If I had to venture a guess. I would say that over half, (probably a lot more) of the fisherman that start and even continue bass fishing will begin doing so from the bank. I know that’s how I started getting back into fishing. I would walk the banks of little ponds and county lakes until my feet and legs were sore. It wasn’t until the other night when I was talking with a friend that I never realized the thought process I put into dissecting a new body of water. So what follows will be a quick (as possible) guide to approaching a new body of water from the bank.
First things first. After I find a new body of water the absolute first thing I do is hit the internet. Google Earth is my best friend is this aspect. What I want is a detailed map and layout of the lake. I want to see what the lake looks like before I even get there so I’m not wearing myself out walking all over kingdom come trying to see the lake. From these simple maps you can find out a lot about a lake or pond. Is there a cove? If there is, you can bet there will be some good shallow water there. You can also usually tell where the lake or pond gets its source of fresh water. This is good information because with new water coming in it will attract baitfish and in turn attract bass. With Google Earth you can also see if there are any tree close to the water edge. If there is and its summer then you can bet on some bass being attracted to these areas when they produce some shade on the water.
Second, I want to be as ready to start fishing as I can be. Since I’m going to be on the bank I will carry no more than 3 rods. Some people like 1 or 2 but with 3 I can approach a variety of different situations without changing lures. I will have one tied on with a topwater of some sort usually a dark colored buzzbait. The second rod will most like have a spinnerbait on it. And the third will undoubtedly have a soft plastic on it, most of the time a Texas rigged worm with a sliding bullet weight. No shorter than 7″.
The reasoning for these selections is simple. with these 3 choices I can search the entire depth of the water for fish from top to bottom until I find out where the bass are.
Third, hit the water as early as your body will allow you to wake up. This will help in just a minute. Upon first arriving at the water there are some things to look at. When you arrive (this is where the early part comes in) is there steam coming off the water? If yes, then that would mean that the water temps are warmer than the air temps. What is the air temp? this right here will give you a roundabout way of knowing what the water temp could be.
Fourth, now let’s start fishing. Using the setups I selected the night before. I start with the buzzbait. This is better first thing in the morning. (again the early rising part) Sometimes I’ll start right before it is even light enough to see. Work it really shallow close to the bank. As the sun starts to come up I’ll start alternating between the spinnerbait and buzzbait. Lastly I’ll pick up the most important setup- the worm. The reason this is so important is because by slowly dragging the weighted worm along the bottom you can feel what the bottom is. I.E. is it gravel bottom or rock bottom or mud and clay? Are they big rocks that could provide cover for bass. What about changes in depth.
Remember that on smaller bodies of water that even a single foot of depth change could be holding a lot of fish. In smaller ponds there usually isn’t as much cover so they adapt to smaller changes in depths and contours in the lake.
Finally, the most important thing of all is don’t get discouraged on your first trip. Honestly I don’t go to a new place for the first time expecting to catch a ton of fish. I look at it as more of a recon mission. I’m finding out everything I can about the lake so when I come back I can hopefully not just catch fish but quality fish.
I know I didn’t go into depth on lure choice and colors but this is just a first look at the water and you never know what the fish will like anyway. As we always say “Fish don’t read the same books we do”.
Always be safe and have fun.