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Schools Of/For Thought

Posted: September 3rd, 2014 by Bill Dance

“Schooling fish.”

In the fishing world you will hear a lot about finding and catching fish that are present in one locale in big numbers. Being gregarious…staging in number is a common characteristic of many species of fish. And certainly, some of it is Nature simply taking care of its own…safety in numbers.

Schooling also makes it easier for fish to find food…a group of fish looking for food is obviously going to have better luck than just one. A school can also work together to make a larger meal more manageable. It also can assist in reproduction in some species…bringing the sexes together, while schooling also makes traveling distances easier for some species, allowing a sort of drafting (migratory birds travel in groups for the same reason).

Of all the species of fish, a greater number school when they are younger than they do at a more mature age. And, certainly, there are species that school throughout their lifetime.

When you think about it the trait to be found in schools is a very good thing for anglers. If you catch one fish, what do you want to do next? Why, catch another one, of course!

Bass school 80 percent of the time. Therefore one fishing theory is that it is far better to search for schools of fish than to try and pick up one here and one there. And in Saltwater, I’ve seen schools of Redfish that have covered several acres!

Of course, that is personal preference, however. You can always catch a single fish in a good spot, but run into a school, and the action will certainly pick up.

Bass are not the loners many people believe. They school three-quarters of the year or better.

The exception is of course during spring when they filter into the shallows to dig nests and spawn. This is when bass shun their neighbors. Remember, though, that not all bass spawn at the same time and all do not spawn when the water temperature is best. Knowing this works two ways. It tells you there still might be schools of bass about in the springtime and it says the spawn can last for several weeks instead of being limited to a short period of time.

As soon as female bass spawn, they go right back into deep water, leaving the males to guard the nests and young. When the fry swim up for the second time and scatter, the males also move back to deeper water. And for a period of time you can’t seem to find the larger fish (postspawn)…probably in deeper water.

By summer, however, the schools are again found and the bigger fish can be found/caught more easily. You might find such schools over structure feeding on bait. The important thing is that the fish have schooled again and will remain so now through fall and winter.

Again, remember all fish are not doing the same thing at the same time. However, also remember, once you find fish, don’t leave them to find more. You have found a school, so stick with it.

Until next time, catch one for me!

Bill Dance

Tennessee

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