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Comfort zone - A four season fishery

By Mark Huntington

How to fish small and medium size impoundments in Pennsylvania.

Impoundments i.e. (dams, lakes and reservoirs) of under 500 water surface acres in size, less than 80 ft. depth in general, commonly referred to in slang terms as “sleeper”. This slang term represents a condition of the water found in the impoundment in question. “Sleepers” are host to big fish, at a slow catch rate. The reasoning for this is as follows:
1. The absence of fish activity is only limited to our repeated fishing habits and the quality of water.
How often during the summer season (Memorial Day - Labor Day ) do we hear or say the following expressions i.e. (too hot, windy, weedy and fish too small)?
2. Now think of the impoundment as a large fish bowl. Fish adjust to present conditions of the water, yet most fishermen don’t! Fish prefer certain conditions that make up a zone that we call a “comfort zone”. Each species of fish requires a different zone. If these conditions are not met its called “sleeper” or a non-active zone.

Two main ingredients that make up a large portion of the comfort zone are:
1. D.O. (dissolved oxygen ) and measured in parts per million (ppm). Readings of less than 3ppm are found to be absent of fish, 3-4 ppm a sleeper and readings of 8-10 ppm are exceptional for these impoundments in summer.
2. Temperature. Most all depth/fish finders have surface temperature readings. Fish seek temperature throughout the entire water column. Good D.O. and temperature rates result in active and feeding fish. You will also find that impoundments lacking thermocline in summer will hold fish between the *Secchi disk line and the 15 ft depth.

Four season conclusion.

- Winters ice season creates an equal balance in all depths. We find ourselves only limited to our location on the ice here!

Spring/Fall seasons are transitional times for fish, water and weather. It’s the time of the year big fish are moving throughout the water column and the time we find the least amount of fishermen.

Summer season we find D.O. is lacking in its depths and water surface temperatures are heating up. Fish become stressed and lockjaw.

Successful summer formula

1. Fish above the 15 ft. Depth to avoid depleted D.O. zones and below the 3 ft. depth to avoid small fish. Try to fish structure within the 15 ft. Depth range.
2. Fish the headwaters, tributaries, creek channels and oxygenated waters.
3. Fish low light conditions and after heavy or sustained rains.
4. Find maps of these impoundments and good structure map showing manmade and natural structures.

* Secchi disk (a measuring device that measures surface light penetration of water).
** Huntingtons lake structure maps

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