Indeed fish can be unpredictable and defy sweeping truisms. That said, you can definitely stack the chips in your favor by adding as much knowledge about a body of water as possible. You've named some great resources. A few further comments of mine would be to focus on as few as lakes as possible until you've attained mastery or close too it. Particularly if you are after quality, it's a statistically dominate approach as compared to bouncing lake to lake. Google earth, reports from this site, and first and foremost a mentor (someone who knows the lake better than you) are great resources. Local bait shops and a good old fashioned topo map go a long way as well. Most of that won't help you out in a blind, but Good luck!
In the quest of never ending knowledge, that is great advise. Thank you.
I mostly fish one body of water and my understanding of the lake has greatly increased over the past few years, but still is far from where I would like it to be, nor will it ever be. How does one come about finding a mentor for a particular lake? I have some really good friends who have taught me a lot about fishing but they don't ever fish my home lake and can't afford taking guided trips.
My main question is really wanting to learn the forage in a particular body of water intimately. Besides time on the water the best way I can think of would be scientific data and or studies.
For example finding the exact species of Crayfish in my home lake and their nuances in the lake like behavior based on water temps, average sizes throughout the seasons of the year, color changes in body and claw tips in each section of the lake based upon the seasonal grass growth patterns or lack there of (Vitamin A deficient or not), etc.
And as another TTFer said to stop trying where to guess where they're at. I'm not so much worried about the study of a bass "seasonal Pattern" and guessing where they should be, but more the rest of the cycle of life that goes on in a lake to give me a bigger picture of what's going on. Trying to give an answer to the question why, what, and how?