Freakily the deep water Gypsies that are in a given area will move with the deep-water resident fish as one school. As conditions change the gypsies will move on following the shad. If conditions stay stable they will co-dwell in the deep-water home together. The two schools will move together but remember they are two schools and can move separately. This is very true if there is a big difference in the size of fish in the two schools. After fish reach the 2 Pound size they start to group by size, this is especially important to note as when you catch a really big fish; fish this area thoroughly as there could be a number of the lunkers in the area.
Lets look now when the water slows and the bait starts to leave the area. The bait will follow the deepest contours of the bottom into the open lake to a deep-water home. As a whole fish are very reluctant to swim shallow to get deep. What I am saying here is, fish don’t like to swim over shallow water to look for deep water. They just swim from deep to shallow and return back to the deep. The one exception I have found to this rule is running water. Fish will swim in running water to deeper pockets to feed as in moving from a lake into the river. This is also the reason why when the water slows down they move quickly back to the lake. In their world, don’t get trapped away from their home is a constant concern. The first fish to start to leave are most always the bigger fish. They will follow the deeper contours to home base where they will wait until the next migration when they may move right back to where they just left if there is enough flow to make them confident they can return home again. How much flow does it take to keep a migration active and what stops one are all variables there is no set factor I know of. The biggest factor to watch is the amount of bait in the area. When you see a reduction of shad, start looking for a reduction in bass – they go hand and hand.
What triggers a movement or migration? This I can give some insight about. Migrations are triggered by the need to feed. Under a stable weather pattern the fish will move about the same time every day. There are different theories of what controls this movement. Some lean towards moon phases and tidal charts and some say it is early morning and late evening. I personally lean to low light conditions. When the weather has a change approaching the fish will have a better awareness of this change than you or I will ever get. They can feel this change before any weather change can be monitored. This approaching change triggers a movement and will last until they have gorged themselves or the weather becomes to unstable to support the movement. Even after gorging themselves they may still stay in the shallows in a feeding attitude until the weather changes and pushes the fish deep again. After the return of stable weather and 2 or 3 days the fish will return to the previous feeding periods.
Most movements don’t cover long spans of time or distance. Fish under normal movements don’t swim extreme distance except in moving to the spawning grounds. During these movements the fish will move and stay as long as it takes. If a major front pushes them back towards the deep they will only move as far as the first major break. One of the biggest single factors in locking the jaws of bass tighter than a bank safe is a cold front. Fish in Florida will even cover themselves with mud to escape the effects of the big drop in water temperature that comes with a major cold front. During the summer we don’t see big negative changes in water temperature but these fronts have major effects on the fish behavior. Normally following a low pressure comes a high, this in the winter we would call a cold front. The high blue skies, lack of wind cause deep light penetration and a different slow down in fish activity. During the summer, sunny high blue skies, early cloudy skies mid day, and rains later, we see a whole week of change in weather in 12 hours.
In northern lakes with large shad population, the shad will make major shifts in areas of the lake on weather and seasonal changes. This will trigger a major shift in the bass movements especially in the gypsy population. A good rule to follow for finding shad is: Spring and Fall look in the back of the creeks, feeder arms and flats in the back of the creeks. Winter and summer look for the shad to be in the deep river channels and ledges over 25 feet deep. In natural Florida lakes, look for shad in any moving water any time of the year and in the deep vegetation any other time.