Fisheries Management: Effects of low-water periods in reservoirs
Arriving at your favorite bass lake only to find the water level well below normal is a nightmare every bass angler will have to face sometime in life. Understanding what happens during a low-water period can transform these seemingly disastrous conditions into some fine fishing.

Low-water conditions can occur anywhere in the country, but Southern and Western lakes are most likely to experience low-water conditions, and certainly for the longest durations. Drought conditions have caused low-water conditions in some Texas reservoirs for nearly four years. However, low-water conditions in most lakes are usually present for a much shorter duration. Bass easier to locate in reduced-water-volume situations
by Kevin Yokum
December 10, 2004

 Arriving at your favorite bass lake only to find the water level well below normal is a nightmare every bass angler will have to face sometime in life. Understanding what happens during a low-water period can transform these seemingly disastrous conditions into some fine fishing.

Low-water conditions can occur anywhere in the country, but Southern and Western lakes are most likely to experience low-water conditions, and certainly for the longest durations. Drought conditions have caused low-water conditions in some Texas reservoirs for nearly four years. However, low-water conditions in most lakes are usually present for a much shorter duration.

Fish in a reservoir become really concentrated when the water level drops. Reducing normal pool by 30 percent means that all the lake’s fish are now concentrated in 70 percent of the water that would exist under normal conditions. By eliminating water area and concentrating fish, the odds of encountering bass increase. Locating bass is always a challenging part of fishing, and in a reduced-water-volume situation, bass are easier to locate, especially when they are actively feeding on schools of shad.

Bass and shad have a special relationship, and during low-water periods, a defining moment takes place. Concentrated in the reduced water volume, shad become particularly vulnerable to bass predation. Some people feel that shad populations are adversely affected by the increased predation during low-water conditions. However, shad populations are very resilient, and usually any short-term predation effect is minimal.

In the meantime, bass really pack on pounds as they gorge on shad. As a result, the overall health and condition of bass improve dramatically. After all, isn’t that what we want?

Another side effect of low water levels is that vegetation flourishes in the drawdown zone (area from the current water surface to normal shoreline). Once water levels return to normal, the newly submerged vegetation attracts all kinds of fish. Small fish, baitfish and, of course, bass all flock to the freshly vegetated shallow-water zone. And why wouldn’t they? The zone’s super-productive vegetation offers fish much-needed cover and a solid food supply.

What was once the drawdown zone has now become a submerged haven of vegetation and, thus, the “angler zone.” Anglers love to fish shallow-water cover, and you can be sure there will be plenty of chunky bass among the vegetative structure. Add a few trophy bass to the newly formed cover, and all the ingredients for an exceptional fishing experience are in place.

Biologically, low-water periods are not harmful to bass or forage populations. Those willing to shift fishing locations and adapt to new tactics may experience some of the year’s best fishing when water levels fluctuate.
 
Advertisement

Verse of The Day

“I made haste, and delayed not to keep thy commandments.” (Psalm 119:60)

Save Phace

Use a face shield such as the Fish Hedz by Save Phace. This will keep you from having bugs hit you in the face while driving your boat and it also works well in the rain. They are comfortable, lightweight and don't fog up. For more info go to www.fishhedz.net.