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SHELL BEDS 101

by Jim Porter

I get a lot of emails and telephone calls about how to effectively find shell beds IN THE Stick Marsh, so I will attempt to provide some basic data:

Shell beds are ALWAYS found on high spots. That spot might only be a foot higher than the surrounding terrain. The reason is that Mother Nature gave the shell creatures the instinct for survival and She ingrained one prime directive into their tiny brains: Don't get buried by silt and sand or you will suffocate and die. All living shell creatures live generally by having a constant flow of water through their systems. From that flow, they extract food items and other nutrients. If they grow on a low spot, the silt that settles from the water may eventually cover them and they would die. So, they ALWAYS select a high spot to start their colonies. The levees that border the submerged canals of Farm 13 are perfect and the shells enjoy a pretty safe life. Other shells bed locations can be found simply by watching the depth finder for small changes in the bottom contour. If you see a location that is higher than the surrounding terrain, put that heavy c-rig sinker across it and feel of that bottom. An easy way to find shell beds on the levees is to look for places where the grass on the levees is thin, or does not seem to exist. Sample those places with the c-rig.

Also remember, each levee probably had a small drainage ditch along its outside and a farm road right along the ditch. (They had to have routes for the farm equipment and harvesting trucks/trailers.) The roads were probably a bit higher than the fields so they would not be muddy. Roads, then, become places where shell beds may grow. When the Farm 13 grass becomes thickly matted on the surface, you can usually see the trace of these roads, as well as the ones that went across the fields. The vehicles (and probably some gravel) made the roadbeds hard and grass does not grow well on hard bottom material.

Bass like shell beds because they are good feeding locations. No, bass do not eat the shell creatures. Instead, the small minnows and other aquatic life come to the shell beds to feed on the algae, tiny organisms, and minute plant life that grow on the hard shells. The tiny minnows draw larger predators and eventually the bass will find prey of sufficient size in the location.

Since shell beds provide a fairly clean and uncluttered location, most any lure may be fished. To be sure you are correctly on the shells, a plastic worm with its lead head, or a jig, might be used to feel of the shells. A diving crank plug that runs the correct depth may also be effective. Personally, I would opt for the weighted worm.

Finding shell beds can be a bit time-consuming, but the rewards can be more than worth effort. Shell beds do not move. Once found, they are constant producers of fish. Of course, the bass may not be on that specific bed every time. But, if you have enough shell beds located, you will always find bass on some of them.





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