Sam Rayburn Lake Bass Study

Bass Fishing

sam rayburn bass study

Research by fisheries biologists on 180,000 acre Sam Rayburn Lake, Texas reveals that 41% of the bass are behind you and/or in places you never think to fish. After poring over this study, I can think of a lot of reservoir areas, I never fish. Revealed in this Sam Rayburn Lake Bass Study was a surprising annual mortality rate of 35% for adult bass. Most bass move less than 150 feet in a day. It is a home base they linger around. They usually make small movements to spawn and feed.

An equal amount of bass was caught from deep and shallow water. About half of the shallow bass moved deep at some time. One six-pound bass moved from the back of a creek five miles to the mouth. These were specific spots she moved back and forth to. Her selected area at the mouth of the bay was on a no-nothing shoreline with just slightly deeper water nearby.

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July through December this big female stayed at the mouth. In January she moved the five miles to the back. You might suspect it was to spawn but the weather was unusually cold.

In March, she moved back out and stayed a month. Come April, she moved all the way to the back. The researchers wonder if she spawned twice. Their studies reveal female bass do not always drop all their eggs at once or in the same nest.

Specific bass come back to specific areas time, and time again. If bass has everything they need, they will stay where they are released to the tune of 56%.of the time Some like specific docks and will seldom leave. Others stay in the backwater muck and vegetation until water temperatures reach the upper 80s.

The places most anglers are overlooking are featureless flats without a major piece of structure within 100 yards. Some 41% of bass in this study were found on these flats. Is fishing pressure pushing bass to these areas?

Anglers idle their outboards over areas looking for bass on their electronics. Maybe, this is a bad idea; 42% of the time when the boat passed over, the bass left the area. The deeper they were located the less likely they were to move. Still, the bass moved 25% of the time at 10 feet, and 20% of the time at 20 feet or deeper.

Interestingly, the presence of a lure seems to scare away some bass at the rate of 31% of the time. The targeted fish would leave after five casts with a Texas-rigged worm.

Why they moved was a mystery. Could it have been the electronics, the site of the boat, or the noise of the trolling motor? The gut feeling of the biologists was the presence of the lure is what made the fish leave.

I recall a study involving a nine-pound bass being observed by a scuba diver. When the big fish heard the noise of a trolling motor, she took off for deeper water. I try to keep my trolling motor on the slowest speed possible and run it constantly instead of intermittently.

The fish tested spent 78% of their time in deeper water. Even when you think the majority of bass will be near the bank spawning, only 43% actually are, according to these texas researchers.

Bass released after a tournament do not cross deep water. About 60% stay in the area for two months before dispersing. Most of the released bass, 84%, follow continuous shorelines. During the first 40 days, largemouth bass travel less than one mile. In three years-less than three miles.

Smallmouth bass disperse more quickly. Tracking them revealed 87% travel between two and 15 miles from the release site. After 20 days of being released, the majority of smallmouths traveled at least three miles and as much as eight miles.

It can take a bass 28 days to recover from being in the confinement of a livewell. If you are not in a tournament, release them immediately.

Looks like I have a lot of new water to try on some old familiar lakes.

About Ken McBroom 307 Articles
Ken McBroom is an accomplished outdoor writer and photographer. Growing up in Lynchburg Tennessee allowed him many opportunities afield as a boy and young man. Later in life, after Desert Storm, Ken’s wanderlust took him to Alaska to live and work and experience the last frontier. Married now with two beautiful children, Ken now calls Kentucky home where he continues to communicate our American outdoor traditions and the lifestyle it offers.

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