for the chill

IT’S COLD for us and the bass’ environment….

Recently, angler Gary Watts up in Amador County was giving me the needle on Facebook about SoCal tolerances for “cold weather.”

I chuckled, but it got me to thinking. Outside of any genetic issues regarding Florida strain bass tolerances, why are those guys out and catching up North and we are having a tougher time of it during this latest cold spell?

But then it struck me. They’re also hooking bass in water down in the 30’s, under the ice in Minnesota and lots of other cold climes. Why are our 50-something degree bass not responding like those 30- and 40-degree something fish?

The answer, I’d guess, is while bass behavior is most strongly dictated by instinctive and physiological issues, it can be modified by environmental factors. They need to feed and they need to reproduce and they have bodily tolerances for hot/cold, oxygen content or pH.

But they are also conditioned by what’s “normal”  for water conditions and what’s available as forage in the water column. In some of these instances, Nature grades on a curve. You just can’t say bass prefer 75 degree water if it barely gets to 75 degrees at a certain latitude or elevation. You can’t say they feed predominately on something, say threadfin shad, if that something doesn’t exist in sufficient quantities.

The current cold water conditions in the Southland may not bottom out like they do up North. But for what they are conditioned to expect (even though they have the capacity to endure the drops) experience tells us that bass down here are not as active following a series of 25-degree nights compared to 40-degree nights.

I think it makes sense.

Southlanders, consider your own experiences over the years.  When the water is 52-55 degrees in February, we see things as starting to get interesting. But in November, when we encounter water temps dropping to the low 50’s, we know the easy fishing is done for the year.

That’s where instinctive behavior seems to trump the environment. On the one hand, the fish instinctively recognize it’s time to begin their shoreward, spawning movement. In late November/early December, they’re “calling off the jam.”

So yeah, Gary. It’s cold now for us. And for our fish, too.


2 Responses to “How cold is it? Enough to matter to us…”

It was cold, cold, cold, at Piru yesterday. Fishing was tough too! I had ice on my rod guides and a few guys had their lines, and reels frozen. My hands were freezing even with the gloves on. I hooked a fish on a spoon. I thought I had hooked a branch at first because it was dead weight. Got it half way up then it started pulling back! Nice 3.37# fish. It was big enough to win the big fish pot! Someone else got a 3#. It was a good way to start the club season!

by George Kramer

Way to go. 🙂 Not like the fishing we had in June, though…