Narration by FLW Tour Pro Carl Jocumsen
A “deeper” look into the biology and ecosystems underwater across North America, focusing on the basic habits, tendencies and behaviors that give us better insight into the worlds by which we are all so fascinated by. Big Bass Dreams takes you through an underwater realm seldom explored and documented, the one in our very backyards. Learn about the basics about important prey species, the target sport fish species themselves, and the different environmental conditions in which we must decipher as we continue “Piecing the Puzzle” on each and every outing.
Threadfin shad are found throughout North America and are tolerant of a wide range of environmental conditions, making them a common and often important part of the ecosystem in black bass fisheries. The biggest limitation to their range is cold water that dips below 42 degrees Fahrenheit, a threshold where massive die offs can occur.
Normally solitary ambush predators, 3 black bass species – Largemouth, Smallmouth and Spotted Bass seen here will move off the bank and begin to exhibit pelagic behavior with the arrival of schools of thread fin shad. Behavior normally seen with offshore saltwater species like tuna, dorado and sailfish.
Inquisitive by nature, these highly tuned predators are drawn to the sights, sounds and vibrations given off by schools of thread fin shad as they move up from deep water haunts where they spend the majority of the colder winter months. Once water temperatures climb into the 60’s, these predominantly filter feeding baitfish move up high in the water column where light penetration favors the growth of both zoo and phytoplankton on which they heavily feed upon through filtration. They can also be observed feeding on small crustaceans, copepods, and insects at or near the water’s surface where they hunt down each individual prey item.
All this however puts them in direct striking range of many of the upper level predators including birds and many predatory fish species including black bass. The shad utilize a simple strategy that many prey animals across the animal kingdom take to, safety in numbers. The odds of being attacked in a large group are diminished, being singled out from the school means certain death. The ball of bait shifts in an attempt to evade the predators in every direction, however the school of bass has enough numbers to cut off escape from all angles pinning the bait ball to the surface. They utilize the surface as a barrier to pin the bait ball, therefore making escape virtually impossible.
Bass take turns blasting through the ball of bait, looking for individuals that exhibit some type of weakness. With surprising speed, agility and coordination they strike their prey, often in sequence taking advantage of the confusion and chaos of feeding fish. #BigBassDreams