Bass fishing rocks is one of my favorite types of cover. I’ll never pass by rocks without giving them a try! Some of my best bass fishing outings have been on rock patterns. In fact, the largest margin that I’ve won a tournament by is 4.5 pounds, and I had the winning fish caught by 8 o’clock in the morning. I caught all of those fish on a rocky seawall.
Rocks attract an abundance of forage for bass to feed on and you can bet that if you find the rocks, you will eventually find the bass. Once you find bass around rocks, it’s not uncommon to find them in schools that can change your day in a hurry! Randy Howell’s win during the 2014 Bassmaster Classic is proof of this. If you watched this tournament on TV, you saw Randy hauling in one fish after another while fishing riprap along a bridge. To boot, hundreds of people stood and watched from the bridge as Randy put on a riprap fishing clinic.
Rocks create a dynamic aquatic ecosystem that results in an ideal food chain scenario for bass. Organic matter becomes trapped in between the rocks, and algae grows on rocks. This provides food for two of a bass’ favorite prey: crawfish and baitfish. In addition to a food source for bass, rocks absorb sunlight and provide a source of heat for bass in the colder months. Bass will cling to the rocks to absorb the radiant heat. Rocky structures come in several forms such as riprap, jetties, chunk rock and submerged rock piles.
Riprap refers to large rocks that are normally placed at dams, shorelines, bridges, marinas, etc., to prevent erosion. Riprap areas provide bass three things essential to survival: prey, cover and quick access to deeper water. Riprap consists of long stretches of rock, which can be especially long around dams and can be intimidating when trying to narrow down where to locate fish. Bass by nature are drawn to irregularities, so look for areas such as indentions or areas where the rocks form a point and start there. Another good area to concentrate is where the riprap ends and the normal bottom begins. Bass will hide in these areas during mid-day when the sun is high waiting to ambush prey. Other key locations to Iook for are areas where the riprap converges with other cover such as wood, grass or lily pads; these areas can be dynamite! Keep in mind the old adage, wind is your friend. Wind creates current around the rocks and bass will be more actively feeding versus calmer periods. Rocks and wind are a deadly combination!
Rock jetties are another type of rock cover that are a bass magnet. Jetties are constructed from large chucks of rocks starting at the bank and come out to a point. Jetties are normally found on river systems. Their purpose is to steer the river’s current to help maintain the waterway’s channel. I just mentioned a key word, CURRENT! Not only do jetties provide bass a source of prey, but they also provide them with current which is something that bass love. Current can activate bass and kick them into a feeding frenzy. Bass will hide on the slack water side of jetties, known as eddies, to avoid fighting current. They will ambush baitfish as they are pushed across the rocks by the current. If the waterway commission is pulling current, you can bet that I will be fishing a jetty. I have caught two bass over six pounds on the Red River in Louisiana fishing jetties with current present, and six pounds is a big fish for the main river. When fishing jetties, I’ll key in on any irregularity or where there is an eddy, logjam, or vegetation. Another key is to find jetties connected to backwater creeks and backwater areas. These jetties provide key travel routes for bass throughout the year when making their migration to and from the main river.
Other rock structures I like to fish are banks that were once lined with rocks, and replaced with newer concrete seawalls. Landowners will push the existing rocks away from the bank and replace them with more modern seawalls. These rocks will normally be submerged, but when you find them you will often find a gold mine. The same applies when a dilapidated concrete seawall is replaced with a newer one. The older seawall will be busted up into chunk rock and pushed out into the water.
Random rock pilings in the middle of the lake can be outstanding areas as well. These are sometimes rock piles left behind during the construction of a new lake, bridge or dam. They are typically hard to find and take good electronics or a buddy willing to share waypoints, but they are worth the time and effort you’ll spend searching for them. Timmy Horton found a submerged rock pile on Lake Champlain and crushed the Bassmaster Elite Series field finishing 12 pounds ahead of the second place contender, Skeet Reese. Timmy was at the dock eating pizza by noon on the last day of competition and had a total weight of 83 pounds for the tournament.
Bass hanging around rocks are normally feeding on shad and crawfish, so my favorite baits are a crankbait and a football jig. The choice of crankbait I’ll use will depend on the depth of the water I’m fishing, and the depth that the fish are holding. I like to keep my boat close to the bank and cast parallel to the rocks, keeping the bait in the strike zone longer. The key is to make sure your bait is in constant contact with the rocks, if not, you will not likely get bites. When fishing a jig, I opt for a football head because it doesn’t get hung in the rocks as much and it’s designed to stand up and mimic a crawfish in a defensive position. I’ll stay out more from the bank and cast the jig at a 45-degree angle working it slowly back to the boat, or I’ll hop it when the fish and prey are more active. A Norris Custom Jig in the color “Boo” is my go to color in 90% of my rock fishing situations. For exceptionally stanined water I’ll opt for a Norris Custom Jig in black and blue.
Another extremely effective bait around rocks is a big worm like the V&M WildThang. I especially like the 10.5 inch WildThang during summer months when the fish are holding deeper on the rocks. The WildThang has a unique tail that creates a vibration unlike any other worm I’ve fished and it does a great job at grabbing the fish’s attention at deeper depths. For deeper depths, I like to rig the WildThang with a ½ ounce tungsten weight. I’ll let the fish tell me what they want, by hopping it or dragging it slowly.
If the fish are finicky or if they stop biting other baits, I’ll use a shakey head or a drop shot. I have caught more fish than I can count on a V&M Trickster and V&M Mag Finesse Worm rigged on a ¼ ounce Spot Remover hook. Really, you can catch them around rocks anytime with a skakey head; you just won’t catch the quality of fish that you will catch with larger baits. If it’s a super tough day and the fish aren’t eating, I’ll go to a V&M Pork Pin rigged on a drop shot.
Early in the morning, I’ll fish a topwater around rocks. The fish will likely be pulled up shallow in the morning feeding, so I’ll keep my boat close to the bank and cast parallel with the rocks. I like popper style baits, like the Yellow Magic, if there is wood present and “walk the dog” baits, like a Zara Spook, if there are rocks only. If there’s any type of vegetation around the rocks, I’ll use a V&M Bayou Bullfrog or a V&M Cyclone Buzzbait.
There are plenty of other techniques that are effective around rocks such as jerkbaits and slow rolling spinnerbaits in the coldest months. Also, chatterbaits, lipless cranks, soft plastic jerkbaits and many more. Fish your strengths based on of the season and you will eventually find the fish.
One thing is for sure, if you find rocks, you will eventually find the bass. Whether it’s riprap, jetties, chunk rock, or submerged rock piles, bass gravitate to rocks because they provide a form of cover, access to deep water and an abundance of prey.
If you don’t fish rocks often, or have been too intimidated to fish long stretches of rocks, I hope you will give it a try after reading this. I guarantee once you learn how to fish rocks, you will be glad you did; you will have one of the best options of bass fishing cover at your disposal.
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