34 UNIVER­SITY

SA Bass - - Contents - Rob­bie Olivier* *Rob­bie Olivier has qual­i­fied four years in a row for na­tion­als and has Protea and Pres­i­dent Colours.

“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.

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