The Bassholes - It takes one to know one.

Why Fish Patterns, Not Holes?
on Thursday 26 March 2009
by Jared867

Many anglers will return to their tried and trusted holes, on their home lakes, time and time again. However, the anglers who leave these holes and learn how to successfully build and utilize a pattern will become much more consistant anglers.

  Why Fish Patterns, Not Holes?

paragraph indentHere I sit, a minute before midnight, and as usual, fishing is on my mind to such a degree that I can not sleep. I should be sound asleep by now as my alarm is set to sound at 4:15am, then it's off to meet up with my buddy to pre-fish for an upcoming tournament. Yet, I just can't calm my mind down enough to drift off.

paragraph indentI lay in bed thinking of this, then that, then this, this and that again. I've suffered this obsession with bass fishing since I was in my early teens. I love every second of it too. Although a couple more hours of sleep wouldn't be a bad thing. However, it's not going to happen tonight, apparently.

paragraph indentAs I lay and think, examining and dissecting one thought after another, I'm soon focused on the waters I will be fishing in the morning. Wondering where to start, where to proceed to and what holes will be the right holes tomorrow. Oh my God I said it! Holes! I catch myself thinking that and stop the train of thought dead in its tracks. I quickly toss to my other side while re-adjusting my pillow, in an aggravated fashion! Exhaling a deep relieving breath as I shake that dreaded word, holes, out of my mind.

paragraph indentEven as a young kid I heard the mention of holes in publications and other anglers' stories. Admittedly, I too have had, and still do have, holes of my own. Yet since relocating to just about smack dab center of tournament bass fishing heaven (midlands, South Carolina) the word "hole" has become much more prevalent. I hear talks of Stump Hole, Community Hole, 'Fridgerator Hole, etc... Most commonly I hear, "you goin' to your hole?", "you catch 'em in your hole?", "he knows a lot of holes!" , etc... And all I can find myself thinking is "Why?".

paragraph indent"Why what?", you may be asking yourself. My answer - why are they relying on all these holes to catch their fish rather than relying on the entire lake? Yes, you heard right, the entire lake. I'm talking about pattern fishing.

paragraph indentSure a tried and trusted hole will give up fish, pretty regularly.  But you're limited to only a portion of water. Beyond that you are out of your hole. On the other hand, pattern fishing allows you to utilize the entire body of water. In essence the lake or river becomes one enormous hole.

paragraph indentWhat I see most anglers getting confused about is how to build a pattern properly. One of the most important aspects of pattern building does not even involve a fishing rod in your hand, believe it or not. It involves, getting in your boat and riding the entire lake, preferably with a map, several different colored Sharpie fine point markers, a pad and a pen. The only way to execute whatever pattern you do build is to know the lake. The quicker you can weed out wrong water when running a pattern the better your chances will be of weighing down your boat with some prime hawgs. As you ride about the lake, take notice of structure not mapped, vegetation types, different types of timber that stand out, rocks, water clarities, and anything else you find of interest. Detailed notes of this will aid you greatly in the future. I've spent all day doing this on lakes. Remember the age old saying, "Know your foe"? Well, that body of water and all its shores are your foe.

paragraph indentNow when you hit the lake and drop the trolling motor and start fishing, trying to uncover the pattern the fish are on that day, and you hook a fish in 13 feet of water in a weed bed, you will know many more weed beds to run to in order to put your pattern to use. There's that word again, pattern. Such a beautiful word, when it comes right down to it.

paragraph indentI know most of you know what a pattern is but for those who don't: A pattern is what we get after we catch a fish and then evaluate the location, situation and conditions that were present when we caught that fish. Then by applying those exact factors to our knowledge of the water we are fishing, we are able to quickly locate other fish.

paragraph indentWhere I see many anglers go wrong is with the depth of detail in their patterns schematics. For example, many anglers will move down a shore and pick up a fish off fallen timber with a spinner bait run into and over the fall down. The angler notes the structure, fallen timber, the lure and the retrieve. He then goes on to find more fallen timber to bump his spinner bait into. That's his pattern. Sometimes a pattern that simple will work wonderfully, most times though, the pattern needs to have more detail to it in order to truly produce tournament winning limits. It's all in the details. How deep was the water the fallen timber was in? How deep at the bank side? How deep at the further reaching trunk and branches? How close is this fallen timber to a drop off? Was it a gradual drop off or a sharp one? How far from this fallen timber was the channel? Was their current present? If it's a lake, were you in the main lake or in a creek off of it? Was it a creek on the north east side of the south west side? Is their wind? What direction is the wind coming from? How is the wind affecting the area you were in? Were you protected from the wind? Were there weeds? What kind of weeds? What color was the water? What temperature was the water? Was the bottom muddy, sandy or rocky? And you can keep getting more and more detailed but I'm sure you see my point. We're building a quite detailed checklist to gauge the rest of the lake by.

paragraph indentOnce you have your checklist, you begin eliminating a lot of water by pin pointing your efforts on only the areas, of the body of water, that adhere to your pattern. If you have done your homework before hand, and know the body of water, you can now run from one location to the next, duplicating your checklist's factors as you go.

paragraph indentFor instance, take my day of fishing yesterday. I found fish in and around green bushes that stood in 2 to 3 feet of water. The bushes were located on a southern oriented shore that had a wind blowing out of the north, straight into them. Not only were there bushes standing in the water but there was a lot of brush and fallen timber present beneath the surface as well. While the bushes and brush were in 2 to 3 feet of water, within 50 feet from the deepest edge of them, was water that was 6 to 8 feet deep. This deeper water was part of the secondary creek channel. This was the pattern I put together yesterday. I spent my day running in the secondary creek channels, looking for those bushes and brush in 3 feet of water on wind blown shores, always making sure they were not more than 50 feet or so from the deeper water of the secondary creek channels. It paid off well and I had a great day on the water.

paragraph indentEven if your pattern dies off, don’t panic. Re-evaluate your checklist, re-adjust your factors and start casting again. When you catch another fish, make a new checklist and voila you have a new pattern. So, next time you’re on the water, disregard your normal holes and give pattern fishing a chance because, unlike hole fishing, true pattern fishing never leaves your livewell empty.