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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Reading Water, Outside

Continuing with reading water, I'm sometimes asked what is outside structure. Outside structure is the lake bottom physical features that are under the water, away from the bank. The vast majority of bass fisherman are somehow tied to the bank by the length of their cast. It seems if you can see the shore but not cast to it, then you are not bass fishing. When looking at the bank try turning your head and look over your shoulder, all that water out there is covering the lake bottom. You can actually cast out that direction and work your lure back to the boat up hill. I know this seems really strange, but you can also run your boat outside and locate underwater structure by studying topo maps or Navonics GPS maps looking for underwater islands, channels, humps, rock piles, trees, old towns and foundations, all kinds of stuff that hold bass year around, except during the spawning period.
Right now during the cold water and pre-spawn periods the majority of the bass are living outside away from the bank, where you should be fishing.
I spend about 75 percent of my time outside fishing structure that few other bass fisherman bother with, year around. The only problem with being out there away from the bank is other boaters going fast that may not see or expect you there, so use caution and watch for boats coming your way. During the cold water and pre-spawn periods bass hold on outside structure feeding on bait fish. Watch for diving birds to indicate that they are working on bait fish. Birds need to come to the surface to swallow a bait fish and you can see them flipping the fish around, tipping the head back to swallow. The direction the birds are swimming will be the same direction the bait fish are moving. Locate structure that compresses the water column shallower and that is where the bass should be positioned waiting for the school to come into range. This could be over a point, hump or underwater island. The smaller school bass will follow the bait fish school and birds, the largeradult bass tend to wait to ambush the school, picking off the easier prey and using the water surface to trap the bait fish. I usually fish jigs or swim baits while watching for birds or active bass.
Tom
 

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Re: Reading Water, Outside

I know you old-timers were fishing way off-shore before GPS was ever heard of. The problem I have had with the triangulation technique is two-fold. First, remembering which two trees I was lining up on. ??? ::) Second, the lake levels fluctuate constantly in the lakes I fish, so the point of view on those trees is subject to change. Oh, and third, I haven't really done it enough to figure it out. And I still haven't splurged on the IFinder I want, so even though I have found some spots when the lake was low, I really haven't ever been able to find them again. I thought I was going to ask a question when I started this post, ??? ::)
 

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Re: Reading Water, Outside

Before GPS, before flashers, there were quadrangle maps of areas before lakes were built, and in our case a couple of old Army aerial photos of the river valley.

We were able to get fairly close to channels, humps, etc with those aids. Once I found a hotspot I looked up and found the closest tree, and spotted another tree behind it higher up. I put a small blaze on that shoreline tree and the second tree so I could line them up from the water. That worked great until the shoreline trees began to wash out into the lake.

A sure fire way to locate structure to this day is dragging a big jig on bottom.

Jim
 

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Re: Reading Water, Outside

I learned to fish on a mountain lake over 7,000 ft elevation that was a multi specie fishery and is primarily a trout lake. To locate gravel or sand bars out from shore we were taught to line up two points of reference, each reference point having a foreground and background prominate features to align. For example a rock wall edge in the foreground and telephone pole in the background, to give you a straight line. These fishing holes were named after one of the points like "the green house", "eagle point", "zebra room", "preachers house", "rock wall", etc. The key was learning to anchor properly and be spot on. First aligning the foreground point with the background of two reference points at least 90 degrees apart, then aligning the second reference point with it's foreground and background references, then you were at that intersection. By anchoring you knew if the bottom was gravel, sand or mud by the way anchor dragged or felt. We would anchor by facing the boat into the direction of the wind about 100 feet ahead of the target area, let out about 150 feet of rope and back up to let out the back anchor. To set the anchors we would pull the boat foreward with front rope about 50 feet and check the reference points on shore for proper location. With the anchor ropes out at angles away from the boat you could make adjustments without disturbing the fish or tangling lines in the ropes.
It never occurred to us that bass could be out away from the bank, we only fished for trout outside.
Tom
 
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Re: Reading Water, Outside

While it is not pre spawn it is post spawn in some areas and I believe Bass relate back to the same areas they related to in pre spawn during the post spawn phase. So hopefully this info will help some of ya'll.
 

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Re: Reading Water, Outside

I believe you're right, Keith. I think that for a certain period of time, they stage in the pre-spawn areas after spawning before going to their normal summer home ranges. An old-timer used to say they were recuperating in those areas after spawning, and that sort-of makes sense.

As far as fishing by landmarks, my father (God rest him) used to use a 4-point landmark system... bow, stern, port, starboard... to locate hotspots, and it always seemed to work for him. He could always nail those underwater fish-holding areas by finding the tree with the bent limb off the bow, the rock that looked like a nose starboard, the house with the missing window shutter port, yadda-yadda-yadda. I tried doing the same thing with hotspots I discovered, and either I didn't do things right or the fish had moved off of the structure I had made note of. During his last few years, my dad's memory had slipped some, so he had written down the 4-point landmarks for a lot of those special spots in a small pocket-sized notebook that he kept in his old metal tacklebox. When he passed, the notebook disappeared. I don't know what happened to it, but it looks like he took those spots with him. I remembered one or two of the spots on a local lake, but couldn't seem to hook up like he used to. Of course, like I said, the fish could've changed neighborhoods. But I can tell you that the landmark system... at least for some anglers... works like a prayer in church. As far as my fishing, all I can say is thank the Lord for depth finders and GPS.
:jitterbug:
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Re: Reading Water, Outside

Listening to KVD describe his 2008 lake Wheeler pattern of the summer bass migration from inside water the summer period outside areas along main lake river channels areas being creek intersections, gullies, rock or shell beds that hold bass all summer. I decided to rejuvenate this thread for the new members and a remainder to everyone that the summer period is here and the bass are out there, over your shoulder.
Tom
 

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Re: Reading Water, Outside

Im unburrying this older thread because it has some great information. :thumbup01:
 

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Re: Reading Water, Outside

This is the other thread on reading water, let the postings begin.
Rodney
 

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Re: Reading Water, Outside

Great post Rodney, I got trapped into that, got to fish the bank mentality for a short period of time, now I regularly look for structure away from the bank, most of my really good fish have come off places were a lot of anglers dont stop to look, or they are sitting right on top of it casting to the bank. Its worth the time to check out all that structure outside the bank. Thanks for a great post. :thumbup01:
 

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Re: Reading Water, Outside

With the advent of good struturce scanning and side scanning this should be much easier for you guys that fish reservoirs, and even those of us that fish "dishpan lakes". I hope to have structure scan on my boat this year, I want it up front where I live, maybe later at the console.
Rodney
 

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Re: Reading Water, Outside

Only problem I see with structure scan is now I have too much structure to fish. ;)
 
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