Identifying one area from another, when everything about it looks the same as the rest can be difficult to do. But learning what to look for can be easy once you have it down as second nature. As a matter of fact, it can be one of the easiest ways to quickly establish a pattern.
Creek mouths are a prime example of how to begin establishing a pattern. If the body of water you are fishing has a few creeks running into it then plan on jumping from one to another until you can determine what presentation they are looking for. You might catch a fish directly in front of the mouth suspended in open water, or from cranking a deep diving crankbait into it’s outflow. I always look for cover that transitions into something else.
First, I would consider the width of the creek mouth, and depth of the creek mouth, as well as it’s surrounding cover. The smaller run off creeks tend to have a swash channel to one side of the creek mouth, while larger creek mouths have been dredged and have a constant depth accross the entire mouth of the creek. A swash channel is caused by run off water flowing at higher than average speeds during high water conditions such as heavy rains or snow melt, these high water currents can cause wash to the side of the creek with least resistance. In the heat of summer when lake surface temps may reach the upper 80’s or as I saw this past summer, low 90’s, a creek with a wash out channel can hold a tremendous ammount of fish seeking refuge from the heat.
When you have narrowed down the type of creek mouth you are dealing with, start taking account of the cover, it’s type, it’s location in relation to the desired depth of the mouth. It may be a lilly pad field, but towards the back of the pads there are stalks of cat-tails or maidencaine.
Your first cast should be directed to the smallest ammount of cover that differentiates itself from the rest. A transition in cover so to speak. If the creek mouth you are fishing has a swash channell, you can try a weighted worm for the bottom, a spinnerbait/crank bait for the middle, and a surface plug/popper for the top. Make slight adjustments in lure color, and retrieval speed until you catch that first fish, then make a mental note of what you were doing when that fish hit. This collected information will give you a starting point each and everytime you are on the water.
Spring and summer are a good time to focus on the mouths of creeks since spring is when you are likely to find more than normal current and with that you will find fish waiting to ambush outflow forage. When water temps begin to drop in the fall months, and the days begin getting shorter, move these same tactics into the backs of creeks to find numbers of schooling baitfish. Do not be disappointed if schooling bass will not hit your presentations. It is fact that when bass are gorging on baitfish this time of year, they are less likely to take an offering from you. Something that has worked for me is a “do nothing” worm presentation. Cast it into the middle of the active fish, and do nothing but allow it to sink to bottom. The subtle movement of the worm will sometimes be enough to draw that strike.