Bass Fishing Basics for Approaching New Water: Structure and Cover
There are two main questions that people ask when they first approach a new body of water.
What baits should I use?
Where should I fish?
Let’s focus on where to start your search. When you first approach a new fishery there are many different types of questions that you should be asking yourself. Focusing on things like what time of year it is, which way the is wind blowing, what the fish are feeding on, and what the fish are relating to.
These key items will help guide you to what is referred to as high percentage areas.
These are the places where you have the highest likelihood of catching fish. All of the previously listed topics are going to vary depending on what type of fishery you are at and what time of the year it is. For simplicity sake, we will focus on four types of fisheries for now. Before we dive into that though, we need to discuss a few terms and ideas to better help you understand what to look for and when. We also need you to help you better understand what is being said. The terms laydown, structure, and cover are thrown around a lot, but what actually are they?
Cover is a relative term that can virtually mean anything. It can be referring to rocks, underwater logs, sunken pipes, trees, bridge pilings, grass flats, cattails, and much more. It is what fish relate to as they are making their seasonal journeys that provide them with areas of rest and something different to relate to.
Cover is something fish can get around to hide in or around, it makes them feel safer and allows them to get out of “open water”.
However, bass often use deep water as cover. Fish feel most comfortable when they are out of sight of predators. This can be in a thick grass bed, or out in deep water cruising the bottom. This leads to an important concept, the fact that bass like to relate to irregularities or things that are different. This means if there is a large flat and there is one large boulder on that flat, then the fish are going to be relating to that boulder. Now this doesn’t mean they will be sitting on top of it, but they will be relating somewhere close to it.
Structure is much simpler, it refers to concepts like bottom composition or changes in underwater elevation. It can also mean a steep drop off, or area going from really shallow to really deep over a short distance. These areas allow fish to slide up and feed in the shallower water when conditions are right, and then slide back into deeper water when they are being inactive.
These areas also act as a lane to help bass push bait against the steep wall, as well as a travel route that allows them to intercept traveling baitfish.
This structure provides fish with ambush points to have a better chance at catching their intended prey. Structure can also mean flats, points, humps, and channels. It is simply discussing the bottom contour and what the fish are relating to. This gives anglers term to help them break down water and help pinpoint the areas that fish are using at that particular time of year.