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How Can Knowing a Lake’s Classification Help Summer Anglers?

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Are you familiar with the lake classification system? If not, as an angler it would behoove you to become acquainted with the system. In my opinion, knowing a body of water's classification provides clues as to where the fish may be hiding during the summer months and what tactics to use. Here is a bit more information:


There are several ways to classify a lake. One of the most common, and pertinent, to anglers is the lake's trophic classification. There are four main trophic classifications; eutrophic, hypereutrophic, mesotrophic and oligotrophic. For the purpose of this article, I'll be briefly focusing on eutrophic waters. When a lake is said to be eutrophic, it means that the lake has a high degree of aquatic plant life, increased turbidity, a soft lake bed and decreased oxygen levels.

Where Are the Fish?

During the summer months, lakes naturally stratify into three layers based on water temperatures. The cooler water sinks to the bottom (hypolimnion) and the warmer water rises to the top (epilimnion). The middle layer is what seasoned anglers refer to as the thermocline.

In eutrophic lakes, that summer stratification can cause various species of fish to migrate to certain areas based on their need for oxygen. The reason why is the high levels of decaying plant life found in a eutrophic lake cause the hypolimnion level to have very low levels of oxygen and high levels of sediment. Species such as bass tend to need dissolved oxygen levels in the 9 to 12 ppm range to survive. Therefore, if the dissolved oxygen level of a lake's hypolimnion level is outside that range, summer bass are likely to be found in the lake's thermocline or epilimnion levels. The depleted oxygen levels coupled with the summer heat may also cause some species of fish to become stressed and lethargic. Thus, knowing a lake's classification and a fish species' oxygen needs will help anglers know what areas and depths to target.

Tactical Clues

When a lake is classified as eutrophic, anglers may expect very poor water clarity in the summer and dense vegetation mats. Therefore, tactics that involve using flashy, noisy, smelly lures that give off high levels of vibration would be worthwhile. Topwater lures flipped around the edges of vegetation mats near channels may work too. Targeting shady structures and the shallows are also worthy of consideration because most fish tend to seek out cooler spots during the summer heat.

Killeen Gonzalez enjoys summer sports and recreation with her family. She has also traveled extensively and fished in eutrophic waters.

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