By Marc Rogers
Bass Fishing Bluffs
Many anglers pass by some very productive areas in lakes while traveling to their fishing destinations each and every day. Some head off to shallow flats while others prefer long extended points in deeper water. To some extent the type of water available in each lake determines the type of areas fished. In Florida most waters are shallow due to the make up of the surrounding terrain. Lake Okeechobee has common lake level at 14 feet above sea level. However, Table Rock Lake in southwest Missouri, has a normal summer pool of 915 feet above sea level. Anytime bluff walls are available in a body of water anglers should give serious consideration to fishing them.
Bluff walls have most any type of situations anglers may be looking for when fishing. Bluffs can be fished shallow by targeting the areas where the surface water meets the bluff as well as fished deep by presenting a lure in a vertical presentation. Many submerged points and rock edges (shelves) are also available on bluff walls. Furthermore, they generally are located on an outside river channel swing, which is sometimes an ideal area to catch fish.
Most bluff walls don’t fall off into really deep water immediately. They have a stair step process down to the deepest water. This is where the edges are created and often time hold concentrations of fish. This allows the fish to move in the water column to their preferred depth without having to move long distances. They can move up and down while still having the luxury of maintaining a close distance to cover. Keep in mind that most bluffs also have submerged trees that once grew out of the sides of them before the lake was impounded. These trees are great cover for most any game fish.
A variety of lures can be used while fishing bluff walls. Both crankbaits and spinnerbaits are ideal for retrieving along the face of a bluff while maintaining a preferred depth. Allowing th ese lures to deflect off the submerged trees can often trigger reaction strikes from fish as well.
Jigs are also a great lure to use in these areas. Jigs can be cast perpendicular to the water’s edge and worked slowly out into deeper water while allowing the lure to rest on the submerged rock shelves. The most common mistake made when fishing bottom bouncing lures on bluff walls is an angler may take up to much line during the retrieve. With a jig resting on a rock ledge the angler will lift the rod tip and turn the reel handle while the lure is falling. This will bring the lure out into deeper water and often keep it from resting on the next ledge.
To eliminate this problem the angler should allow the lure to fall on a semi-tight line until it makes contact with the next ledge. A semi-tight line is necessary to allow the angler to feel strikes while the lure is falling. Also, it pays to be a line watcher in this situation. Many times a slight twitch in the line will indicate a fish has picked up the lure on the fall.
The draw backs of using any bottom bouncing lure on bluffs is the tendency for them to get hung up on the edges of rocks as well as lodged in the many crevices in the structure. I have found a football type jig head is the least likely to get stuck in these areas. A jig head with a 60-degree bend in the hook eye will also lessen the chance of your line and knot from getting damaged by the rough terrain. My jig of choice for this style of fishing is an Midwest Custom Tackle Football Jig.
A shaky head jig presentation has become very popular over the last couple of years. I have incorporated this presentation into bluff fishing as well. These types of jig head used in combination with a small worm or crawdad lure are excellent choices for bluff fishing. A spinning outfit is best used in this situation because it allows anglers to opt for lighter line and the bail of the reel can be easily opened to allow a lure to free fall along the bluff. Keep in mind that a shaky head presentation is really just a different form of fishing a more traditional jig.
One of my favorite shaky heads is the Gambler Giggy Head with a Gambler Giggy Stick or Crawdaddy attached. The Gambler Giggy Head is designed so the head of the lure is pushed onto a barb, which is molded, into the head and then the hook is inserted into the bait. This design allows the lure to easily come free from the jig head when a fish strikes and keeps the lure from balling up on the hook point. This jig head has helped me to catch more fish where other jig heads would have had the hook point covered with the lure due to it sliding down the hook. When using a football shaky head I reach for a Midwest Custom Tackle Football Stand-up model.
There are countless ways to present lures on bluff walls. Use your favorites and don’t be afraid to experiment with others. Bluffs can be fished on the water’s surface down to the dark depths. Just remember these area hold almost all of the type of cover and structure anglers like to fish but concentrate them into much smaller areas.