“Falling and Rising Water Levels” Currently we as South African anglers are going through a very difficult phase of bass fishing and to be successful we need to know how to break down and handle different water levels. We need to understand what will happen when water suddenly rises or drops. The anglers that can adapt quickly will be the most successful – Robbie Olivier
Currently we as South African anglers are going through a very difficult phase of bass fishing and to be successful we need to know how to break down and handle different water levels. We need to understand what will happen when water suddenly rises or drops. The anglers that can adapt quickly will be the most successful.
You might have caught them in two feet of water the weekend before the comp but a sudden drop will most likely make those fish pull deeper.
There are three phases I like to label water levels in:
1. Falling water level - Pros: Groups fish together; Cons: Generally slows down the bite
2. Rising water level - Pros: Fish become more active and aggressive; Cons: Fish are scattered out
3. Stable water level - When the water settles and stays stable for a while it is by far the best time to catch them.
There is no exact formula to predict exactly what to do in ether scenario because there are many variables at play, but the ones that are the most important to me in making a calculated discussion on the day are:
1. Current Season I am in - Where are the fish and what are they looking to do next? Be prepared for their next move. 2. What structure are they relating to? - Identify all the areas that have the structure you looking for beforehand. 3. What forage are they feeding on? - Understanding the forage the bass are currently feeding on and how they react to the levels can help predict there next move and narrow down where to find them because the bass will essentially follow the forage.
For example: If I am in fall and I’m catching good shallow fish I know the fish are just waiting for a reason to start migrating deep and a big sudden temperature drop can spark them to move. So I must prepare myself:
Plan A - Go to the back of the pocket where I’ve been catching my fish. If they are not there I will move to Plan B - I am assuming the fish are moving out or have pulled back so I will have marked or checked secondary points in the bay where I think the fish will stop or hold.
Plan C - Main point of the bay. A good tip here is that the fish don’t necessarily swim along the bank when the water
is falling and the fish move out. Especially in a shallower bays they are more likely to pull back and use the channel within that bay too navigate their way to the mouth, So little depressions, leaks and other structure either in, or right next the channel can be hot spots.
So the best thing is have an open mind. Do not become stuck on one pattern. The fish don’t just swim to the other side of the dam. They simply react to the conditions and move accordingly. Either shallower, or deeper - further back in the bay, or further out in the bay.
So let us put it all together. After your first day or two of practice you should have a good indication of what’s happening. 1. Establish whether the water level is rising or falling. Check the weather and find out if they are releasing water from the dam, or if the dam is receiving water from up stream. 2. Establish the current season the fish are in and what they are going to do next. This will make it easier to predict their movements. Are they planning to go deep, or shallow, or are they shallow (or deep)? Transitioning fish can be very difficult to catch, but if you know where they are going you can catch them as they starting to move out. You can still catch the stragglers leaving from where they came from. 3. Establish what they are feeding on and where the largest amount of forage will be according to the season you are in. Bass follow their food and wherever the most forage is the largest population of fish will be. Understand the forage; if it is sun fish - they like to be in shallow vegetation, if it is crustaceans - they like to be in rocks and trees. I hope this can help you become a better angler. Benjamin Franklin once said, “If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail.”
A 9.6kg bag we caught for the win at the Castfor-Cash tournament at Albert Falls. A sudden water rise brought these fish in from the main lake points to the flooded vegetation in the back of bays. We had to adapt our plan on the day
A 9.53kg bag caught for the Cast-for-Cash win at Inanda Dam - These fish were in the shallow grass during practice but falling water moved them to shallow drops and depressions nearby. We predicted the fish would do this and prepared accordingly.