Tag Archive for bass fishing bluffs

Fishing Vertical Edges can be Very Productive

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.

Bluffing the Cold

By Marc Rogers


Bass Fishing Bluffs in Winter

The winter season can prove a difficult time for many anglers.  When the water temperatures fall into the 40-degree range and below the bass’ metabolism slows drastically.  They become lethargic and feed infrequently, sometimes only once per week.  This lethargic behavior makes them more difficult to catch.

Presenting slow moving lures along bluff walls is a very productive technique to catch bass in cold-water conditions.  Bluff walls have some key features that other structure lacks.  Bluff walls allow bass to reach a comfort zone in both temperature and depth with less distance to travel by moving vertically.  If the bass desires a ten-foot depth change they have the opportunity to move just ten feet when positioned along bluff walls.

The key to bluff fishing in the colder seasons is a slow, vertical presentation.  Jigging spoons and jigs tend to be the most productive.  While both lures can be productive the jig is a little more versatile than the spoon for a slow presentation and bass key on crawfish for a cold season diet.

Finesse jigs are often a good choice for winter bass fishing.  The slow metabolism of the bass, a cold-blooded creature, requires much smaller meals in cold water conditions.  The presentation of the jig should also be slow because crayfish are also cold-blooded creatures.  A fast moving crayfish in cold water is very unnatural and not effective for catching bass.  Also, bass will not chase bait when its metabolism is running at such a low rate.

The finesse jig presented to the bass should be natural crayfish colors.  Bright colors are great for grabbing the bass’ attention in warm-water conditions but cold water is a completely different situation.  Natural colored jigs, presented slowly, are much more effective during the winter.  The best colors to use are brown and dark green colors.  Under most winter conditions water clarity is not a factor in color choice because the lack of rain allows for the water to remain clear.  Clear water allows these natural colors to be seen easily by the bass.

Larger jigs are effective at times and many anglers believe this is because the bass will look for bigger meals at fewer intervals to conserve the energy required to pursue prey.  Others believe the larger profile attract the bass’ attention and it is the slow presentation that is the key to the baits effectiveness.  Regardless of the thoughts, it is ideal to tie both baits onto two different outfits and present both in the same areas throughout the day.

Football head jigs are the best choice when presenting jigs in rocky areas.  The football head design keeps the jig positioned upright because of the wide profile of the jig head.  Also, the wide profile minimizes the chance of the jig head getting wedged in crevices throughout the bluff.

Bluff walls offer a variety of structure and cover for the bass.  The broken rocks, strewn throughout the bluffs, are ideal for Smallmouth bass.  Smallmouth bass tend to prefer rock cover more so than Kentucky and Largemouth bass.  Also, Smallmouth bass will often school with others of similar size during the winter.  If a Smallmouth bass is caught the angler should spend some additional time in the same area to target the possible school.  Anglers targeting Largemouth bass should look for fallen trees (commonly called dead falls) along bluff walls.  The Largemouth bass prefer the additional cover provided by the fallen timber.  However, the lure presentation for Largemouth bass is generally the same as for Smallmouth.

Spinning gear is a better choice for presenting lures to bluff walls.  The spinning reel allows an angler to leave the reel’s bail open, which aids in the vertical presentation, by allowing the lure to free-fall through the water column.   To get a true vertical presentation with a bait casting reel anglers must pull line off the spool while the lure is falling.  With either reel, if the spool is locked after the cast a lure will fall with a pendulum like presentation and not keep in contact with the structure.   Keeping the jig in contact with the structure is key to mimicking a crayfish falling along the bluff.  Once the jig rests on the many small ledges on the bluff it should be moved slightly, allowing it to fall to the next ledge.  The key to detecting a strike is paying close attention to the line after the lure lands on a ledge.  Many times the strike is so light an angler cannot feel it.

There are many effective cold-water presentations available to anglers pursuing bass in impoundments.  Current weather and water conditions play a major roll in which ones are most productive on any given day.  However, if you find you favorite impoundment to have water temperatures to be in the low 40-degree range or lower you should spend some of your time presenting jigs on bluff walls.  Clear water conditions will make this presentation even more productive.