Whether you are a touring bass pro or just a bass angler that likes to go to new lakes, you have come across the issue of learning a new body of water. There are a lot of articles out there covering this topic but I’d like to further simplify it by showing you how I do it. There are two main things I try to do when I fish for bass in new water; make it simple and fish my strengths.
Make It Simple
Just like you have probably read in other articles, I first factor in seasonal bass behavior and factors like water temps, weather patterns, etc. Then I’ll get on the web in an attempt to find out about productive areas from past tournaments. After completing my research, I make it as simple as possible. I pick a section of the lake I feel fits the details and learn everything I can about that area. I want to know the cover available in the area, how the creek/river channel lays out, and the water clarity throughout the area. Basically every detail I can think of.
This may seem like I’m making it difficult. However, by picking a small section of the lake, I’m learning every detail about a 500 acre area instead of a tiny bit about a 60,000+ acre impoundment. The key is eliminating unproductive water and patterns.
Fish Your Strengths
No matter where I go in the country, I try as best I can to stay in my comfort zone. By that, I mean I’ll do whatever I can to fish with lures and techniques I’m comfortable with. For example, I’m not much of a ledge fisherman. If I’m fishing a lake where this is normally the dominant pattern, I may give it a little time in practice but I’m not going to commit to it unless I really figure something out. If I’m just out fun fishing, I still may not spend a ton of time on it because I’m more interested in catching fish than trying to learn a technique. Note: I’m not saying I don’t try to learn. I just do those things on specific trips. I’ll cover that in another article.
After taking all of these factors into mind, trying to decide which technique to try should be a simple matter. Basically, just ask yourself what do you have confidence in that fits the conditions. Just because your strengths conflict with the normal patterns/techniques for a lake doesn’t mean you can’t catch fish. Instead, look at the positives, the areas you will be fishing probably don’t see as much pressure as most of the lake. There was a recent FLW tournament at Kentucky Lake in which Greg Hackney found an area similar to what I’m describing. While the rest of the field was fishing river ledges, he found something shallower that fit his strengths. Basically, he had those fish all to himself.
Bringing It All Together
At this point, hopefully, I’ve figured out one or two types of cover situations holding active fish and how to catch them. Now I just need to find similar places on the lake. When I find them, I set a waypoint on my GPS to make it easier to find them later. Having these points already established, I can go to potential areas, make a few casts, and find out fairly quickly if the fish are active. And all the while, I’m using baits I have confidence in. If I’m not catching fish, using those confidence baits allows me to know fairly quickly if I need to change presentations/baits. Whereas, if I was trying a new “dominant” technique, I might start second guessing myself and thinking I’m doing something wrong or I’m in the wrong area.
While all of this has worked very well for me, it is still fishing. We’ve all read a ton of articles on the best way to catch bass, but these fish we all love so much have never read a single one! Sometimes things don’t go according to plan. In my next article, I’ll cover what I do when Plan A goes out the window.