Developing a Game Plan For Unfamiliar Waters

By Marc Rogers

 

Bass Fishing Tips for New Water

Your fishing trip has been planned for many weeks.You and your favorite fishing partner have gone over every detail to assure nothing has been forgotten. The night before leaving you will find it hard to sleep. The thoughts of where and how you will catch the fish have been filling your mind most of the night. The reasons for the meticulous planning are because you have limited time on the water and you have never been on the body of water you are about to visit.

When most anglers arrive at an unfamiliar body of water they have already obtained as much information about it as possible. Anglers are notorious for knowing what the fish are being caught on before they ever leave home. We will have our whole weekend planned around how others have caught fish at our destination. However, the information we receive may not be current or even correct. The information may have come from a newspaper fishing report that is only as good as its source.While I was on a guided trip in Florida’s Lake Okeechobee, the guide told me when the local newspaper and radio stations contact him he will either tell them the productive lures or the areas, but never both. The best way to avoid the problems of other angler’s information is to listen but remember it is not etched in stone. Fishing is a very dynamic sport where productive methods can change in a very short time.

Many anglers feel that most productive fishing days are the result of a systematic, analytical approach. The best way to get started is to eliminate as much water as possible; break down the whole area into many small areas; eliminate water considered very deep for the particular body of water. Bass are generally more active when positioned in shallow water. The most important things to consider when developing a game plan are the type of water you are fishing, the time of the year, water condition, and weather condition.

The type of water will play a major role in the areas and lure types I begin with. When I refer to type of water these questions arise. Are you going to fish a shallow lake or river where anglers consider deep water ten feet or more; are you visiting a mid-land reservoirs where there are lots of small creek and a few large river channels present; or is your destination a high-land lake where there are sheer bluff walls and deep, clear water? The answer to this question is the first step in a series of items you must consider. The others, though they seem simple, are major pieces to the puzzle.

The time of year must be considered. Fish will behave certain ways during particular seasons. During winter months the water temperature is cold and the fish are lethargic. In the summer fish tend to be the most active but can become lethargic when the water temperatures rise to extremes and the oxygen levels fall. Water condition, particularly temperature and clarity, must be thought about carefully. Bass are a cold blooded creature and their metabolism is directly affected by the water temperature they live in while water clarity dictates how well and far fish can see in the water. All of these things play a part in the sport we call fishing. When you arrive at your destination consider all the things mentioned and use past experiences to get started. Also, look for areas like points, roadbeds, ledges and breaks, underwater humps, and ditches. These types of structures have proven to hold concentrations of fish.

Points have long been a productive place for anglers.Bass use them for migrations routes and staging areas when traveling between deep water. As air and water warm in the spring bass move up from deeper water into shallow areas to spawn. During the summer they will often travel from deep to shallow water on a daily basis. They will move to the shallow areas at night as the surface water cools and return to deep water as temperatures began to rise during the day time hours. Points have long been a favorite of both the bass and the angler.

Bass use roadbeds as migration routes and anglers can easily find them. A good topographical map is an excellent tool for finding roadbeds, but a keen eye on the bank of most reservoirs will most often do just fine. These areas will offer cover to the bass in the form of broken asphalt and concrete, gravel, ditches along the side of the old road, and an occasional bridge. The flat area of the roadbed becomes an avenue for both bait fish and the bass. Also, roadbeds are prime spawning flats, especially the old gravel roadbeds.

Ledges and breaks are similar to points that extend into the water. They are a prime area for the angler interested in structure fishing. The drop offs may be in increments of only a few feet, but can also have vertical drops of twenty feet or more. When approaching these areas watch for bait fish, if present the bass will most likely be close by. Drop offs and ledges are perfect locations for vertical presentations like bouncing a jig or working a spoon.

Under water humps and ditches will quite often hold bass. Humps give a bass an area to locate in water shallower than the surrounding water and the security of being away from the shoreline where anglers often prowl. Ditches are usually found a short way from the shoreline and often create the subtle depth changes bass are looking for.

In your search for areas to fish don’t overlook obvious targets like man made brush piles and fallen down trees. These targets are bombarded with lures every day but if you fish them thoroughly they can pay big dividends. Also, don’t pass up a boat dock that has good cover or deep water close by. On many older lakes docks are a major source of cover for the fish.

Current and sun, or lack of, can influence the way a bass will hold on a particular piece of cover or structure. In most situations when current is flowing bass will be facing into the current for a better position to ambush bait fish. Therefore it is always a good idea to present your offering with the current. Bass have a tendency to swim around more when current is not prevalent. Sun light, in most cases, will cause bass to hold tighter to cover. For a long time it was thought this was true because bass don’t have eyelids and the bright light hurt their eyes. However, now it is believed the reason is due to the fact it is much easier to ambush prey from a darker area looking into the more lighted area.

There are a lot of conditions to consider when putting together a plan of action on unfamiliar water.All the above-mentioned conditions play a major role in the way a bass will behave.The areas mentioned are by no means a complete list of areas to locate concentrations of bass. However, if you will take a close look at both water and weather conditions as well as the time of year when considering these areas, it will make you a better angler. Fishing is a thinking game and bass will generally react the same way as in the past when conditions repeat themselves. Bass are creatures of habit and anglers should count on the oldest and biggest ones to usually follow the same routines to get that way.

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