WHERE'S THE BASS?
(By "The Bass Coach" Roger Lee
Where’s the what?... Where’s the
bass! How many of us anglers (tournament and recreational) go to a body of
water you’ve never fished before, drop the boat in the water, then, ask this
question to yourself? This is probably one of the biggest topics in bass
fishing that an angler should learn more about. I generally receive about
two hundred (give or take) emails and phone calls each week from anglers,
prospective bass fishing school students, and charter clients from all over
the Nation (even some from foreign countries) asking me many different
questions related to bass fishing. Out of all of these questions, I would
have to say that about sixty-five percent of them would be on how to locate
bass in their area, or on a body of water that they have never fished
before. I would comfortably say that locating bass and understanding the
water would be the number one question among bass anglers today. The next
most asked question would be is which baits they should use to catch “big”
Now when you think about it, there is really only two
(2) main topics that go hand-in-hand when it comes to bass fishing, and if
you understood more about these two,
You would definitely become a much better angler, and
- Knowing how to locate bass.
- Knowing how to catch bass using all the
different techniques, presentations, and baits.
Learning how to locate bass can be somewhat of a
challenge to most anglers because there are so many different factors that
need to be determined such as;
- Knowing how to read a map…
- Knowing the most practical places to look for
“Active Bass” just after cold fronts and during early spring and late
- Understanding water depth…
- Water clarity...
- Water temperatures...
- Seasonal patterns...
- Locating structure areas...
- Finding vegetation areas...
and believe me, there is more! Being
a consistent bass angler is so much more than just getting in your boat,
hitting the water, and casting your baits… That’s why bass tournaments are
so competitive and exciting, because the more you learn about locating bass
the quicker you can start catching them right? And hey, isn’t that half the
Let’s start by looking at a lake map.
There are two general types of lake maps that most anglers will use which
are referred to as the; “Hot Spot” and “Topographical” maps. The differences
between the two is that a “Topo” map shows more detail, and the “Hot Spots”
map shows more fishing spots (well, at least they’re supposed to :-) The
secret (or key) in learning how to use a lake map would be to sector the
map. What I mean by this is that I will take the map and study it for a
moment (looking for areas where the fish would most likely be.) Next, I will
(using a highlighter) divide the map in sections based on how much time I
have to pre-fish for a tournament or how many days I have to just fish the
body of water for fun. The size of the sections will vary depending on
contours, structure, and how many places I may want to check out during the
course of the day based on what the map shows me. I am certainly not one to
just cast a bait into the water and work it for five minutes and leave; I
will try an assortment of baits if I see signs of fish in any given area to
try to establish a working pattern.
Here are some key elements I usually look for when it
comes to locating bass on any given body of water:
- Vegetation areas…
- Irregular contours…
- Shallow water close to deep water areas…
- Points and point drops…
- Various types of structure…
Let’s take the first one, VEGETATION,
this is by far my favorite because you will usually find more congregated
bass in vegetation than anywhere else on the whole body of water. Remember,
a bass needs three things to survive and that is a. FOOD b. OXYGEN c. COVER
(or structure) that’s it, and vegetation offers it all! Now, I know what
some of you are asking yourselves, you are thinking; well, what if there’s
no vegetation right? Then simply go to the other elements 2, 3, 4, and 5
that I mentioned above.
Now, correct me if I’m wrong, but,
how many of you anglers’ fish the weed lines and never go in the midst of
the weeds? I can’t tell you how many times (while showing my students how to
fish weeds) that we will go to weedy areas just to see other anglers fish
the outside weed lines for a while, and then, watch them move on. After they
pull away from the outside weed area, I will pull the boat up into the midst
of the weeds (in the same areas where these other anglers were fishing) and
start catching bass (usually nice quality ones.) I have known many anglers
over the past several years that have just hated to pull up weeds, or they
don’t like when they get weeds on their boat carpets or in their boats, or
they just get tired of picking the weeds off their hooks. Well guess what?
I’ll suffer through these bothersome weeds any day of the week because
that’s where you will usually find the bass in numbers.
There are several different baits and
techniques that can be a bit tricky to use when fishing weedy areas and I
won’t go into them right now, but keep in mind that weeds (especially when
you find several different types of vegetation in one area) are by far my
number one choice to fish than all the other areas combined. One of the best
places you’ll find bass would be in vegetation areas, especially if you have
different types of structure in the weeds, and better yet!, if this weedy,
structured, area is close to where the shallow water meets the deep
water…..Boy-O-Boy!.....Hold-On!.....Try It, “You’ll Like It!”
Now, if you can’t seem to find any
vegetation areas on your body of water, then, look for the structure.
Structure can consist of many different things like;
- Rip-Rap (chunk rock areas)…
- Overhangs (where tree branches hang over the
- Irregular contours…
- Rocky areas…
- Road beds…
So really, just about anything other
than the flat, smooth, bottoms that offer nothing at all (which are a waste
of time to fish anyway) would be considered as structure areas.
I hope this article has given you a
better incite on what to look for when it comes to locating bass. I know
that what I have shared with you certainly helps me, and I hope that it can
help you to!
If you wish to learn bass fishing,
and might be interested in attending my 3-Day “On-Water” Bass Fishing School
located on the world’s famous Lake Champlain or Lake George (located in
upstate NY), or maybe you would just like to charter a day of bass fishing?
You can contact me by calling (518) 597-4240 or you can visit my web site at
or simply email me at
Until next time, Take Care & God
"The Bass Coach"...Roger Lee Brown"