Are there always bass shallow?

You bet there are, so long as you keep a working definition of shallow in mind.

Let’s start at the beginning. I have a hard time believing that a bass — largemouth, smallmouth or spot — swims miles from the back of a creek out to the main river and maybe all the way to the dam just because it’s cold or just because it’s hot. He probably doesn’t even know the river channel exists. He lives where he lives. He doesn’t know any different.

It’s my opinion that some bass live shallow and some live deep, and that they spend their lives within that depth range. There’s no doubt that bass move horizontally and vertically. However, they don’t move nearly as much or as far as some anglers think.

I grew up and cut my teeth on the Ohio River. It’s not the best bass fishery. Nevertheless, I guarantee you that I can catch bass in less than 5 feet of water with a crankbait or a Silver Buddy right now, today. There’s deeper water around and some of it isn’t mucky, but the bass are still shallow.

Guntersville is another example. It might be winter but you can catch bass with a lipless crankbait near the grass edges in 6 to 8 feet of water. The bass have a ton of water that’s deeper around them, but they’re still shallow.

This is true even in the deep, clear reservoirs. They’re fishing the float-and-fly on Dale Hollow now. Typically they’ll bite a fly at 9 to 14 feet over deep water points and alongside bluff walls. Deep water down there means 40 to 70 feet.

Those bass, mostly smallmouth, aren’t coming up from that depth to eat a 1/32-ounce jig. They probably can’t even see it from that far away. They’re suspended shallow. If there’s a day or two of warm, sunny weather they’ll move up the points or along the bluffs even shallower. But that movement isn’t very far, maybe 200 yards at the most. They’re shallow bass and they stay that way.

You see a similar scenario on Lake Erie. In the heat of the summer most guys are fishing in 20 to 30 feet of water. I know for a fact that you can catch bass on the shallow rocky flats, too. The season of the year, or the water temperature, has very little to do with how far they move.

And that brings us back to a working definition of shallow. In 4 feet of water shallow might be 1 foot. At Dale Hollow 9-14 feet over 70 feet of water is also shallow. It’s a matter of perspective.

No bass angler should be afraid to fish shallow, not ever and not for any reason.

Please don’t think I’m saying that bass are always homebodies. They move with environmental conditions to be sure. But they don’t move as far or as radically as many anglers and writers would have you believe. Like most creatures, they stay with what they know.