Blog by: Lloyd Tackitt , Texas 11/12/2014
Lake ecology and weather provide some predictable fishing patterns. Lakes stratify, temperature-wise, during late spring and summer up to early fall. The top of the lake becomes quite a bit warmer than the bottom of the lake, and this causes a thermocline to appear between the two "layers" of water. In effect one lake becomes almost like two lakes.
That bottom water will lose oxygen underneath the thermocline and fish will tend to stay at or above the thermocline if for no other reason than they can't breathe. As fall comes on and the top layer begins to cool it will eventually reach a point of equilibrium, temperature-wise, with the lower layer and the thermocline disappears. Get enough wind moving the surface and the top and bottom will intermix, bringing oxygen back down to the depths again. This action can sometimes cause a lake to "turn over" and as the oxygen depleted lower water mixes with the top you'll smell it, much like the smell of rotten eggs. It eventually goes away.
Now that we are entering the cold winter days with those blue northers blowing down we'll start to see the thermocline disappear and the top to bottom temperatures coming in to closer range with each other. And this is when the fish will tend to leave the shallows and move towards the depths. Not only will these fish be harder to find, unless you have electronics, but they'll also be moving slower and feeding less.
We are entering the winter doldrums of fishing. Fish can be caught, will be caught, but to catch them the tactics must change to winter tactics. These tactics can be over-simplified and summarized as "fish deep, fish small lures, and fish slow."
Use your electronics to look for humps, old houses, or other fish attracting structure. Drop spoons, jigs, worms, directly on top of the fish and jig them up and down slowly. Vary the height of each jig up/down and the speed to find what's working that day, and vary the lure as well. It'll take some experimenting to find the motion/lure/depth/structure, but once you find it you're gold for that day.
Next day could be totally different though.
Attila64, TX 11/15/2014 6:14:02 AM
Enjoyed the explanation on the turn over process. Up north the lakes did not seem to turn over like they do down here. I believe it has multiple factors that I never thought about until now. Depth, water coming from snow melt. Some of the reservoirs had a bit of stain usually from run off but were less stained than local lakes. I also wonder if this was one of the reasons they had less fish in them from lack of turn over not stirring the nutrients.
woollybugger, WY 12/15/2014 9:46:34 PM
Years ago, I took a color meter with me ice fishing. It was marketed in the 60's as a way to know what color bass could see best under different light and turbity. But in reality, it was really a light meter that you could lower to about 25 feet.
My experiment was to find the phytoplankton layer that changes with the water temperature but also available light. As a source of food for forage fish, knowledge of this depth, is where the big trout roam.
I also found I could see the same layer by turning up the sensitivity on my humingbird. Further, you could see small schools of baitfish. Now this zone is not always preserved when the ice forms and the snow covers the ice. But if you can locate it, you're in for some fun.