Map Reading, Understanding Seasonal Patterns, and
weather changes.

Let me start by saying how much fun this was. I don't know if I ever had so much fun writing an
article. However, I also think this may be the hardest article that I ever wrote. I don't know how
long it is going to end up, but I hope that it will be a worthwhile read. So, grab a snack and see if
you can pick some useful information up from the article... 

I chose the lake and conditions for a variety of reasons. This lake is about thirty miles northeast of
Minneapolis, Minnesota. About five years ago the Minnesota DNR (Department of Natural
Resources) made this lake into a "Trophy Bass Lake". This means that there is catch and release on
all bass over 12" in length. I fish this lake more than any other lake (probably 30+ times a year)
because it is so close to my house and the bass are larger on average than those of the surrounding
lakes. I wanted to pick a lake that I knew well, and this one fit the bill. I also wanted to pick a lake
that might fool some of the best map readers which I think I accomplished to some extent also. The
lake stays fairly clear and weedy through most of the spring season and then gets a pretty strong
algae bloom in late July and some of the weeds die back. It clears again in the fall. Other fish
species that reside in the lake are Sunfish (small size but good population), Crappie (medium size),
Northern Pike (I have seen fish in the 12-15 lb class in the lake, but most are in the 4 lb range), and
Walleye. The MAX depth in the lake is 27 feet, soil type around the lake is wet, and the
bottom make-up is sand and rock through most of the lake and muck in some various parts. 

O.K. let's assume this: When you wake up this morning,
the air temp is 70 degrees, the water surface temp is 65
degrees. It's overcast and the wind is from the east at 10
mph. The forecast for the day calls for the clouds to lift
around 2- o'clock, and the wind to switch to coming out of
the west at 5 mph. The high temp for the day is supposed
to reach 80 degrees. I have scanned a lake from a map
book for your reference. 

The above came directly from the question page. I chose the conditions and weather change off the
top of my head, but for a reason: I wanted to test even the best of anglers. With a water temp of 65
degrees, we can almost assume that the bass will be finishing up the spawn. A few fish will still be
on beds, so people could have chosen to fish post spawn fish (which some did) as well as fish
shallow on the beds (which most did.) The air temp and wind direction for the Midwest would
suggest that we are sitting in a stable low pressure zone. There may be a light rain with these
conditions, however, it's possible to have these conditions without the rain so I left that out. The
weather change at 2- o'clock would suggest that the pressure is rising pushing the clouds away
hence making fishing a little more difficult. Now if you read my article, "My theory on Bass and I
am sticking to it", you may think of me as a hypocrite for getting so technical on this article. I still
think that keeping it simple is important, but the mind is a terrible thing to waste. Understanding
seasonal patterns and weather changes can help you boat a lot more fish, and hopefully after you
are finished reading this article you will have a better understanding of both. 

Alright, on to the questions and answers and a lot of my opinion. Please remember that there are no
wrong answers, and I am just stating my opinion based on what I have experienced on this lake. 

Question #1 Where would you start and what lure or lures would you start with,
and why did you choose these baits and location? 

Most people chose the far north side of the lake in the little bay with the 25 foot hole. From reading
and experience, people know that the Northwest side of a lake warms the quickest and in would
mostly likely have the most active fish in the spring of the year. Most had started with a topwater
bait (buzzbaits, and pop-r's, and prop baits), or spinnerbaits, if they were fishing the shallow fish
while others opted to start with the post spawn fish and hit them with a Carolina rigged lizard. 

Steve Persinger of Florida stated that he would start on the point between the 25' cove and the
shallow cove because it would most likely be a migration route for spawning fish. He chose a
buzzbait to start with and then changed to a floating worm or sluggo type bait as the morning

Ron from Ohio and Dave from Florida also chose the same area and elected to start with
spinnerbaits because they are easy baits to fish in the wind and cover water quickly in hopes of
picking up a few early fish. 

People with answers like Steve, Ron and Dave picked up on the fact that the wind was blowing
towards the point further west of the entrance to this small bay, thus stacking bait fish and hopefully
picking up some active fish. With the barometer being low, fish should have been active and
feeding. It was a smart choice to work baits fast first and then slow down with plastics only if

Pat Weis took a different approach that I thought was very interesting. He decided to attack the
post spawn fish. He elected to start on the 17' hump on the northeast side of the lake. He started
with a Carolina rig with a small 4" lizard. If the fish were not here, due to the wind he would hit the
northwest point of the cove using a Carolina rigged lizard opting again for the post spawn fish. 

These were very good answers from people that looked at a map for the first time, and all these
people probably got fish. But remember, I wanted to make this a challenge. After fishing the lake
many times, I probably would not have started there. If you look at the map a bit closer you will
notice that this lake is shallower in the lower half of the lake. If you look really closely, you will see
that there are two small creeks that enter the far southeast side of the lake. This lake is different
from most lakes in that as long as there has not been a number of days with a cold north wind the
lower section (especially around the creek inlets) warms the fastest, along with the very protected
12'deep bay just to the north of here. I probably would have checked the two points out from the
far east creek inlet with a hard plastic jerkbait as long as the weeds were not to high. In the case
that they were, I would switch to a floating worm or R.T. Slug. 

Richard (Pardner) Ziert of California also took his map reading skills to a new level and chose this
area also. I didn't expect anyone to key in on this area, yet he did. He opted to start with a split
shot rig with a craw imitation. If that didn't work, he made the change to the windblown shoreline
up the lake a bit behind the islands. He switched to a spinnerbait looking for active fish, however,
on the way there he said that he would stop in the narrow area where the lake thins out. He chose
to fish this area with suspending plugs with tight wiggles but made sure to keep the baits small and
darkened the color of the lure the deeper he was targeting. I have caught a few of my largest fish off
the location that Richard describes here, but slightly later in the year--probably a good place to
check anyway though. 

Question #2 Assume you're not catching fish, what things would you change
first, your location or your presentation? Why? 

More than likely with the weather pattern present, everybody was getting fish. However, I wanted
to see what changes people would have made in the chance that they weren't. Heather Hauser and
hubby would have switched from spinnerbaits and traps to plastics. She stated that she would key
in on shoreline cover like stumps and docks. She added that in unfamiliar lakes it's a good idea to
stay in less than 12 feet of water--it eliminates much of the lake, and you will find active feeding fish
(good tip). She added that while fishing docks always throw at minnow buckets. "You can bet that
a bass is lurking around looking for escapees," Heather says. 

The boys in the north part of the lake opted to move their separate ways all choosing a separate
plan 'B'. Steve Persinger figured the fish should still be there but just maybe not as shallow as he
thought. He chose to back off the point that he was fishing and work the deeper section of the point
with a jigging spoon or Carolina rig. Ron decided to stay in the same area and changed his
technique. He says he would change the speed of his retrieve with his spinnerbait first rather than
changing lures all together. If that did not work, he would then change lures. He has found that
"bass don't move great distances, they just change habits or habitat." Keep that in mind, great
advice Ron. 

Pat decided to change location, he was confident that if the deep fish were there, they should have
bit because of the weather. So, he was going to move to shallow water. He moved his boat to the
Southeast corner of the northern lake and worked it with a jerkbait. He said he would start at the
shoreline and work out till he found a good weed line and work the "mini-points." 

Rick Taffe had started the day in the channel working a spinnerbait. If that hadn't worked, he would
move to deeper water in the channel and work it with a Texas rigged soft plastic. 

Now, as I stated earlier I have a pretty strong feeling that fish should have been on the bite early in
the day. If I wasn't getting bites, I would change locations. My hunch is that if they were not in the
far southern area of the lake they should be on the large flat on the Northwest corner of Chicago
Lake. I would work all areas with fast moving search baits first such as jerkbaits or
spinnerbaits (because of the weather), then comb the area with slower baits like a jig and craw or
Texas rigged plastic. Other areas I would have tried would be the Eagles Nest point (bottle neck on
the far south end of the lake on the east side), the secluded bay, and the flat that runs across the
lake just north of the secluded bay (hot spot later in year). 

Question #3 Assume this time that you are getting fish but they tend to be small,
what do you do? 

If this is the case, I would guess that most are catching small males. Many people had similar
answers for this. Up size your bait and maybe move a little deeper, occasionally up sizing your bait
will keep the smaller fish off, but that only helps sometimes. 

Heather states that she would switch to a Carolina rigged lizard and fish the points adjacent to the
spawning flats. 

Pat brought up a very good point in his answer to this question. "I wouldn't speed my baits up
because smaller fish (particularly males) are more aggressive in the post-spawn." He chose to switch
to a jig-n-pig or large 1 oz spinnerbait in lieu of the 4" lizard and jerkbait. He said he would even
think of throwing a Zara Spook, if there were enough weeds present. 

I think in this case, I would have to agree with most everyone else, increase the size of your bait
and pull off to slightly deeper water. I would probably go with Pat and use the Jig-N-Pig knowing
that the jig bite usually gives up larger fish. However, if I was out for fun and getting a bunch of fish
it would be hard for me to leave them to look for larger ones. 

Question #4 Turn the clock to around 1:30 or 2:00 in the afternoon, you notice
that the clouds are lifting and the wind has shifted a full 180 degrees on you,
what changes do you think you need to make, and why? 

As stated earlier in the article, this weather change would suggest that a high pressure shift had
occurred. Many would have noticed that the bites had slowed starting at 12:00 or so and may have
attributed it to being the time of day. This assumption could have some merit, however, the weather
change probably had more to do with it. In my opinion, with high pressure moving in, the fish would
pull tighter to cover and it will take a little more coaxing to get the fish to bite. Like what Ron stated
earlier: "I don't think bass move far, but just change their habits." I think if I was put in this situation,
I would go to one of my starting spots (the points exiting the small shallow bay in the south/east part
of the lake). This area may be even better now because of the wind shift. However, I would fish in
the weeds with a jig, and probably downsize to 1/4 so that I could work it slower. I would work
any pockets that I could find that looked like they had even slightly deeper water hoping to find fish
sitting tight. If that didn't work, I would try to hold tight to the weed edge and work a wacky rigged
4" worm on an undershot rig with probably only a 6-12 inch leader. I can work this rig very slowly,
and keep it in the strike zone for long periods of time upping my chances to get a fish. Also, with
the wind change came a light change. This would make me change the color of my lures as well. I
would lighten them up a bit to compliment the added sunlight. Any fish at this time would be a
welcome fish. I think that with the wind and weather change, fishing would have gotten very tough. I
think Heather was thinking the same thing. Her answer was, "Time for a lunch and a potty break.
Go back out later!" 

Some thought that the clearing sky was more important than the wind change, while others thought
the opposite. Most made color changes, while others made location changes to adapt for the wind.
Dave stated he would change color first adding blue to tails to dark worms or fishing lighter colored
baits than what he was first using. 

Ron said he would move to the southeast side of Lindstrom Lake, using the light wind to his
advantage. "With the water being fairly clear," he stated, "wind could play a major factor in the fish
activity, especially if they are shallow." 

Steve, who had moved deeper, said he would move back shallower with the weather change. He
would move to the northeast point of the 25' deep cove and the far northern part of the lake to use
the wind again to his advantage. He would work deep to shallow with Texas rigged lizards, tubes,
and soft plastic jerkbaits. 

Richard (Pardner) Ziert said that he would go to areas where he had caught fish earlier, but switch
to the wind blown side. "You need to follow the shift to the side of the structure. These changes you
should make are not necessarily long traveled distances...they cam be merely a matter of a few
yards at times. The time to make big changes is when the bite stops. Then you go over to the other
side of the water." 

Pat, on the other hand, did something totally different. He would fish the areas protected by the
wind because he thinks that the bait fish could have moved up on the shore with the morning east
wind, and now that they are protected they have no reason to leave. He made the change to lighten
up his baits to a floating worm or pearl fluke, and really work them slow. Pat also said that he
would return to his starting point on the 17' hump on the north/east side of the lake. Fishing it with a
Carolina rig and slow rolling spinnerbait approach. It is known that the deeper a fish is, the less
weather changes seem to affect them. 

In conclusion, I learned a lot from writing the article and plan on hitting some of the areas you came
up with. On the questions page, I also asked for your fishing strengths and many fished towards
their strengths. Ron left me a P.S. at the bottom of his e-mail that I thought was so fitting that I will
end the article with those thoughts: "A major reason for me to fish shallow is that that is what I do
best. Confidence is more than just thinking that you can catch them, it is knowing what you do best
in certain situations."

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