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The drop shot post reminded me how new I'm to this board and how much needs to be covered. Jim may have already cover how to read maps, both electronic GPS and paper topographic. Those of us you fish deep water lakes like highland, canyon, hillland etc., are familiar, or should be, with outside structure. Buck Perry made his living with Spoon plugs trolling outside breakline over 40 years ago and coined the word "structure fishing". What is structure? Anything that is perminate in the lake or river verses cover that is temporary. Dams, ledges, ridges, points, rocks piles, rip rap, under water islands or humps, abrupt changes in depth and saddles between humps or points are all elements we call structure. Without electronics we can use visual aids like looking at what the terrain around the lake is like. The terrain under water is usually very similar to the surrounding area. Bass relate to changes in water depth that have structural elements. This is key to outside structure because is give the bass a place to ambush prey like baitfish. The waters surface puts a lid on the bait fish, they can't above it. When a school of shad for example in deep open water come to a long under water point or hump, they need to move up in the water column or swim around the structure. Bass hold near these structures knowing the bait fish can only move up toward the surface to escape. This is one reason why working up hill is very effective on outside structure. Look over maps and note small flats located on outside structure near the depth you have metered bait fish, these are bass magnets, when combined with other cover or rock piles for example. Watch birds that are pushing shad schools toward known structure elements and be there ahead of the birds.
Tom
 

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Thats some excellent information you have shared there Tom. It's definitely appreciated :)

I think one mistake a good many anglers make is to confuse structure with cover.

I think one of my biggest challenges since moving to the south has been lakes like Santee Cooper. Up north I was use to lakes that had all kinds of structural elements that could easily be pinpointed on sonar. My favorite to fish were sharp drops.
Down here on Santee, I expected to see the similiar structure and to be targeting it and haulin in hawgs hand over fist. This wasnt the case though. This isnt the case with many of the places I fish and I am kind of fed up with having no structure lol For me it can get very frustrating. Santee Cooper and many of the other smaller lakes I fish will have bottoms that change depths at a rate of 1 foot every several hundred yards (or if we're talking Santee Cooper it could be miles) aka no well defined drop offs. I long for a deep channel, a hump or a well defined ditch. There are times when I just can not pin point the fish because of acres of similiar cover and a featureless bottom. It drives me nuts! Any suggestions anybody?

Jared
 

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Move ta Hot Springs :D

When I go to a new lake, I look over the terrain before getting there. The general lay of the land is important unless the lake was dozed flat as in making a municipal reservoir, or was formed in a canyon that isn't typical terrain. I look for aerial photos and quad maps of terrain above and below a lake to get an idea of what the lake bottom looked like.

On the water I am already confident I've studied well. But still I take some time to just look around even with GPS waypoints waiting to be visited. Most of most lakes will appear all the same, whether covered with hydrilla leaving only boat lanes, or just a bowl of water. I look for "different". Anything different out there will do. A point is different. A lone snag sticking up. Some flotsam packed in a little pocket. An old refrigerator dumped by an old ramp. A tree floating across a cove. A place where in spring the water temp is one degree warmer than anywhere else. A small area that for whatever reason is muddied up. An area in a muddy lake that is clearer. An old road comes downhill to the water's edge. It probably went to the river. Surviving drainage ditches along it are structure, fish highways. Old culverts under it are now structure. An old submerged concrete ridge railing is prime structure.

I note which way the wind has been blowing overnight and presently. I can get the general drift of it from weather reports before launching. Wind blows plankton around (all lakes have that), and it drifts with prevailing wind current. Plankton gets pushed up against points and general shoreline pockets and coves, trapped. Baitfish follow that, their primary food supply. Like Tom wrote, the bass come along and find the baitfish in a difficulty, wanting out of the trap, but having no escape route. Baitfish are pinned against the surface or a downwind shoreline, underwater ridge, or saddle between two islands.

I like to find saddles barely touching the water surface. They are usually sand or gravel bars. If they are trapping baitfish and I can get the boat to the downwind (lee) side, I cast across the bar so as to fish lures upslope over there. Narrow points are another great spot if they are barely out of the water. We have lots of those. I always set up on the lee side next to shore, casting across the points beginning at the windward pocket next to shore over there, and work my way to the point, then down the lee side. If working a bait down slope on the lee side doesn't produce, I consider moving to the windward side in case it works there. I don't like fishing points pulling lures from shallow to deep. Not just one, but several potential keepers often follow the lure out from their ambush spots, scattered in deep water at least 20 minutes. The idea is to keep them on their ambush stations.

Tom mentioned birds. I pay a lot of attention to fish eaters. They don't hang around where there's nothing to eat. We have real sea gulls here, diving over a school of baitfish being forced to surface.

Jim
 

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Discussion Starter #4
As you can see this is or can be a deep topic and needs to look at This is one reason calendar periods and lake classifications are so important to recognize. What is under the water and ecosystem in general. Current breaks, color changes, nutrient break line and most important of all temperature breaks like the thermocline all affect bass location and activity.
Structure elements in lowland reservoirs like Santee Cooper are not the same as in a highland reservoir. The breaks a small 1 to 2 foot humps and channels that were at one time much more pronounced, however have silted in over time. Soil transitions become structure elements and attract fresh water clams for example and the shell beds become structure. The original creek and river channels are still there, just rounded off and filled in. However stumps, rocks, gravel are visible with a good sonar unit or isolated weed beds. You need to learn to read secondary echos on the sonar unit that indicate the original hard bottom as a dense return and watch for the echos to rise through the softer less dense mud to the surface where some hard soil or even rock maybe available for bass to hold on. Mark all these areas with your GPS and check them out from time to as bass tend to be Territorial and will return when prey is available. Soon as time allows, we can discuss the cold water and pre spawn periods as they relate to this topic. Wish I could type as fast as Jim and communicate half as well!
Tom
 

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I love it! Thank you . This is the type of info.I love to study and what will make us all better bass fisherman.Anybody can catch'em when their active and it's easy but this knowledge is what you must know to increase your catch percentages when it's tough.
 

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The most basic fact that helps me is to always remember bass are animals with protective instincts much like other animals. All of them have a first command to survive. The deer change fur color and blend in seasonally, sniffin wind, sleeping where the fewest enemies go (us hunters, coyotes) or right behind a county home where no shots are ever heard. I live in the city and have signs of deer all the time, especially in the vege garden. I quit planting azaleas because deer love them. We have a terrible time growing a zoysia lawn free of weeds because 50-60 wild turkeys come off the National Park mountain and poke and dig all over the place. They know where to go and be safe.

What Tom brought up is simple. Very simple. A bass WILL find and guard the deepest little "private" hole in a shallow lake, even if you can't put a 5 gal bucket in it. A 6" depression made by a rice contouring plow long ago on Santee Cooper is going to look mighty good to a bass. Those rice field drain ditches are now bass super highways in and out of feeding and spawning area, the places where a falling tide will leave you in your boat high and dry overnight if you miss the tidal cue. It's those little things that attract bass. They are like us in some ways. I like to sit under a nice dogwood tree in spring where it's the only tree among a forest of pines. Everyone likes to sit on the flat boulder along the trail, but not on the ground just anywhere. "DIFFERENT". That's where the bass go. That's why you are handicapped without a good sonar, no matter how good a fisherman you are. It would increase your success finding the "different" other anglers can't detect with eyes only.

Jim
 
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Ouachita said:
I like to sit under a nice dogwood tree in spring where it's the only tree among a forest of pines. Everyone like to sit on the flat boulder along the trail, but not on the ground just anywhere. "DIFFERENT". That's where the bass go.
That is a very very VERY good way of putting it! That really makes you thinks and also reminds you that its sometimes not as hard as it seems. When I actually sit back and think about stuff in its simplest form thats when I do my best. Well put.
 

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I write a lot here, but when on the lake I keep it simple first. I think in terms of "If I were a bass would I be here?" My requirements as a mature savy bass are:
Security (not seen by man, close to a deep escape route)
Food supply (baitfish visit my ambush spot every day)
Comfort (nice temp, a little warming sum in the AM, shade in hot sun)
Camoflauge (a lone stump would be nice, away from all those juvenile bass, so would a ditch at the edge of this weedline)
Efficiency (can I surprise a bream here with the least burning of calories? Hey, look, I've gotten lazy and like being fat. Winters are SO much easier that way)

If I can find that spot, I'll take it and fight to keep it.

Simple as that.

Jim
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Reservoirs are usually made by damming a valley to create a volume of water to store for irrigation, drinking water,flood control or power generation. The terrain in the flat land or low land reservoir valley could be a relatively flat basin with few outstanding physical features. Most valleys were farm land or communites before being flooded. The road beds, building foundations, fence or rock hedge rows, walls, culverts, bridges, old equipment, rock piles, tree stumps, creek and stream beds, ponds, mines, quarries and the original meandering river bed all make up structure that at first are not readily visible. Old aerial photos, if available, and topographical survey maps of the area before it was flooded can be valuable to locate these structures. The fact that the main river bed can be shallow with mud banks makes it difficult over time to locate. Smaller creeks and streams tend to have hard wood trees or willows growing along their banks and fade out as they enter the broader valley floor. Try to locate the creek/stream intersections to the main river bed, near the edges of the valley floor at the meandering river bends. The soil tends to be harder clay and the hard wood tree stumps last longer under water. These are slight humps, mounds and depressions that often hold crawdads, bait fish and bass.
Tom
 

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Discussion Starter #10
LakeCityYankee said:
Thats some excellent information you have shared there Tom. It's definitely appreciated :)

I think one mistake a good many anglers make is to confuse structure with cover.

I think one of my biggest challenges since moving to the south has been lakes like Santee Cooper. Up north I was use to lakes that had all kinds of structural elements that could easily be pinpointed on sonar. My favorite to fish were sharp drops.
Down here on Santee, I expected to see the similiar structure and to be targeting it and haulin in hawgs hand over fist. This wasnt the case though. This isnt the case with many of the places I fish and I am kind of fed up with having no structure lol For me it can get very frustrating. Santee Cooper and many of the other smaller lakes I fish will have bottoms that change depths at a rate of 1 foot every several hundred yards (or if we're talking Santee Cooper it could be miles) aka no well defined drop offs. I long for a deep channel, a hump or a well defined ditch. There are times when I just can not pin point the fish because of acres of similiar cover and a featureless bottom. It drives me nuts! Any suggestions anybody?

Jared
[/quote
Please see reply #8
TY
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Thought I would reactivate this old post to remind everyone it's summer almost everywhere by now and the outside water thermoclines zones will becoming the main attraction.

Note. look at "reading water outside", "wood", "leading horses to water", Where do big bass go", Summer grass","The summer doldrums or dog days" and the Tips & Tactics "summer period" and electronics to adjust your sonar to find the "thermocline".
A few added tips on fishing the typical highland and hill land reservoirs. Meter the marina area to determine the life zone or thermocline depth when you launch your boat. Early morning bass my still be held over from bank roaming during the night and stop at heavy weed mats located near deeper water break lines, secondary primary points and main lake major points. As the day warms up and the sun light raises above horizon about 30 degree angle, the move out to deeper second break lines, outside channels, humps, deeper on the points and hold at the life zone or thermocline level. Mid day target the outside bass and move back to the bank as the sun lowers to 30 degrees from the horizon as the bass tend to move up toward late afternoon to begin the bank roaming night foraging time. This cycle should hold during the summer period.
Tom
ref; http://www.thebassholes.com/bassin-forums/index.php?topic=2533.0
topis; 1212.0, 1224.0, 2778.0, 1567.0
 

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Discussion Starter #12
The one season that sets southern California apart from most bass fishing impoundments is the summer seasonal period. Without heavy vegetation cover the bass tend to locate on outside structure and this is why I tend to write about deep water bass fishing techniques during this period.
Tom
 

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oldschool said:
The drop shot post reminded me how new I'm to this board and how much needs to be covered. Jim may have already cover how to read maps, both electronic GPS and paper topographic. Those of us you fish deep water lakes like highland, canyon, hillland etc., are familiar, or should be, with outside structure. Buck Perry made his living with Spoon plugs trolling outside breakline over 40 years ago and coined the word "structure fishing". What is structure? Anything that is perminate in the lake or river verses cover that is temporary. Dams, ledges, ridges, points, rocks piles, rip rap, under water islands or humps, abrupt changes in depth and saddles between humps or points are all elements we call structure. Without electronics we can use visual aids like looking at what the terrain around the lake is like. The terrain under water is usually very similar to the surrounding area. Bass relate to changes in water depth that have structural elements. This is key to outside structure because is give the bass a place to ambush prey like baitfish. The waters surface puts a lid on the bait fish, they can't above it. When a school of shad for example in deep open water come to a long under water point or hump, they need to move up in the water column or swim around the structure. Bass hold near these structures knowing the bait fish can only move up toward the surface to escape. This is one reason why working up hill is very effective on outside structure. Look over maps and note small flats located on outside structure near the depth you have metered bait fish, these are bass magnets, when combined with other cover or rock piles for example. Watch birds that are pushing shad schools toward known structure elements and be there ahead of the birds.
Tom
Tom,

I've got my copy of Buck's booklets on structure fishing. Very, very, good information.
 
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Absolutely a plethora of knowledge here to make anyone a better fisherman.
 

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Subtle structure variations. We have a foothill lake here called Berryessa it has many different topographic changes and fishes to any style. On one side of the lake are submerged Wine Vinyards this is a flat that extends for a mile out and about 15 miles long. There are many great big fish taken from this area however the experts that fish this side of the lake spend hours graphing and fishing heavy jigs to get a feel for subtle changes. One starts by looking on land or on the topo for small creek channels that feed the lake. The channels are silted in due to years of run off however there are bends or turns where the silt exposes rock or creates a depression, these areas will hold MANY MANY fish and typically the same size. By locating several of spots and GPSing them an angler has the ability to follow these changes. Sounds a little like the Santee Cooper that you are describing, I know this area baffles many fisherman and they key to familiar zones and techniques. But stay at it, areas like this can be a gold mine.

Recently I won a tournament dragging a NOTHING bank that slopped forever into deep water, there were two key areas in a 100yd stretch that held fish they both had clam shells (at least that is what it felt like) and softball size rocks that were probably no bigger then a 3x3 area. Nothing banks with a little bit of change can be magnets for bass, unfortunatly it takes time and study to find out what nothing banks offer great subtle changes of structure.

Good post! :cheers:
 

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:cool2:This topic right here is why I am proud to be a Basshole! This information is the best information that you possibly ask for. Better than any Bass Publication that I have ever read.
Thanks alot for the education! This is the most informative site on the web bar none.
 

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Wow, some great information in this thread. Thank you to all who shared. two days and I'm addicted to this site. Thank you Bassholes!! :cheers:
 

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With the advent of Structure Scan and Side Imaging I thought that it was time to revisit this. There is another thread I'll pull up also.
Rodney
 
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