Having a clear understanding of the three personalities gives us a clearer understanding of how and why there is such a diversity of fishing pattern on various lakes. This also explains why on certain lakes with similar cover, the patterns are so close to each other. In the late 80s and early 90s Orange Lake and the Kissimmee Chain were very similar in cover and the fish populations were also very similar in every way. We would prefish one lake in exchange for the other when one was off limits. There was always a paycheck under the same type blanket on the other lake. On the other hand the Harris Chain of Lakes there was then and now, a completely different type of cover yielding a whole different set of patterns. While all 3 lake had their difference they all had a good population of shallow water fish. Because of the different types of cover it took different tactics to catch the fish. The key is, the fish were still in the shallow water. The Harris Chain was a grass flipping pattern while Kissimmee and Orange were heavy mat patterns. Kissimmee and Orange both had large areas of lily pads with heavy mat islands. This type of cover was and is home to a large population of shallow water fish wherever it exists. When this type of cover is not present, a heavy line of Kissimmee Grass lines the shallows. The shallow water fish of the area will take up residence here. As the shallow water cover goes so the shallow water fish population will go.
These lakes also have a good open water population of fish. The more deep water any given lake has the bigger the open water population of fish will be. The number of shallow or deep-water fish of any lake is in direct proportion of deep water to shallow water. A lake like Lake Eustis, which has little shallow water in ratio to the deep water, has a fair population of shallow water fish but a large population of open water fish. The Kissimmee Chain has a good mix of both shallow and deep water and thus has about an equal population of fish personalities. In the Kissimmee Chain over the last few years there has been a major shift in vegetation. This is resulting in a shift in total fish population as this change happens.
If we look at another lake that has a good balance of shallow and deep water a good example would be Lake George on the St Johns River. This lake has a good balance of deep and shallow water personalities but also has a big population of Gypsy personality type fish. This is most evident in the spring when the shad run. There will be huge schools of fish chasing the bait in the shallow early morning and late evening. These same schools can be found in the open water mid day. While talking about the St Johns we will touch on the deep water resident fish, they will normally have a home in the mouth of any feeder creek or deep, out side bend in the river.
Lets look a little closer at the Shallow water resident fish. Where does he set up home most of the time and why? As we all know lakes are not smooth bowl bottoms. There are holes, break, shallow bar and every other type of change in the bottom. It is these changes that direct a fish to chose his home. He would prefer something with a view. This is to say a place where he can see out the front porch and have a little deep water to retreat to in the event of danger or a major cold front in the winter. If we had a hole 6 or 7 feet deep by definition this would not be considered deep water but would be a good home for any fish in the area. This hole would be the last to dry up in a drought and thus would hold the older fish in the area. This would also give a fish a good retreat in threat of danger. Normally a fish would seek the heaviest cover in the area and set up house keeping. To help us get a clear picture an aerial view of a forest, or we can look at the woods and shift our thoughts from land back to the water habitat. We have no problem looking in the woods and see deer and all the animals that live there. They follow trail and paths just like we follow roads. Guest what people so do the fish. The hydrilla we see as that topped out mat that we hesitate to run our new boats through, we are just flying over the forest. Under the surface of the water are all those paths and trails just like in the woods. Study this picture until next week it is a power packed visualization of what you cannot see.
God Bless, good fishing
Capt. John Leech