Large School (wolf packs) of Big Bass Feeding on Lake Bottom-Engbretson Underwater Photography

By autumn, some lakes have developed mats of filamentous algae on the lake floor. This tapestry provides cover for crayfish, sculpins and darters who can move around undetected…. they think. During this time, bass (both largemouth and smallmouth) will form large schools, roaming the lake floor looking for the smallest movement that would give away the location of their prey. These “wolf packs”, or pods of bass that hunt together, and are always on the move, will patrol the same areas on a daily basis, almost like a milk run. It’s believed by tournament bass fisherman that September is a key time when wolf-packs form.
In this HD underwater video, you’ll see how wolf-packs hunt.

I’ve come to discover that shooting video underwater of fish like these largemouth and smallmouth bass is a lot like still photography, and it poses many of the same challenges. There’s so many things that have to be right to be able to get a good picture or video. First, the water has to be clear. Freshwater lakes are typically pretty crummy so finding lakes that have the necessary clarity is an ongoing process. The clarity can change from week to week and season to season too, so even though I have my favorite lakes, they’re not always clear enough to work in. Everything starts with water clarity and if you don’t have that, nothing else matters.

Once you find a clear lake, you have to find fish. Next you have to find fish of desirable size. This is easier said than done too. That’s always a problem especially these days when it seems like there’s fewer and fewer really nice fish available. If you do find a lake that’s clear and it does have a few good fish, another challenge is getting close enough to photograph them. I like to be 2 or 3 feet away. Fish often times have a problem with a diver being that close, so it takes a lot of patience to even get close enough to fill the frame. But once you have clear water, good fish, get close enough to shoot them, you still have to capture it all. So even if everything else is right, sometimes you blow it all on the final step because you were moving, or the composition is bad or you forgot to turn on the strobe, etc….
A lot goes wrong. Sometimes I feel like it’s truly a miracle to get any good pictures or videos at all because so many things that we can’t control have to be right all at the same time.

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