Do you have any suggestions on how I can get a handle of the the type of bait that might be present throughout the changing season in these two very different locations? Thanks.
I think Doublerunner pretty much summed up a decent approach to finding bait. I like to check the dock lights at night, as well as always looking at what is on the beach. Also, you don't need to know every bait, just the dominant general patterns.
Sand eels, when in periods of abundance, are fairly easy to identiy. In my neck of the woods I look for the juveniles to be washed up on the beach late June and early July, and look for the adults in the fall.
The other small bait gets lumped into a group called "white bait", and primarily of bay anchovies, spearing, and to a lesser extent, certain types of sardines and other pizza toppers LOL. The primary white bait for me is the bay anchovy, and they mass around inlets before making the jump into the ocean in the fall. They can fuel some great bites along the beach.
Other baits like Mullet are targets of opportunity when they are abundant also, and they can usually be seen leaving the inlets, sticking close to the rocks in vee formations. They also stick close to the beach, near the surface, and in that vee formation. For my area, they are always traveling west along the beach and make their presence in the wash known by that vee wake.
Also, talking to your local B&T guys can be helpful.
Questions. What do small green crabs and short yellow poppers have in common?! Is there a common denominator? What would you have been casting under those circumstances? Thanks for the help.
Small green crabs and yellow poppers have nothing in common and may not have been the primary forage the bass were feeding on. You were about mid-way into the tide, and you had been moving around. You may have come upon a location (meaning beach structure) that had some other type of bait present (other than those crabs) that was not apparent to the naked eye. This happens frequently and is when I go to my "test patterns". Anyway, you may have happened on to a bait / location / bite scenario right at the right time, resulting in a fish.