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The River Buffet

By Justin Tralli

Many people often wonder what is on the menu of a Connecticut River bass. Is it crawfish, is it shad, is it other game fish. They are often fooled when they see massive schools of bait swimming past the boat. Well let's find out just what is.

The Connecticut River is home to more than fifteen major species of game fish. The bass, both small and largemouth, have a wide array of food to choose from.

First, let's take a moment and look at the make-up of both the smallmouth and largemouth.

Smallmouth especially are an open-water feeder. Yes, they can be sitting next to a log or rock waiting for a minnow or crawfish to come by, but as a species, they are built to run down prey in open water. Why is this important you may ask? Because this piece of knowledge will help you decide what type of lure to use and where to use it.

If you look at a smallmouth bass' tail you will notice that it is "fork" shaped. Much more narrow than a largemouth. Just like every other species of fish with this shape tail, for example a tuna, they are built for speed. This piece of information should tell you that you can use a faster moving lure (example: spinnerbait, buzzbait, crankbait, etc.) to catch the fish. A smallmouth's strike range is more than three times that of a largemouth; meaning they will chase a lure or bait further.

A largemouth however, is more lazy and cunning. They don't' have a large strike range, especially a Connecticut River largemouth. Also, they don't like moving water so therefore you need to bring the bait to them. Flipping and pitching worms and jigs into thick wood or grass are the two most effective ways to bring the bait to the fish. You have to almost drop it their face to catch them.

Now lets talk about the food they eat. Alewives, brim and crawfish are the three most predominant food sources for a bass in the River.

Crawfish especially are on the menu. They are slow, high in protein, and are abundant. During the spring of the year the crawfish have a orange to red color. Their shells are constantly shedding and they are very visible to the bass. (*Red is the most predominant color a bass can see!*) During the summer and fall they change to a green color with hints of orange and blue. As the angler, you want your lure to resemble, to the best you can, the color of the crawfish.  You even want to match the color with your spinnerbaits and buzzbaits! Naturally, during a certain time of year, the bass are looking for a specific color. For instance, if it's spring they are looking for red. So, throw lures with red in them.

The next time you go out bassin' on the beautiful Connecticut River, be sure to "match the hatch" and key in, on the craws!

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