Bass don’t move to deep offshore structure in summer because the shallows get too hot. Nor do they want to escape from whining jet skis or splashing kids. Bass abandon the bank because they find the best feeding opportunities on deep offshore structure.
Opportunistic largemouths occupy different habitats within a particular body of water — some range around docks and marinas to pick off unwary panfish or lurk in thick woody snags or in matted vegetation; others patrol weedflats for preyfish and crawdads; pods of bass use the mouths of feeder creeks as ambush zones; and they forage on the vast schools of shad that waft through the open areas of impoundments from May through September.
In most impoundments, from Ohio to Alabama and Texas, gizzard and threadfin shad offer such a plentiful food resource that most of the adult bass population rely on them. And the fish that do intercept shad on offshore structure tend to acquire that football-like stature that indicates good living, and always helps out at weigh-in time. Most of a lake’s lunker bass also follow this program, bulking up for the next spring’s spawn.
During summer, shad wander offshore, seeking dense blooms of plankton, often with little regard for structure. You may watch a horde of shad dimpling the surface while the graph reveals other clusters in the 20-foot range. And at times, groups of bass hound these nomadic baitfish, surfacing in a feeding frenzy at unpredictable times and places.
But it’s not in the nature of a black bass to feed this way. That’s the specialized technique of the true basses, the Morone clan — stripers, white bass, and hybrids (wipers). They instinctively herd shad toward the surface, then slash through the school. When bigmouths, spots, and even smallmouths sometimes join the feast, a mixture of species can be caught. At times, too, schools of largemouths corner shad away from structure. But black bass play second fiddle to the other crew, in terms of efficient feeding in open water. As a result, largemouth schools generally include younger, friskier bass.
Black bass are by nature more structure and cover oriented, so those that inhabit offshore spots select structure adjacent to the open reservoir basin. They hold off structural elements or in cover on the structure, waiting for shad schools to pass within striking distance. Then they immediately move into feeding position.
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