Find the Birds Find the Bass
There are many subtle clues on the water that can help you locate fish when bass fishing and birds can be the simplest clue of all. Birds can help you find the baitfish but they can also pinpoint submerged grass where bass love to hide to ambush bait fish that are there for the security and nutrients the grass offers. Listed below are a couple of the most common types of birds found on most bass lakes across America. The old saying goes “Find the Birds Find the Bass”.
Shallow Water Stalkers
Herons and cranes wade shallow water stalking shad and other bait fish trying to get a meal. When you see these birds along the shoreline, you can bet there are bait fish in the area. This also means that the bait fish are up shallow which will bring bass up to eat them. When cranes and herons in the shallows, fish shallow techniques to catch the bass lurking below.
You can determine the mood of the bait fish by watching the mood of the birds. When birds are perched above the water, they’re waiting for the baitfish to move to them. This usually happens along a creek channel. Birds will wait for the migration out of the back of the cove by morning and back into the cove by evening.
When you see this the bass may not be actively feeding in the shallows but it tells you that there are bait fish around and to search for them with your electronics. They will probably be suspended in open water and the bass will be with them. When you see those birds start to stalk and feed you know the shad are moving along the shoreline. A great time to get in there with a spinnerbait or flipping rod and take advantage of the situation.
Seagulls are the most notorious divers and are the easiest to see as they soar around pin-pointing baitfish for anglers as they dive bomb the surface for a meal. When you locate the seagulls diving it means that the baitfish are close to the surface and oftentimes fish are pushing them up to it. There are many fish species that do this so you have to check it out to see if bass are feeding with the seagulls. If the bass aren’t feeding at that time they could be later, so keep this area in mind.
There are also deep divers such as loons and cormorants. These voracious feeders consume their weight in fish every day. This means that where you see these birds there is sure to be baitfish nearby. The baitfish suspends below the birds. You can get an idea of how deep they are by how long the divers are underwater. These birds are my big fish locators because usually they are diving on some big shad and the bigger bass usually follow the bigger shad.
There is one more diver worth mentioning and that is the American Coot. While the Coot will eat fish, it primarily forages for aquatic vegetation. If you’re a bass angler you know that bass love aquatic vegetation. Always be on the lookout for Coots, they might just show you a patch of grass nobody else knows about.
Loons have stouter necks and relatively smaller beaks; however, they’ll also point you to baitfish. The thing about loons is that they prefer larger fish to eat. This can be important when you are looking for big bait that attract bigger predators or bass in this case. The bites will probably be few and far between but usually those bites are from big bass. Fishing around the loons can be great when you have a limit in the box and need one big kicker to move up the board.
Birds and Bass
I have used birds to find fish from Florida to Alaska. In Alaska the ospreys told us where the bluegills were and in Alaska the sea gulls always pinpointed a great starting spot for catching salmon when trolling or fishing from shore in estuaries. This all taught me to focus on birds and bass when I started fishing bass tournaments. The funny thing is it took me a little while, like everything else, to catch on to something I already knew. The knowledge gained in Florida as a kid and the knowledge gained as a young man living on a boat in Alaska probably helped me realize that birds and bass were connected.
During my days fishing bass tournaments I spent many days practicing. I started to note that when I found a few bass oftentimes there were birds present. After the first couple years fishing bass tournaments I started to use the birds to find the bass. Of course using birds to find bass is most effective when the baitfish are shallow. However, there are times when birds can help you with your fishing all year long. One thing I learned throughout the years is that if there is no bait around there ain’t no fish. At least in any great number. Work on including birds and bass to your arsenal and you will catch more bass.