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Giving Fish too much Credit
By Colin Crawford

A fish has two major things in its environment, the water it lives in  and the weather that is changing, not only seasonally but day-by day,  hour-by -hour and minute-by-minute. These two things alone control fish  activity. The most unstable either the weather or water becomes, the  more rapid these two factors change, and you'll see an effect on  fishing. A fish cannot stand a fast change.
A lot of people don't realize that fish move on a seasonal and daily 
basis, and when they move they use underwater structure, essentially the 
bottom of the lake that is just a little different. Things like bars,  underwater humps and manmade structure like submerged roadbeds, levees  or riprap along dams or causeways.
When a fish leaves its sanctuary, to eat or search for food, it has to  have something visually to follow. A fish is a stupid creature. It  cannot rationalize like a human being, and when it moves about it must  have something it can follow. Fish don't swim about a lake haphazardly.  Not only can they see structure but, we can also locate that same  structure with our observations of land, depthfinders and the feel of  the lures on the bottom.
Largemouth bass will be in 30 to 35 feet of water the bulk of the  season, and in winter they will be a little bit deeper if that depth is  available.
The most important thing to remember is that the larger a fish becomes  the tighter it schools and the more time it spends in deep water. A fish  lives there because it is forced there by environment over a period of  time. When a fish becomes an adult, its body takes longer to make  adjustments to the changing conditions of the water and weather. It's  easier for it to make these adjustments in deep water. The deeper you  go, the more stable conditions will become. A fish can stay there for  weeks. It doesn't have to move into the shallows all summer.
Is there enough food and oxygen down deep to support fish populations? 
Absolutely there's food. There are shad, baitfish, and bluegills at 35,  45 feet. A fish's menu may change and it may be less selective, but it  doesn't have to move shallow to feed. But you have to keep this in mind:  When a fish is down deep it's probably dormant and its body requires  very little food. It is just sitting there and not expending much  energy, so it really doesn't need any food. This also makes for  difficult fishing, and you have to get your lures closer to them. A  strike zone is very small in deep water, because of visibility and the 
lethargic nature of the fish. We all know that a fish requires certain amounts of oxygen to survive.  You must remember that a fish is a very adjustable creature, and when  there is a very small amount of oxygen in an area it will adjust, unless  the situation gets to a point where there is just not enough to survive. 
But no one has proven that a fish has a preferred oxygen zone. Structure  in relation to deep water is our guide to finding fish. We've heard hundreds of times that "you can't catch fish in this lake  because of the thermocline and there's not enough oxygen down there,"  and invariably we go find a deep hump and bang there is the walleye or  smallmouth.
When big, adult fish do move out of this deep water they leave as a 
school. Even muskie school, contrary to some things you may have read. 
The reason most people don't realize this is because they are not  fishing the depths correctly.
A good level wind reel is essential and a good graphite rod that has the  potential for a long sweep of the rod tip so that when those "eyes" hit,  it has some give. I prefer to use the downrigger variety of rods. They  have the sensitivity and the backbone that I need for this type of system. You should start with a level wind reel spooled with 500 feet of 8 pound  test line, tie in a segment of one, two or three colors of 18 pound  leadcore, and finish with another 50 feet 8 pound test, as a leader to  the bait.
The length of the leadcore segment varies by the type of crankbait 
you'll be using and the depth you need to achieve. For example, in the  late fall's chilly water, 

Reef Runners Ripstick
Reef Runners Rip Stick
I've found walleyes to prefer subtle action 
lures like a Reef Runners Rip Stick. To get this shallow-diving bait down  30 to 40 feet you need three segments of leadcore. 
If we're using a  deeper diving lure like a Reef Runner Deep Diver you can achieve the  same depths with just two segments of leadcore. The general rule is high  action crankbaits for warm water, subtle action for cool water. When you find a concentration of fish in over 40 feet of water and they  are suspended at 30 feet, start from the bottom and work your bait up to  the strike zone. Most anglers would try to determine how much line to  let out until they were in 30 feet of water. The easiest method is to  let out line until you are on bottom and then crank in line until you  have a strike.
A fish basically is a fish, and it reacts to the environment  accordingly. If you keep the basics in mind you will catch the species  that you are after. If you are interested in reading more about this technique or other  techniques you can find me on the web at www.northwoodsfishing.net. If  you are interested in a guided trip, a personal media interview, or  photo shoot, please call 715-545-8347. I am located in the Phelps, Wisconsin area.

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