I was looking back through some of my old records the other day and ran across some information on PH and its effect on Bass. This particular information came from some notes I made in 1980 from various sources and said that PH was one of the most important factors in locating bass on any given lake. I found that particularly interesting as we seldom hear much about PH today as a tool in locating concentrations of bass. We all know that a largemouth bass prefers a PH reading of around 7.5-7.9 that has been common knowledge for many years, but I have never really paid much attention to it as far as finding bass.
What is PH? The PH factor is the measurement of the acid or alkaline condition existing in the water at a particular place and time. A reading of 7.0 on a PH meter means the water is neutral with an even mix of acid and alkalinity. Since the scale is logarithmic a small change is very important as a reading of 8.0 is ten times higher than 7.0, and a reading of 9.0 is 100 times higher than a reading of 7.0. So, if you experiment with this on the lake be aware of small changes. Bass studied in large tanks were observed to be much more alert and aware of their surroundings in water between 7.5-7.9. They fed more often and would hit artificial lures moved at a much faster pace under those conditions, they also became more territorial and would fight to protect the preferred areas, as well as feed more often and for longer periods.
I know top bass anglers that say that determining PH was the first thing they did when starting to look for bass before a tournament. They claimed they always looked for likely fish holding spots, and then checked the PH. If the readings were to high or to low they moved on, and kept looking for better water.
I have also read that some top bass anglers believed that PH was the most important factor next to food supply in holding bass in a given area. Coming from a TV show, I heard a professional say that bass will always seek the closest reading to 7.5 they can find. However, if one part of a particular body of water did not have anything close to that, then bass would seek the closest to the comfortable PH as possible. Meaning, if the closest PH to their comfort zone is 8.0, then that is where the largest concentration of bass will be. He continued by saying, that in many instances; he found large concentrations of bass in a relatively small areas. Areas that you would not think of as an ideal place to hold bass; however, the PH was better suited for bass. Often it seems that areas with heavy healthy vegetation are also a likely spot to find that ideal 7.5 PH reading, makes me wonder if the fish are holding on the grass at least partly because of the PH factor. We of course know that grass of all kinds seems to hold bass; we know that bait fish like to hold in the cover it provides and of course the bass enjoy the shade and easy meals afforded by vegetation, now it seems to me that according to some experts in the field it might also have a lot to do with the PH factor. Remember that the ideal 7.5-7.9 may not always be available in your waters so you may have to settle for the closest you can find to that ideal PH reading.
I found all this interesting, and I am going to invest in a PH meter and see if I can find some of those large concentrations.
Earnie (papa) Cella