Finding the correct angle or direction to bring your lure past a piece of cover or over certain structure is vital to catching the best bass that cover or structure has to offer. We hear it all the time, “Make multiple casts to a strike zone”. However, what you don’t hear is that, inside those multiple casts to the same target, also try different casting angles. How many times have you fished an area or target and said, “There should have been a bass there.” I recently fished a Weekend Series tournament on Tyler Lake in Texas. Since it was March, there were several productive patterns on the lake. The most popular pattern was to fish the numerous boat docks throughout the lake.
Needless to say, the better docks were found quickly, and anglers set up milk runs. Finding a productive dock was easy really, all you had to do was look around the lake and see where everyone was fishing. In pre fishing, I was able to lock down a pattern inside a pattern, and then in the tournament refine it even more. To start, I had found bass on docks. After covering well over a hundred docks, it was easy to realize that only docks with brush under them were producing tournament quality bass. Then, only docks with brush and a drop off nearby. The night before the tournament I marked several places on my GPS and had planned to rotate between them.
Tournament morning, it was quickly obvious that only the docks I had started on, would not be ABC (Already Been Chewed). As I tried moving around to my other locations, I had to wait in line to fish any specific dock. My first spot produced two solid keepers, giving me a good start. My second and third locations were unproductive. Letting the boat traffic get into my head, I started to worry that I might only have the two fish at weigh-in.
I pulled up on a set of three docks; all three fit the location pattern with brush under them. On my first pass, I failed to hook up with a bass. These docks fit the pattern too well not to try again. So I turned the boat around and went back through them, this time hitting two bass. The preverbal light bulb went off. These bass were setting up in the brush under the docks in such a way that you have to be very specific in order to get a strike.
My pattern was to pitch a spinnerbait up under brush filled docks where the brush was in 1-2 feet of water. The more brush the more bass holding in the area. Making multiple casts was vital to getting a strike; however, finding that exact casting angle was just as important. Once the correct casting angle to the brush pile under the dock was found, you could catch two or three bass from the same cast. However, if you were off just a few inches you were not going to get a strike.
On one particular dock, not only was the casting angle very specific, but your retrieve speed had to be such that you would tick a specific limb laying under the water. Every time I passed by this dock and made the correct angle cast at the correct speed I’d catch a bass. I remember it mostly because, every time I went to fish this dock there was a boat working it already. When that boat would move on down the bank, I could set up on the dock to make this specific cast and catch a bass.
This pattern was so specific, and needed enough patience to make multiple casts, that my confidence in following other anglers around the docks was high. I could see that other anglers were working the docks way too fast. At the speed they would move past a dock, there was no way they had made enough casts to produce fish. Sure they would occasionally catch one, but it got to the point I could call my casts.
This event taught me some things. First, bass can be picky. Sometimes bass will hold up in a certain location and only feed when prey moves though a specific strike zone. This is probably because bass have set up in positions that either from camouflage or the ability to pin prey against objects, feeding success is best.
Multiple casts to the same piece of cover are important; however, just because you hit both sides of it three times and didn’t produce a bass doesn’t mean give up on it. You have to make casts to the left, right, front, back, then crash right through the middle of it. I recommend the edges before the middle unless you’re in a time crunch and you’ve already verified the edges won’t work. If I have time I always try the outside edges of cover, even if I know the middle is best. Simple to try and pick off any bass that might be there. If you catch the one in the middle of the cover first, you’ll spook those stragglers on the outside edge.
Final lesson, multiple casts to the same location need to be adjusted. Either by changing retrieve speed, deflecting your bait off of different objects, or even presenting a different color or vibration bait. Bass can sit on a piece of cover, and after several casts to the same strike zone you can make it mad enough it may strike. Or you can keep changing attributes of your presentation to find out what little trigger will make that bass strike. This can change from bass to bass. During this tournament, I caught the majority of my bass on a double willow leaf spinnerbait. However, I also caught bass on an Indiana bladed spinnerbait and a square bill crank bait. With three different bait choices, I had a primary bait and two backups. The backups were used when, after several casts with my primary bait, a strike wasn’t produced in a very likely strike zone. I wouldn’t leave an area that matched all the criteria until I exhausted the secondary baits. If all the tangible items were present, one of those three baits would produce a strike.
Bottom line for this tournament, I had to spend quite a bit of time trying to catch each bass. Simply casting to or under a dock would produce occasionally, however, finding all the pieces to the puzzle in one location ensured a bass. Once these pieces were found, all you had to do is find which limb that bass was holding on, and then put a bait in that bass’s specific strike zone.
This may seem very complicated to discuss, but once you’ve found a likely piece of cover taking the time and truly dissect it can lead to a very productive pattern that will put you in the winner’s circle. Even when your pattern is simple, say, running a spinnerbait by any brush pile produces a strike; finding those specific casting angles can produce larger fish. The biggest bass will always have the best location. If it’s a brush pile, the biggest bass will have the best hiding spot that still allows for the best feeding opportunity. Picking casting angles apart will give you the greatest chance at catching the largest bass the area has to offer.
My final thought on casting angles; don’t quit after you catch a bass. I have caught a full limit of bass from one specific casting angle in as quick as five casts. It doesn’t take more than a stump, current wind or water current, shade, or a variety of other conditions or objects to set up the perfect spot. Pay attention to detail and watch your casting angles; you too can find that spot called, “Cord Wood”.
There are many times when we hit the water and bass seemingly jump in the boat. Especially in the spring months, catching bass can be as simply as fishing your favorite or confidence bait. However, because of a weather front or excessive fishing pressure, your fantastic pattern can shut off like a switch. Take the time to start refining your pattern, find the patterns within the pattern and keep refining it until you’ve found that specific cast that will produce. Once you’ve done this, you’ll find that your standing on the edge of your boat on point like a bird dog. Confidence will be high, and the strikes will happen. Now it’s time to do battle with the bass!
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