While fishing, there is usually ample amount of areas to key in on as to where fish would be. Some of these areas are floated timber fields, grass mats, and drop offs. These are all great areas to produce fish, but one of my favorite areas to key in on, and possibly the easiest, are cuts. When I say cut, I’m being pretty general. A cut, to me, is anything from a canal feeding water into the lake or river you are fishing, to anything like a small ditch doing the same thing. While fishing, I don’t necessarily pick up and move from cut to cut because, the more time that your line is in the water, the better your chance is at catching a fish. But, when I come across a cut I don’t hesitate on getting ready to reel in a fish! Fortunately for me, down here in Louisiana there tends to be ample amounts of cuts coming from swamps, marshes, and “ponds” formed off the main body of water.
I fish with a lot of people and get to learn and notice different things about how people fish. I have noticed a lot of people tend to give a cut a few casts, usually catch a fish, and move on. This is not a great idea considering I find that fish tend to get in schools, size of the school depending on the size and amount of water flowing, around cuts. The key to pulling multiple fish off of a cut is just being able to dissect a cut, which means finding and learning where these fish are on a given day. Sometimes, the fish are just in the mouth of the cut, feeding on anything that moves, and sometimes they move to primary and secondary points and structure of the cut. Finding these fish can be as easy as slowing your roll and thinking!
Typically, when fish are feeding at the mouth of a cut you will know it. You’ll see swirls, splashes, and even bubbles from prolonged feeding. My first choice at feeding fish would be anything like a Fluke/Fluke Jr., Trick Worm/Senko, or pretty much any top water bait. These fish are generally feeding on bait fish, which all of these baits are made to mimic. Just cast passed the action and work your lure right into it. Even if the fish aren’t visually feeding, I tend to cast one of these baits far into the cut and give it a shot anyways.
Here comes the actual “dissection” of the cut. Lure selection can usually be pretty key to catching more of these fish but, I generally fish what I feel most confidence in on that day or area. Whether it is a Jig, a Fluke, or a crank, I will start to fish some structure and points that a cut provides. A cut is flowing water coming into the main body of water, and flowing water creates channels, however slight or great it is. To fish these channels and channel points, I like to throw a Jig or crank bait and work it down the main ledge and point. These tend to be great ambush points for fish and can produce some of the larger fish caught off of a cut. Generally, a cut will have two main ledges and two main points, one of each on both sides of the mouth. With that out of the way, you should start looking for any structure. Is the cut cutting through grass? Is it in between some trees or stumps? Is there isolated structure in the middle of the cut? These are some good questions to ask yourself when you come upon the cut, and generally all of the places are GREAT places for a fish, if not more, to reside. I would usually work these areas slowly with a jig or senko, but there are quite a few baits that would get the job done.
What I consider “primary structure” is pretty much the first major structure near the cut. This is generally a current breaking tree, stump, or lay down. Primary structure isn’t limited to that, it could be grass and even trees and bushes growing over the water. Sometimes, it could be a combination of any of those. My favorite has to be anything breaking the current. The fish tend to be holding right behind the structure just waiting for anything to gobble up! I’ll make a few casts to this structure and then move on to any “secondary structure.” Secondary structure could easily be defined as the second major structure near the cut, but could also be much more subtle. This could be anything ranging from a subtle difference in the grass or bank to an old log farther out in the water. I tend to start working these a lot slower, and changing my speed and presentation if the fish tell me to. I really like to flippin’ and pitchin’ jigs to these areas, as well as throwing a fluke. The main idea is to find what they want, and give it to them!
With all of this said, you should always be looking for patterns. When you find your pattern, every cut could and should produce a few fish! As you troll up to the next cut you would have a better idea of where the fish would be at, and how to catch them. So next time you’re out and want to just give a cut a few casts and move on, think again!