Find their food, find the fish

By Don Ingram
   As temperatures at night drop into the 60’s, shad start migrating to the back of the creeks and shallow flats. The cooler surface temperatures scatter fish to the flats and back of creeks in search of food.
   The old adage “find the food source and you find the fish” is as true in fall as any other time of the year.
   Whether you are fishing a lake or river and stream, bass, crappie, catfish, and bluegill will be wherever there is an abundance of food. Once you identify the primary source of food for that species of fish, start using or mimicking the food source.
   For example, I was competing in a two-day tournament on Kerr Reservoir in North Carolina. I struggled the first day to catch a limit of fish.
   I was flipping and pitching main lake trees in 3-6 feet of water with a 7’6 Shimano rod and reel rigged with 25 lb. CXX P-Line. The best bait to flip was a Prowler green pumpkin brushdog rigged on a Mustad 5/0 soft plastic hook.
   At the weigh-in, my partner noticed a large bluegill left in the livewell by one of the fish we had taken to the scales.
   At that time, I didn’t think much about the incident until I was eating dinner with another friend who was competing in the same tournament. In a casual conversation, he also mentioned he had found a large bluegill in the livewell left by one of the fish.
   I started the second day of the tournament in a similar manner as the first day and struggled to catch fish.
   At about 10:30, I tied on a 200 series Bandit crankbait with a chartreuse side to match the bluegill and began catching fish.
   The first fish I caught had the crankbait completely inside its mouth. The placement of the bait on the inside of the mouth was a good indicator it was the right size and color of the food source. I had to use pliers to get the bait from the fish.
   I continued catching fish on the crankbait and had five fish that weighed 20.2 pounds at the end of the day.
   Four of the five fish weighed-in the second day were caught on the Bandit 200 series crankbait.
   If we had continued flipping and pitching, we would not have caught the fish. But, by recognizing and matching the food source, we finished third in the tournament.
   If we had recognized and matched the food source the first day, we might have won the tournament.
   Once we matched the food source, it was easy to catch the fish.

Don Ingram publishes an outdoor article titled “Outdoors with Don Ingram” that is printed in various publications throughout Kentucky. He is a two-time All-American qualifier. Don has been very successful competing in tournaments in Kentucky and Tennessee. He has appeared on numerous outdoor television programs like, “Kentucky Afield,” Walmart’s “Great Outdoors,” and “Outdoors with Dave Shuffett,” aired on the Outdoor Life Network and the Outdoor Channel. Don is a Pro Staffer for the following companies: Skeeter Boats, Yamaha Outboards, Shimano G-Loomis Rods, Bandit Bait Company, Prowler Soft Plastics, Mustad, Optima Batteries, Lunker Lure, and P-Line.

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