(Editor's note: The following is the latest installment in a series of fishing tips presented by The Bass University. Check back each Friday for a new tip.)
You may have a top-flight boat and boxes upon boxes of tackle, but if you don’t know the spots to target, it’s all a waste. While modern electronics and mapping make the search easier, Pete Gluszek said much of the process of finding prime cover can be undertaken with your eyes – if you know what to look for.
Visible isolated targets are often a good place to start. When you see one, like a laydown, “I want your red flag to go up,” Gluszek said. When he sees an obvious laydown or other target he attacks it systematically.
“One of the first places I like to look is the very outside tips of the trees, the branches that stick out furthest in the water,” he explained. He believes that the most aggressive fish are often on the outside, and the biggest fish are often in the “meat” of the target, so after plying the outer reaches he’ll go into the heart of his target. If he flips or pitches a lure in there and it’s not where he intended, he’ll try again until he gets it right: “Never be satisfied with a substandard cast.”
While visible cover provides a road map for his eyes, he also imagines what is going on beneath the surface. For example, 5 feet of a log may be showing, but it might be 40 feet long in total, so he’ll try to hit key ambush points that he envisions but can’t see. Around reeds, he’ll try to cast as if there are undercut banks where big fish are lying. When overhanging trees prevent him from seeing the spot where the surface meets the bank, he’ll skip a lure back under and hold on.
Some of his highest percentage spots are where two types of cover intersect, like a log on the edge of a grass bed or a dock with a laydown tree abutting it.
He’ll also consider the season when figuring out how to approach cover and discern which of it is likely to be most productive. For example, in the early spring and late fall, areas exposed to the sun can produce. The same thing is true during the spawn because bass “won’t have beds in shaded areas.” On the other hand, during the warmer months he often looks for shaded areas. “It allows fish to feel comfortable, feel safe and still have ambush opportunities in that gin-clear, crystal-clear water.”
He encourages anglers to break down larger pieces of cover into their component parts. For example, bridges, which create a “necking action” in which “the current is accelerated” might have several different potential holding places – including the bridge pilings, riprap, eddies and rock piles. Sometimes bass will prefer one over the others for seasonal or feeding-related reasons. The same with docks. While it’s not always possible to pattern docks, there are definitely days when the fish favor the walkways, float, boat slips or outer pilings over any other zone.
“The more complicated the docks, usually the better it is,” Gluszek added. “The more isolated the dock, usually the better it is.”
If you want to learn more about how Gluszek analyzes visible cover, and why both beginners and advanced anglers should heed his lessons on the road to tournament success, check out his full video, available only by subscribing to The Bass University TV.