Article by Wayne ‘CajunBass’
Just rambling about fishing. I’m no “expert” but I have been bass fishing for a long time.
No matter where you’re fishing think in terms of “breaks.” A break is something different. A dropoff is a “break.” So is a log in the water. Both will attract fish. A log that has fallen on a drop-off is a “break on a break.” Even better.
A “break” can be anything. A place where two types of grass come together. A place where the shoreline changes from big chunk rock, to gravel, or gravel to sand. You get the idea. The bigger the change the better, but the more subtle they are, the less likely they are to have been seen by other fishermen. Fish relate to these places the same way you relate to road signs. They tell them where they are, and how to get where they’re going as they migrate from deep to shallow and back. A long flat area of mud for example doesn’t give a fish anything to relate to, but if you put a couple of stumps on that same flat, suddenly the fish have a “hangout.” These are the kinds of places you’ll be looking for with your electronics, your crankbaits, your Carolina Rig sinkers.
When fishing a lake, a good tip is to observe the terrain around where you’re fishing. Try to imagine what it looked like before they flooded the lake. Is the land around flat? If so it’s probably flat out under the water too. If it’s steep and drops off suddenly, the same thing probably extends under the water. A gully above ground is probably a ditch under water. If you see that the shoreline changes from pea gravel to chunk rock, you can figure that it extends out into the water also. Watch for those types of places as you fish.
When fishing a river, remember that current is another key. Think of current as wind. In cold weather, you want to get out of the wind. Fish are no different. In cold weather they like to get out of the current so that they don’t expend any more energy than they have to. In the summer it’s just the opposite. Moving water is cooler than standing water. Fish seek out current then. Current is also a break. Anyplace where the direction and speed of the current changes, or where two currents meet is a potential hotspot.
In tidal rivers, the same thing applies, but the water runs both ways. Outgoing tide pulls water and nutrients out of areas and into the main river. As the water falls, baitfish and other forage are forced out of their hiding places. Bass and other predators will “gang up” anywhere the water runs out of those areas. Where a creek meets a channel, where a feeder creek meets a creek, and so on down to a place where you see a trickle of water no bigger than a pencil running across a flat. Baitfish will come out and hold right along the waterline. The predator fish will usually be right on the first breakline waiting for forage to make a mistake and wander over the deeper water. Sometimes they won’t wait, they’ll run up into the shallow water and break up the schools of bait.
Incoming tide has the opposite effect. Baitfish can move back up into the flooded areas and scatter. This makes it much harder for the predators to find them. The predator seems to understand that hunting is tougher at this time, and they tend to “shut off” during incoming. You can find some places where baitfish are forced to congregate, and if you find one, you can bet that predators have already found it too.
The best techniques I’ve found for incoming tide is to simply put your trolling motor down, and cover ground. Fish can still be caught but you have to work harder and cover more area for them. I like to find pads or grass, and throw something like a rattle trap or a buzz bait. Make lots of casts, always casting up the current and bringing your bait back “downstream”. Keep your boat pointing into the current so the current won’t carry you along so fast that you can’t control the boat. You want to be able to turn your trolling motor off, and have the boat drift back from the area you’re fishing, not drift over top of it.