I have tried to look back a few years into my bass fishing life and mentally capture some of the wrongs that I committed along the way in order to finds some helpful tips to help anglers improve their competitive bass fishing game. And like many other anglers, I have discovered far more wrongs than I have rights.
Once upon a time, I like many bass anglers before me, asked a comrade for some tips any good fishing locations on a lake that I had very little experience on. This guy was always on the fish. I figured that he may be able to provide me with enough information to place a little higher in an upcoming tournament. So after a long discussion involving several mythical sacks that he had been pulling from the lake in the last few weeks, he gave me several GPS marks where I could locate some of the same monster bass.
The first wrong in this situation was relying on another angler’s information to help myself. You will never be a good bass angler if you can’t find your own fish. You’ve got to escape the ‘dock talk’ trap. The second wrong was in my failure to know anything about these areas except how to find them on a computer. It was after several practice days of not catching any fish that I realized a single element about bass fishing that is certain to improve your personal tournament performance. I have dubbed this element “The Super Structure”.
You could call it “The Super Cover” as well, but that’s a discussion on semantics for another article. However you want to say it, we’re going to define it as a structure, within a structure, or cover within a structure. Let’s say you learn at flat that continually produces good fish in the spring. You are most likely catching your fish from a structure within the flat that you may or may not be aware of. Is there a ditch running through the flat? Is there a hole or depression where the bass are stacking up? Maybe it’s a mud flat, and you have found an area of gravel bottom. Or maybe it’s a stump field. If you consistently catch bas from a main lake point, are you catching the fish from a rock pile on the point, or a depth change feature?
As a good bass angler, you know where bass will most likely move or stay, using underwater features that make it easier for them to do the things they need to do to survive, like eat, or lay in wait of food, or spawn, or migrate. To take your fishing to the next level, you need to learn how to locate the hidden structure or cover within those areas. I have discovered that any time you locate a good fishing area, more often than not, you can locate a “Super Structure” within the area that will make your fishing area all the more productive. Keep in mind that this is not only a numbers discussion, but size as well. If you are consistently catching bass in the two pound range off of a flat in various places, maybe you can locate a series of stumps or a depth change where the four-pound bass are hanging out.
A grass bed is a perfect example. A grass bed can be a sizeable piece of cover. Fish will roam the cover of the grass in random patterns, and if you fish the grass bed all day, you will catch fish from random places. But if you found a fifty square foot area where the depth of water in the grass bed was two feet deeper, there would most likely be a great number of fish per square foot, or a larger size of bass than the rest of the grass bed will hold. Look for a ditch, or a series of stumps, or a rock pile, or a simple bottom change within the grass bed, and you will catch more and bigger fish.
You are most likely familiar with several different types of “Super Structures” already, but do you realize what they are? A bend in a creek channel would be one. A depth change on a point would be one. Sunken logs or even abandoned tires on a spawning flat are things that I would call “Super Structures”. A different type of grass on a grass covered shoreline should be taken into consideration. A single cedar tree in a hardwood timbered cove might produce better fish, or vice versa.
Nine times out of ten, whether they are realized or not, anglers catch bass from a “Super Structure”. The whole key to improving your bass catching skills is realizing what you have found, and learning what has just happed to let you catch a fish. Your average angler may just catch a fish in a spot and move on. The better angler will take some quick steps to learn a little more about the spot. If I catch a bass on a crankbait, in six feet of water, on a nothing bank, I would most likely pick up a jig or a worm and probe the depths of the spot to see what’s down there. With either of those two baits I can feel the bottom, or available cover, or discover a depth change that I cannot see by floating over the top of it. I will often work the spot away from the bank to the first depth change, or use my electronics to cover the surrounding area to see what I am missing.
There are a whole lot of things about catching bass that involve way too much common sense for most of us to grasp. We tend to get too analytical about the very natural thing that makes up a feeding bass. We see what we have done from our perspective, and where our skills are strong, and forget to think about why the bass did what it did, or why the bass is where it is. Once you find the right structure or cover, everything else is up to nature. There are few times when the natural behavior of the bass doesn’t dictate the location and feeding time of a bass. The skill of the angler comes in learning where to look, and what to throw, and how to throw it. The rest is not up to you, and don’t ever think it is.