We all have our favorite lakes that we fish all the time and know dozens of secret honey holes. Most of these sweet spots took lots of scouting to find, a luxury you don’t have on a new lake. Following are my top 5 spots to help you find bass quickly the next time you’re on a new lake trying to find a few fish or if you’re in a tournament and need 1 or 2 more keepers to fill your limit.
#5: Channel Banks: A channel bank is simply where a creek or river channel swings close to the shore in a cove or in the main lake. Sheer bluff banks are often visible in these areas, a dead giveaway of channel banks on many lakes. In other situations, channel banks aren’t as obvious, but they are easily found by looking at a good topo map. With quick access to deep & shallow water, channel banks are a favorite of bass, especially in the cold months of the year. Many bluffs go on for a long ways, so key on the sections where the channel approaches the bank and also where it leaves. These transition zones are often the hot spots, along with any pockets or rockslides along the bluff. All manner of baits produce in these areas, from spinnerbaits and Pointer jerkbaits to dragging finesse jigs or Hyper Worms. Parallel the bank and work quickly until you get bit, and then work the area over with multiple baits for additional fish.
#4: Rip Rap: This manmade cover adorns most lakes and its intricate maze of gaps and holes is a nearly year-round sanctuary for many of the things bass love to eat, including crawfish, bluegills, and baitfish. Rip rap is easy to find and easy to fish as well. Medium running crankbaits like Lucky Craft’s LC 1.5DD in crawfish and shad color schemes quickly pick off active fish; while a green pumpkin Hyper Finesse Worm rigged shaky style on a Dobyns DX702SF spinning rod with 10 lb line will clean up the more stubborn bass.
#3: Docks: Especially in areas of a lake lacking wood or grass cover, bass hang out around boat docks almost all the time, even spawning near them. Most anglers pick around the edges of docks and make the easy casts, leaving fish in the interior available to the more persistent angler. Skip or pitch a 3/8 oz MPack jig with a matching Fork Flipper trailer or a Texas rigged Baby Hyper Freak into the hardest to reach areas of the dock, making repeated casts to key areas. I like a rod with a bit more tip than a stiff flipping stick to help skip my bait way under the docks, so a Dobyns Extreme DX744 really zings the bait back into the darkest corners and it is ultra-sensitive as well to help you feel the bite and find sunken cover. Probe the bottom under and around docks for brush piles, as these hidden jewels can produce a quick limit of lunkers. If the fishing is extremely tough, downsize to a spinning rod with braided line and a Hyper Whack’n Worm rigged on a weedless wacky jighead. The slow flapping fall of the worm entices strikes from inactive fish, while the braid allows you to lead fish out of thick spots.
#2: Points: Fishing extended sections of shallow water jutting out into deep water, or “points,” is not only one of the most basic bass fishing patterns, but it is often also the most productive pattern on any given day. Of course, not all points are created equal. Points can be barren or have grass, timber, or rock on them. Some points are located out in the main lake, while others are located at the mouths of coves or back in creeks. Figuring out which points are best is always the trick, but running a variety of windy points is a great place to start your search. On the shallow portions of points, try square bill crankbaits like a Lucky Craft BDS 3, switching to deep diving cranks like a Flat CB D-20 and Carolina rigged Baby Ring Frys or Hyper Sticks on the ends. Once you get bit, find more similar points and you’ll often be able to quickly put a pattern together.
#1: Isolated Cover: If you’ve ever travelled the highways in West Texas, you can understand why isolated cover is the most surefire bass producer of all. Drive around Dallas with a carful of people at lunchtime and you’ll get 5 different opinions on where to stop. Drive through West Texas and any greasy spoon looks mighty inviting, especially considering the next one might not be for another 80 miles. It’s the same way in fishing. Barren stretches of the lake, devoid of cover, might not have a lot of fish in them, but you can bet your bottom dollar that the ones living in the area will all relate to anything that is there. This so called “isolated cover”—a lone laydown, a single clump of weeds, a solitarily boat dock or rock pile , or even a few pieces of junk in the water—is a proverbial oasis in the desert for bass. I like to quickly fish isolated cover from the distance with a LC 1.5 square bill crankbait or a chatterbait with a Live Magic Shad trailer to catch the active fish. After that, it is time to settle in and start working the area over with repeated pitches of a Texas rigged Fork Creature or Hyper Freak. Believe it or not, a tiny piece of isolated cover can produce multiple fish, often after the 30th, 40th, or even 50th cast to it. And don’t just fish productive areas once. Come back a little later and you’ll likely find a few more fish using the same piece of cover.
By Tom Redington
The next time you’re in a pinch trying to find a few biting bass, give these locations a try. Here’s hoping you catch the lunker of your dreams. If I can be of assistance, please contact me at 214-683-9572 or e-mail me through my website, www.LakeForkGuideTrips.com.
Tom Redington is a full time bass guide on Lake Fork & a FLW Tour pro. He is sponsored by Lake Fork Trophy Lures, Dobyns Rods, Ranger Boats, Evinrude, Diamond Sports Marine, Lucky Craft, Costa Sunglasses, Lowrance, Navionics, & Power Pole.