by Matt Kiefer

Part 2 of 2

History isn’t always a determining factor when fishing, but historical information can be very useful when applied to current situations. At the end of the year, I started to wonder if gathering more data help in any way? Would this information bring clarity? Would it help me focus on specific baits, patterns, or techniques? Would the data help me figure out some sort of pattern to find the biggest fish in an area? What help would this data be in preparation for the next season?

Gathering the Evidence

The focus data of this article will be the same 18” and above class of fish from Part I of this series, but will get specifically into the 2021 year. I gathered data from the photos and my memory to try to get a complete picture of the big fish caught in 2021.

I’ve set down with the photos, some video, and my memories to compile a pretty good representation of 2021. I created an Excel sheet where I could log the type, weight, length, date, and a link to the photo. Then it was time go through the photos and enter the data. Here is an excerpt:

Analyzing the Data

Since I compiled the numbers of 18” plus fish for previous years already, the first thing that jumped out was the increase in quantity for 2021.  In 2018, I only caught 17 fish over 18”.  This was the first year I decided to make the switch to focus on bass instead of crappie.  In 2019, with increased focus and determination I caught and released 66 bass over 18”.  In 2020, 77 – 18” plus bass graced the Ketch board while visiting my kayak. So, without further ado, the 2021 numbers…

In 2021, I was lucky enough to catch and release a whopping 111 bass over 18”! This list was dominated by Largemouth, but thanks to a few days spent in Michigan this past summer and a couple days on Indiana rivers, 13 of these were Smallmouth. In order to compile the data from the “Size” row, I used a couple formulas bring the results over to another section of the Excel sheet.  Here is a table of that info.

  18” 19” 20” 21” 22” 23”
Greater Than 111 70 40 10 2 1
Only that Class 41 30 30 8 1 1

I don’t weigh every fish, but I did weigh 45 of the 111 caught. Here are a couple of interesting facts. The largest bass of the year was a Christmas Eve present! At 23.25” and 6.56 pounds, this Indiana bass was my biggest in over 4 years. The lightest bass I weighed from this list was an 18.25” that weighed 2.73 lbs. Here is a table with the weight info.

  2# 3# 4# 5# 6#
# Class 2 13 23 6 1

Another interesting data set that came out of this was the months in which these bass were caught.  For the most part it’s pretty typical Midwest fishing from April to September. The January, June, and October months stick out because of out-of-town trips. In order to have Excel calculate this, I used coloring.  I gave each month a color and had Excel represent those colors as a number.

The final bit of data is the bait selection. So many factors go into choosing what to throw. Some anglers like to throw a certain bait or presentation and find fish that will eat that. Other anglers will cycle through baits until the fish let them know that is what they want. I tend to fall somewhere in the middle.  There are things that I like to throw because it’s fun and exciting when you catch a bass on that presentation. But there are times when I cycle through baits. History tells us what baits have worked before, but conditions and fish moods change. Anglers need to either choose wisely or get lucky.

I was able to use a formula on the list of baits to have Excel count the number of times each came up in the list. Going a bit further, I also calculated a Percentage of Use. There were two presentations that made up 62.1% of these fish catches. The split of these two baits wasn’t all that close either. One presentation was a clear winner with 36.9% of big fish catches. Here is a breakdown of all the presentations that caught fish in this data set. There are no numbers listed. A tournament angler has to keep the competitors guessing, right?

Spinnerbait

Punch/Flip
Wacky Rig Frog
Tx Rig Walking Bait
Ned Rig Stupid Tube
Square Bill Crankbait Jackhammer
Deeper Crank Buzz Bait

In Conclusion

Knowing what presentations and baits were successful, coupled with the location and time of year data may allow us to better predict success in the future. This data could help focus efforts on specific patterns or techniques. It could also help prepare for the next season by making sure to have the inventory of baits necessary to be successful at each phase of the fishing season. I will leave you with this thought: collect as much data as possible while you fish. Use an app, a logbook, or just take lots of photos. Memories fade, but the data will last forever!

Note: In part  1 of this article series, Matt explained how to export data to create and code maps.

About the author: Matt Kiefer is a long time KBF member and an accomplished tournament angler from Indiana. In 2021, he was SIYAK Angler of the Year. Matt fishes from a Jackson Kayaks Big Rig. Matt was previously featured in Kayak Bass Fishing in 2020.

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