It’s all about the birds

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Bassmaster Marshal

Thanks to Mother Nature, the creatures that are on this earth have internal sensors that help them survive. In many cases, their sensors are better than anything we humans have ever been able to develop for the same purpose. 

Birds are probably the best example of what I’m talking about. I watch them constantly when I’m fishing, as much or more than I watch my electronics. They tell me things that even my high-end, state of the art Lowrance units can’t.

The first, and most obvious, thing I look for is birds sitting on top of the water diving for minnows. That’s a guarantee that there’s forage under them, and it’s also a guarantee that there are bass somewhere nearby.

It’s impossible for me to tell you how many times I’ve seen a couple of guys in a big fancy bass boat blow right by a flock of feeding birds as they look around for a “good place” to fish. I want to yell at them and say that the good place they’re looking for is right in front of them and they don’t need tens of thousands of dollars worth of equipment to find it. Mother Nature has shown it to them for free.

The next thing I look for is a flock of birds sitting on the water but not diving. Watch them carefully and you’ll be able to tell if they’re resting after feeding or just sitting there. If they’re resting after feeding, they’ll be doing nothing, but you can tell they don’t want to leave. They want to stay put. If they haven’t been feeding, they have a don’t care attitude about them, and they’ll leave much more quickly when you approach them.

You see, when they’re resting after feeding the forage is probably still there, or at least it won’t be very far away. That’s when you should stop your boat well away from them, troll up into the area and start casting like mad. 

The third situation I like to see is general bird activity. When they’re flying around, hopping from limb to limb and chirping away that means everything is active, not just them. That’s true on any body of water, but it’s especially true on rivers and streams. 

I fish the Delaware River a lot, or at least I did years ago. I always watched the birds. They’d tell me if something was going on well before I got there. And, I never passed over an area that had active birds in it. I just didn’t. 

Nothing out there lives in isolation. When one animal is active they’ll all be active. It’s like if you start fishing a place and you catch a bluegill, or a crappie, or a catfish. It might not be what you want, but it tells you there are fish in the area and that they’re active. All you have to do is change your approach until you find the bass. Those other species give you confidence, or at least they should.

Pay attention to the birds, guys. They’re easy to see and hear, and they’re super reliable. 

Mike Iaconelli's column appears weekly on Bassmaster.com. You can also find him on Facebook and Twitter or visit his website, mikeiaconelli.com.