By Rick Lawrence (A.K.A The Fish-N-Fool ) –
Let’s talk a little bit on how and where to find bass. First off let me say that bass lake structures vary greatly across the country. Bass lakes range from the huge shallow lakes of Florida, to the deep muddy reservoirs in Virginia, or the deep super clear lakes in California.
Wood is Good
However some things hold true in almost any place you fish. One of the first rules of bass fishing is “Wood is Good.” Almost any kind of wood that’s in the water, or just above it will often times hold fish. Whether it is a fallen tree in the water or just some submerged bushes, wood holds fish! Willow trees that overhang a lake or pond, or hanging into it is even better, and will almost always hold a ton of fish. It’s one of my personal favorite places to fish.
You will want to look for little pockets to cast into. This requires some skill in learning to put your bait where you want it, but the practice will pay off many times over in putting more and bigger fish into the boat. If you are not getting hung-up in the bushes or on a submerged limb some of the time, you’re not getting your bait where it needs to be. The further you can get your bait under an overhanging tree or under a dock, the more and bigger fish you’ll get. Sunken trees, stumps, and brush piles are all good fish holding structures.
Green is Great
The next rule is if “Wood is Good” then “Green is Great”. By green I mean weeds, most all weeds in the water can and do hold fish. The key is to figure out what kind of weeds, and where to fish them. I’d say the most important part of the weed structure is a weed edges of any kind. Cattails, lily pads, reeds, grasses, hydrilla, and probably 100 other types of water plants will hold fish. The secret to whether or not any given patch of weeds holds fish is based on just a couple of things.
First, it must have cover for the fish to hide, but it must also have good depth or a pretty solid mat of weeds on top to keep the light low. Bass prefer low light conditions, but they also need ample cover and also prefer deeper water nearby. To achieve this, bass tend to hide under weeds such as lily pad mats or in any weed that looks like a little underwater forest and have 3 or more feet of water depth. Water clarity is very important in this equation too. The clearer the water the more depth a bass needs to feel comfortable. In very muddy water bass can be found in 1 foot of water without much cover, but will hold tight to what cover there is.
Outside and Inside Edges
In bass fishing you’ll hear a lot about outside and inside edges. Many times you will find weeds near the shoreline that have a small to large gap of open water between it and the bank. The side of the weed that is nearest the bank is the inside edge, and the lake side is the outside edge.
Generally speaking, the outside edge is where you will find most of the bigger fish, but that depends on the time of the year, weather and other factors.
Let’s look at the drawing below and I’ll explain what to look for on the lake you fish for bass holding water.
From left- to-right you have some scum that has blown up against the bank to make a good sun-screen. In that same place you have a deadfall tree that goes down 8 to 10 feet. This is perfect bass habitat, as the fish have three forms of cover. Water depth is an important means of cover. Add that to the deadfall tree and layer of scum on top and that equals fish! Anytime you can add more then one type of cover and together the better the spot will likely be!
So the more often you can put more than one type of cover together the better the chances are that it might hold some good fish. Next, you will notice a pile of rocks in deeper water the right of the deadfall tree. Bass seek out rocks because crawfish like rocks and bass love crawfish. Any good boulder pile will hold some big fish at some time or another. This is a good mid-day type of place to fish when the sun is high and bass are deep. You will then notice a shallow, weedy hump in the middle of the lake. Places like this are good bass habitat as long as the water nearby is deep enough for the fish to feel safe. One thing you don’t want to overlook is manmade structure, such as an old car on the bottom or a big tire. Rock walls and jetties are also good spots. Possibly the best man made structure that holds fish are boat docks. Not all docks hold fish though. You want to seek out the ones that are made from floating logs; and the closer to the water the better. Some of the best fishing docks are the oldest docks that are falling apart and have moss or grasses growing on them. If you can combine a dock with some weeds under it and maybe a patch of lily pads next to it or a brush pile under it, you’ve got a prime spot.
Don’t waste your time fishing metal or plastic docks, as they rarely hold any fish. Any dock that is low to the water however can hold fish, if it has other cover near it. The next piece of structure on the drawing shows a patch of lily pads with an inside and outside edge. Look for big bass on the outside edge in the summer and in the early spring. Bass will be on the inside edge to the bank in the spring when the fish are spawning, if the bottom is not to muddy. Bass require a sand or gravel bottom to spawn in. They will scoop out a shallow bowl in the gravel – about 18” to 24” circumference to lay their eggs.
Bass at this time of the year, in my opinion, should only be caught and released immediately, as other fish will move in and destroy a nest in a few minutes if left unguarded. I’m not a fan of any tournament held at this time of the year that keeps fish in a live well. I am also a firm believer in total catch and release for your larger bass. I wish that all states would adopt a live release policy of all bass over 16”. If you were fishing a tournament it would be legal to have larger fish in the live well, but otherwise it would not. O.K. enough preaching.
The last thing on the map is a reed patch on the far right bank. In late spring to mid-summer, bass can be found in the shallowest water on the lake, as long as there is some type of cover. If it has more than one type of cover it could equal a fishing bonanza.
This second drawing, of lake structure shows flooded trees on the left with a stump field in front of it – a brush pile in deep water. You will notice an old creek bed with a steep bank on one side with a weed covered point that runs deep to a shallow above it. Next it has a deep outside edge weed bed and a shallow point inside edge. It has a shallow flat with some short grass and gravel with a deadfall over it. Where do you think you would find fish in the early spring before the spawn? How about during the spawn and then after? Or late fall? Winter?
Learning to read the water and figuring out where the fish should be for that time of the year and time of day is the most important part of being a successful bass fisherman.
In general, you would find fish on the outside weed edge in the early spring, up on the flat during the spawn and into the late summer in the evening. Back out in the deeper water on the stumps and sunken tree top or brush pile for the cold months. This will not hold true everywhere in the country, but will help 95% of the time to find and catch more fish.
Of course we think best results come when you use Fish-N-Fool Lures. The Sink-N-Fool will catch bass shallow and deep. Fish it in the thickest cover you can find rigged weed less and get ready to catch some big old hogs. Remember with the Sink-N-Fool the “Less you work the bait” the more fish you will catch. In this case Less is More!
About Rick Lawrence (A.K.A. The Fish-N-Fool)
He is owner and the inventor of the Fish-N-Fool Lures and the Fish-N-Fool Knot the winner of “Knot Wars” in 2011. Rick has been a Bass fisherman for almost 40 years and an inventor for another 25 years. “I took all my knowledge of Bass fishing and designed my own line of baits. I wanted a lure that could do things that no lure that was on the market could do, so I started making them myself. It all started with just one lure and now I’m working on a dozen or more”.
Visit Ricks website and shop at: http://www.fnflures.com/index.html and be sure to check out some Fish-N-Fool Lures.