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Diversity | Print |  Email
Written by Jay Yelas   
Friday, 04 March 2011 16:54

America The Beautiful - nothing really compares. This great land of ours is blessed with a rich diversity of landscapes and climates. Those who are fortunate enough to travel across this country know what I am talking about. California, Louisiana, New York, and Minnesota, just to pick four, are about as different as different can be. They offer great contrasts both in landscape and climate. All four, however, also offer great bass fishing.

One thing that never ceases to amaze me in all my travels on the Bassmaster Tour is just how different this nation's bass fisheries are. It is unbelievable. At first, it was quite an adjustment for me. I grew up out West, learning to bass fish in California and Oregon. There is a substantial amount of bass fishery diversity just in those two states alone. Consider all the different types of water those two states offer: tidal rivers (Sacramento Delta and Columbia River); natural rivers (upper portions of Columbia River, Snake River), highland reservoirs (Shasta, Oroville, Casitas, Powell; lowland reservoirs (Fern Ridge in Oregon); and natural lakes (Clear Lake and Tenmile Lakes). That is a lot of different types of water.

It takes years just to learn the ropes in all the water out West. Every type of lake or river requires a different approach, different lures and techniques. One person could spend a lifetime just learning the water out West. Then move back East and you will find a whole new set of fisheries and water types that don't even exist in the West. How about the great, immense lowland reservoirs in Texas like Rayburn and Toledo Bend, and all their creek channels and deep hydrilla. Or what of Lake Erie or Lake Ontario or Lake St. Claire and their world class smallmouths. Have you visited the Tennessee River lakes like Guntersville, Wheeler, Pickwick, or Kentucky Lake? What is a guy to do on those big, flat bodies of water? These lakes have a unique variable of whether or not they offer current, depending on the power generation schedules.

For further diversity, check out the God-made wonder near Minneapolis sometime, Lake Minnetonka, for some great fishing in the cabbage grass in 18-feet of water. Then you might zip down to that little natural lake in Florida called Okeechobee, where you have to idle 1/2-mile offshore before you can find water deep enough to get up on plane. You must sample the Coosa Rivers' unique spotted bass in Alabama's Lakes Logan Martin, Neely Henry and Lay. You can flip a jig around shallow wood all summer and catch 3- and 4-pound spotted bass.

I have been to all these places numerous times in the last 12 years, and can say from experience that they all require totally different methods for catching bass. Each body of water has its own unique personality, which takes time to learn.

I thought I had seen it all a few years ago. After traveling the Bassmaster tour for nine years, I had been just about everywhere, thought I had seen everything there was to see. I had caught bass in just about every state in America except Alaska. Then B.A.S.S. scheduled a Top 150 tournament in New Orleans on the Mississippi River Delta.

Oh my! That was about all I could say when I first looked at a map of New Orleans. This waterway has over 3,000 man-made (dug for oil exploration) canals you can fish and they all look the same. You can run for 100 miles in one direction and never cross water that is over five feet deep! The bottom is so muddy that a small worm with a 1/4-ounce bullet weight will plunge a good six feet beneath the bottom and the fish can't locate it. The place has approximately 12 different species of aquatic vegetation. On any given day you will see over 100 alligators - many of them following about ten feet behind your boat as you fish down the bank. Sounds like a well-fabricated tale, doesn't it? Well it's not, that place is a swamp of unheralded proportions.

Compare that to your typical Western fishery, say Lake Mead. There is no comparison. They are as different as night and day. But both places have good largemouth bass fishing. Pretty amazing fish we chase, isn't it? Their adaptability never ceases to amaze me.

Mead is a pretty simple lake. Find some cover or baitfish and you'll find bass. In New Orleans there is cover and baitfish everywhere. So that system for finding fish doesn't work in a swamp. In Mead, 15 feet is shallow water and a good depth to fish. In New Orleans there never has been, nor will there ever be, a bass caught in 15-feet of water. An experienced bass angler can look at a good topographical map of Mead and select locations where bass will be. The opposite is true of New Orleans. A topographical map is totally useless for locating bass. At Mead, pattern fishing is a very viable game plan. There is little pattern fishing to speak of in New Orleans. There are virtually no similarities between these two bodies of water.

Therein lies the greatest challenge to touring pros, or anyone who wants to catch bass from coast to coast. Our national fisheries are as diverse as our national landscapes and climates. So the learning never stops and the challenges never end. What a great sport!


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