We shall now specifically describe where bass and pike are generally wont to abide, the kind of food they take, the proper baits to use, and the whereabouts we may try for them in lakes and ponds. In shallow waters with muddy bottoms, inducing the growth of weeds, grass, and lilies, in from four to fifteen feet of water, we find that the fish food is mostly frogs, numerous aquatic insects, and their larvae, which include dragon-flies, darning-needles, flying-grasshoppers, and the jumpers, shrimps, shell-fish, beetles, and various bottom creepers. In deep waters, having no aquatic surface growth, with rocky bottoms and certain parts composed of pebbles and sand, upon which grow isolated tufts of aquatic weeds and bottom grass, the fish food is mostly numerous species of minnows, perch, sunfish, and the young of larger species, hellgrammites and crawfish. Where a rocky plateau rises abruptly above the surface, from deep water or an island, the chances are that bass prefer to locate a few yards from it. Bass and pike do not usually lie in deep water at the middle of a lake or pond, where the depth is over thirty feet. A safe distance from the side to fish is from fifteen to thirty feet, more or less. Wall-eyed pike usually prefer, and are mostly caught, in the deeper parts. Lake-trout haunt the deeps, sometimes from one hundred feet to greater depths, rising to the surface in the spring to prey on lake shiners and other minnows. Landlocked salmon, like bass, choose waters of a medium depth, congregating in parts where food is most abundant; much, however, depends upon the nature of the food taken. In all instances food controls the situation; the habits are entirely subservient to the food problem. Many exceptional cases are, of course, always evident, and the reader must consider them when descriptions are given to cover so wide and varied a subject, and many different species of fish with widely different habits. The annexed combination plan of different lake conditions is an attempt to show at a glance the probable places and most likely spots where bass and pike are usually found, also the food they take and the different baits suited to those conditions. Neither bass nor pike are by nature wanderers; they never stray far from the chosen locality; and when this has once been chosen - always with a view to the best feeding-ground - they stay there, unless their food-supply by some reason is cut off - as, for instance, when bottom creepers, like hellgrammites, have changed to the adult state. Then a new food-supply is sought - minnows, frogs, and other foods. In lakes of large extent, like Chautauqua, the home of the banded muskellunge {Lucius ohiensis), the fish food-supply is ample, not only for the muskellunge, but for bass and other fish, so that little or no change of feeding-ground is necessary. Then again, after the young have grown to a fair size, cannibalism provides considerable food for various species, notably bass, pickerel, pike, and muskellunge. The prolific perch, which by some means or other is found in every lake and pond, furnishes probably more fish food than any one other species, with the sunfishes a good second. As stated in the previous chapter concerning trout, the same rule applies to other fishes; that is, the largest fish are always found where food is most abundant. If fish stay where food is scarce, it is only because they are unable to do better or to migrate elsewhere. In describing the annexed lake plan, beginning at the inlet, A, which is usually sandy shallows and the part where minnows and other small fishes congregate - it will often be found that schools of bass haunt that section, especially at evenings, going back to deeper water in the daytime. Crawfish often choose to make their abiding-place in the shallows close to the fresh cool water flowing in the lake. Among the roots of submerged tree trunks, at B, is the favorite haunt of pickerel, and sometimes large bass. In such a place frogs and hellgrammites choose to live and breed; the frogs along the shore, the hellgrammites close by rotting wood. Following the shore-line we gradually get to shallower water where grass and weeds appear, growing just above or lying on the surface, till we come to the deeper water of the lily-pads, at C. Here the water may be from four to twelve feet deep, where the larger fish - pike, pickerel, and bass - take toll of both surface and bottom food: frogs, minnows, various bottom creepers that live and thrive near heavy aquatic vegetation, flying insects and grasshoppers that make their feeding-places on or about the broad leaves of the water-lilies - where the pickerel and bass lying below frequently rise to get food.

Lake plan to show where bass and pike take their natural food

Lake plan to show where bass and pike take their natural food.

Round about the grassy weeds, at D, is a favorite lair for pike, bass, and pickerel, in water from four to six feet deep. They are always alert to pounce on frogs, perch, larvae and adult dragon-flies, also many flying and jumping grasshoppers. In shallower water, where tall grass and weeds grow above the surface nearer the outlet, is usually good fishing with frogs, grasshoppers, and crickets. If the outlet is shallow, the food taken is mostly minnows. When the edge of the lake, and the bottom for some distance out, is rocky, as at F, many bottom creepers live and breed. Hellgrammites and crawfish are plentiful in such a situation. The same is true of the rocky plateau, G, if entirely under water, but should it rise above the surface, making a small island, minnows and frogs furnish additional food. From G down to the inlet, the water running gradually deeper all along from shore, numerous minnows congregate near the shore. It will thus be apparent that the wise and observing angler will do well to think awhile before beginning to fish in unfamiliar water, and he will soon become aware that lake conditions - that is, deep or shallow, weedy or bare of aquatic growth - have much to do with the intelligent pursuit of his favorite sport; that in some lakes frogs are plentiful - in others not at all. He can, however, be well assured that minnows and other fish food of various sizes are the chief diet in almost any lake or pond for all species of game-fish.