed my first keeper on a buzzbait. Then my second one hit a shaky head worm about 6:30 AM. William then got a keeper on a worm a few minutes later.

The next cove produced my third keeper at 7:15. We decided to go back to the cove that had produced three keepers for us, and as we started on one side we saw club member Tom Tanner fishing the opposite side. We did not get a bite, but Tom told me he caught three keepers in that cove. We had left it too soon!

We then went to some of William’s favorite places and I got a small keeper, my fourth, off a dock he said we should not bother fishing. I went to it because it was in the shade and just felt like a place to fish to me.

That was it, we fished all kinds of cover and structure till weigh-in but never caught another fish. My four weighed a whopping 3.99 pounds, not even a pound each. The weekend before I had five and four were about that size but the three pounder I landed in that tournament made the difference. We just could not get the bigger fish to bite.

Fishing will be tough on our area lakes for the next two or three months, before it gets better as water starts to cool. Most bass are feeding at night right now and it is just tough to catch them during the day. And it is hot and rough from all the pleasure boats. My preference is to fish at night this time of year, but all our tournaments are during the day.

Loving Lake Martin

Largemouth I caught while fishing with Michael Ward

Although I grew up on Clarks Hill, have been fishing it all my life and still have a mobile home on a lot at Raysville Boat Club, I think Lake Martin in Alabama is my favorite lake anywhere. Last week I got to spend a day on it with Michael Ward, doing “research” for an Alabama Outdoor News September Map of the Month article.

Martin is a pretty Alabama Power Company lake on the Tallapossa River about 2.5 hours from Griffin. Its clear water is full of spotted bass. I caught my first spot there in 1975 in a Sportsman Club tournament, my first trip to it. I have been going back at least twice a year every year since then.

All three clubs here in Griffin have a two-day tournament there in October each year, so I am not used to fishing it during the summer. Michael suggested we start at 3:45 AM to beat the heat and catch fish. Sounded like a good idea but after fishing lighted docks for two hours with only one bass, it was clear that didn’t work too well.

As the sun came up we tried topwater, still with no bites. But after it got bright and hot we started catching some bass from deep brush piles Michael had placed in the lake. He fishes tournaments every week on Martin and does well in them, partially because he works to create cover for the fish.

The fish hit shaky head worms and jigs during the day, a good pattern on any lake. Those spots fight hard and are fun to catch. We did catch a few largemouth, too, but spots are the dominate species in the lake.

I usually camp at Wind Creek State Park but stayed in a motel in Alexander City on this trip. I prefer camping. It is cheaper and more relaxing but when doing an article, I usually just stay in a motel on my trips since it is somewhat easier, and, after all, these trips are work trips!

Plan a trip to Martin this fall. You will enjoy the scenery even if you don’t go fishing.

Lake Chatuge BASS Angler of the Year Championship Preview

When I was growing up in the 1950s and early 60s my family took a week-long trip to the mountains every summer. We drove up to the area around Hiawasee on the Georgia/North Carolina border and visited all the popular tourist sites.

Back then things were very different. Roadside stores that had everything from gas to groceries often had a bear cub chained outside under a tree and you could buy a five-cent coke and give it to him. The bear would greedily turn it up and drink it down.

I learned about scams early in my life on those trips. One place had a covered cage with a sign “see a copperhead and baby rattler 5 cents.” I paid my nickel expecting to see two snakes. Instead, under the cover was a copper penny, heads up, and a baby rattle. I was disappointed but learned a valuable lesson.

We did see majestic views from overlooks, and I was moved by the outdoor play “Unto These Hills’” the story of the Cherokee Indians being forced from their homeland to Oklahoma on the Trail of Tears.

We stopped more than one year at caves and I fell in love with the wonderous beauty of what water and minerals can do under ground over thousands of years. And rocks were everywhere, many kinds that I had never seen. I always came home with many for my rock collection. We even panned for gold and gems at one place on one of these trips.

We traveled cheap, staying at small motels and eating sandwiches at roadside parks for lunch. We did go out to dinner each night, usually at a small dinner that served basic food at a low cost.

I have good and bad memories of those trips. Fighting in the back seat with my younger brother was always a problem, and one day at lunch I turned up my coke without noticing a yellowjacket on the bottle mouth. My lip was swollen for several days that year!

Those memories were brought back to me last week when I went to Lake Chatuge for a Georgia Outdoor News September Map of the Month article. BASS is having their Angler of the Year Championship at Chatuge in September and this article will be a preview of what might work for them.

In the Angler of the Year Championship, the top 50 fishermen on the Elite Series are invited to fish against each other for points and money. It is a fun tournament for most of them, only three or four are still close enough in the points to make it mean much. It should be an interesting tournament.

Chatuge is a beautiful, clear, deep lake with mountains ringing it, making it very scenic all times of the year. And it has big spotted bass as well as a good population of largemouth. I went out with Cas Anderson, a high school fisherman that lives on the lake and won the points standings in the Georgia BASS Nation high school series this year.

He said the tournament will probably be won with a limit of spots weighing 16 to 18 pounds each day in the three-day tournament. Cas did say one of the pros might lead for one day with largemouth, but they are so scattered it would be hard to catch enough to win a three-day tournament.

We caught a good many keeper spots fishing brush in 20 feet of water on points and humps and saw some schooling fish we could not get to hit our baits. Cas said in September the fish will be even deeper and most quality fish needed to win will be at least 30 feet deep.

Chatuge would be a great lake for a fishing trip with the family. There are lots of interesting things to do other than fishing. And going up to watch the pros in September might be a good way to learn something about catching bass.

July Tournament at Sinclair

Last Sunday 13 members and guests of the Flint River Bass Club fished our July tournament at Sinclair. In nine hours of casting we landed 26 12-inch keepers weighing about 36 pounds. There were three five-fish limits and four fishermen didn’t catch a keeper.

I won with five weighing 7.66 pounds and my 3.35 pound largemouth was big fish. Chuck Croft was second with five weighing 7.40 pounds, Niles Murray was third with five at 5.65 and Phil King placed fourth with two weighing 3.72 pounds.

My partner Brandon Bailey and I headed down the lake, planning on starting on a grass bed in a cove, but I saw a dock with a light on and decided to stop there. After several casts with topwater I picked up a Texas rigged worm and a keeper grabbed it before it hit bottom and took off, hooking itself. My first keeper at 6:15, a good start.

A nearby dock has deep brush on it so I eased over to it and started casting. After a few casts with the worm the first one hit, I picked up a jig and pig to fish the deeper brush. A thump made me set the hook and my heart almost stopped, it was a big fish. After a few seconds I calmed down a little and told my partner it was a catfish since it was rolling. I kept hoping I was wrong until a 12 to 15-pound blue cat came to the surface.

After netting it and getting the slime off my line, and letting my hands stop shaking, we ran to the grassbed I had planned on starting on, and quickly caught a keeper on a buzzbait then the big fish on a popper. On a nearby dock where I had never caught a fish I landed my fourth keeper on a shaky head worm at 8:15.

Brandon and I fished hard for the next six hours and he caught a keeper on a dock. Then, with three minutes left to fish, I landed my fifth keeper by a dock on a shaky head worm. It turned out to be the difference between first and second place!

That’s why I never give up until the last second.

Fishing Weiss Lake

When your wife decides everything in the house you have lived in for 37 years is unsatisfactory and plans to renovate it, that is a good time to go to the lake for a couple of weeks. So I did, heading to Lake Weiss for five days and then straight to Clarks Hill for another week.

Unfortunately, work was slow and I came home a week too early!

Weekend before last the Spalding County Sportsman Club held our June tournament at Lake Weiss. Ten members and two guests fished 16 hours in two very hot days to land 45 keeper bass weighing about 80 pounds. There were two five-fish limits and two fishermen did not catch a keeper.

Jay Gerson won with nine bass weighing 14.74 pounds. He had a limit the first day and four the second day. Glenn Anders on brought in six keepers weighing 12.49 pounds for second, my six at 9.74 pounds was third and Raymond English was fourth with eight bass weighing 8.52 pounds. Kwong Yu had a 4.95 pound largemouth for big fish.

I spent two days trying to find a pattern for the tournament. The first day I quickly hooked a keeper on a buzzbait so I thought that would be a good way to start each morning. But then I fished shallow water hard to land only one keeper on a worm in the next three hours of casting buzzbaits and worms.

All afternoon, until a thunderstorm drove me off the lake, I rode open water ledges and points looking for fish. I could see fish on my electronics but could not get them to bite. Fish in open water often just hold in place, not feeding, until current makes them active. There was no current.

Friday morning, I caught a nice keeper up shallow around some grass on a chatterbait but that was my only bite shallow. Again, I rode deep structure and found excellent cover like brush piles and rocks, with fish on them, but got no bites. Since some Weiss bass are known to feed very shallow, even in hot water, and I could not get any bites out deep, I told my partner Chris Davies we would probably fish shallow all day both days.

Saturday morning we started on a rocky bank and within a few minutes I landed a 3.46 pound Coosa spotted bass on a spinnerbait, a good start. That fired me up but in the next hour I missed one bite on a frog and nothing else fishing spinnerbaits, buzzbaits and frogs while Chris tried a variety of baits.

We then fished some docks and I landed a little largemouth on a shaky head worm, so I hoped that was a pattern. Over the next five hours we fished all kinds of shallow cover, and Chris caught five keepers, the only other limit in the tournament, but I never hooked one.

At 1:00 on a windblown rocky bank I landed my third keeper on a spinnerbait. That was it for the day and at weigh-in Chris was in third place with 7.66 pounds and I was in fifth with 5.57 pounds, a very disappointing day. There were two four-pound bass weighed in making my spot third biggest fish, but most with a big fish caught only one or two more to go with it, like me.

Sunday morning, we tried a different starting place, running to some lighted docks, but got no strikes. As it got light we ran way up a creek to some grass beds where I have caught fish in past years but did not get a bite. At 7:30 we fished up a shady bank and I landed a small keeper on a spinnerbait, then on another small grassy point I caught two keepers close together on the spinnerbait.

For the next six hours we tried everything we could think of, fishing different places and a variety of baits, but neither of us ever got another bite.

At weigh-in Jay, after leading the first day, held on to first with his four keepers. But the others ahead of me the first day either zeroed or had one small fish. Glenn moved up from sixth to second with three nice fish and I moved up to third with my three small ones. Raymond moved up from seventh to fourth with four keepers, the most anyone other than Jay caught that day.

You never know what will happen in a tournament, as this shows. That is why I try to never give up until the last cast is made.

I heard the better fish were caught on buzzbits, but Chris and I never got a bite on one. I guess we were fishing the wrong places. I caught only one on a shaky head in two days but Chris caught all five of his on Saturday on one. The fishing was very tough and inconsistent!

Hope you had a great, safe Independence Day and remembered the reasons we celebrate, and kept the military that keeps us free and safe in your thoughts.

How Do You Track Wandering Habits of Smallmouth Bass?

Radios Reveal Wandering Habits of Smallmouth Bass in Oklahoma
Angler-funded research lends greater understanding of one of America’s greatest sport fish

By Craig Springer, USFWS
from The Fishing Wire

Pretty Oklahoma smallmouth stream


About the time that redbuds flash their pretty pinkish blooms on eastern Oklahoma’s hillsides and gray streamside sycamores unfurl their fresh leaves the color akin to a wet lime, there’s something curious going on.

And it goes mostly sight unseen.

Smallmouth bass are on the move with the singular purpose of procreation. As Planet Earth wobbles back to the vernal position the daylight lengthens, shadows shorten and the creeks warm. These cues signal to what is arguably America’s top freshwater sport fish that it’s time to spawn.

The fish that ardent anglers call “bronzeback,” hold a renowned reputation as energized packets of fish flesh. Twitch a floating stickbait on slick water over a dark pool at dusk or drag a crayfish-colored club-tailed jig over a gravelly run, and then hang on. The fight of this fish is always outsized. And expect a few leaps out of the water before you feel on your thumb its raspy lip at release. A plucky flip of the tail fin, a splash, and off it goes.

Smallmouth bass are an angler’s favorite—have been for years since well before former U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service scientist and medical doctor, James Henshall, branded the species the “gamest fish that swims” in his 1881 tome, Book of the Black Bass. It’s still in print, by the way.

If you’ve caught one, you’re not hearing anything new. You know the “arrowy rush” that Henshall spoke of. And if you’re a licensed angler, take heart in knowing that you are helping pay for leading-edge research into the whereabouts of smallmouth bass in select Oklahoma streams, that in the end can improve a strain of bronzeback unique to the area—and make fishing all the better.

Dr. Shannon Brewer, an Associate Professor at Oklahoma State University, leads ongoing research into how the bass behaves through the year. Brewer and graduate student Andrew Miller monitor a strain of bronzebacks found only in the spring-fed streams in the Ozark highlands near where Oklahoma, Missouri and Arkansas converge. The fish is known as Neosho smallmouth bass—and it has an affinity for flowing water.

This habitat and behavior research on smallmouth bass that swim in Oklahoma’s Elk River and tributaries is paid for through the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration Program, collected through taxes paid by fishing tackle manufacturers on fishing gear, passed on to the angler. When an angler hears the ding of a cash register and coin drop in the till, they are paying for conservation. Brewer and Miller conduct the work expressly for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation (ODWC), which, in the end expects to use research findings to inform fishery management decisions.

How they get the work done is nearly as interesting as what they are learning. Brewer and Miller surgically implanted 100 Neosho smallmouth bass with radios, as early as 2015. The fish were caught by electrofishing, anesthetized, and the radios placed inside the body cavity and then stitched up. The bass were returned to the same streams in which they were caught after they recovered from surgery. A few radioed bass have been lost to otters and to anglers, but through the course of the study, at least 30 bass have remained tagged in each of three streams.

The radios emit a signal whereby the researchers relocated the fish many times, some for nearly three years before the batteries exhausted. In the warm months of March to October, the fish were relocated at least once weekly; in the colder months, only once per month. Though the research is still underway the professor and student have been able to gather a fair amount of information, revealing when and where these bass go through the year. Where the males take up housekeeping in the spring is of particular interest.

Brewer and Miller relocated the bass by walking streamside or kayaking, intent on hearing the distinct radio signals on a receiver they carried. Tracking through the winter months revealed very little movement, according to Brewer.

“Their favorite habitats in winter seemed to be deep pools,” said Brewer. “They would hold between rocks in slow water—and sometimes in quite shallow rocky areas—stationary. I’m an angler and naturally curious and snorkeled in January for a closer look. Smallmouth bass shoved themselves between rocks, in cavities, and in piles of woody debris – fish of all sizes. Some were wedged sideways in cavities, protected from swifter water. ”

As winter turned to spring, the two researchers found much variation among the many individual fish that carried radios. “Females were first to move,” said Brewer. “Come April, they were headed upstream to spawning sites. Some moved nearly five miles to find spawning habitat.”

Male smallmouth bass typically build nests over gravel in shallow water and court females to spawn. Males aggressively guard the nests during construction, through hatching and for a short spell as fry hover above the nest and the guarding male before disbursing to nursery habitat. The researchers noted that bass in their study seemed to concentrate in select areas which may speak to there being limited spawning habitat. As to what happened to the females, post-spawn, Brewer said they didn’t travel far, typically staying near the closest deep pools until around September when there seemed to be a downstream movement, particularly by the older and larger bass.

The three streams that harbored the radioed smallmouth bass all lead into Grand Lake O’ the Cherokees. Curiously, none of the bass to date have been located in the reservoir – they have all stayed in the streams. Moreover, the bass stayed in the streams in which they were tagged, save for one female that moved seasonally between to streams.

And that speaks to their uniqueness, says ODWC biologist, Kurt Kuklinski, who oversees the research for the agency. He works at the Fisheries Research Lab in Norman. “Neosho smallmouth bass are a stream fish,” says Kuklinski. “They have a liking for cool, spring-fed flowing waters. They’re native to the eastern third of Oklahoma—and their reliance on Ozark streams makes them different than lake-dwelling smallmouth bass.”

The preliminary results are surely fascinating, but Kuklinski says the full picture is not yet in view. The two researchers have more work to do and a great amount of data to analyze. As bass behavior and habitat selection in northeastern Oklahoma streams come into better focus, it should be good for fishery managers and for anglers, ultimately.

–Craig Springer, External Affairs, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service – Southwest Region