Tom Redington travels the United States from the borders of Canada to Mexico fishing for largemouth, smallmouth and spotted bass in everything from shallow muddy rivers to crystal-clear reservoirs hundreds of feet deep.
Whether he’s running 70 mph downstream in his 21-foot Ranger boat or walking the shoreline with his 8-year-old Cub Scout son, he’s found there are key areas where bass can be located quickly.
Here are some of the top areas to search. Not all will have active fish all the time. Try a variety of these places, and you’ll hook up sooner and more consistently than by just randomly wandering about.
Bass lurk around objects that block the water current. When prey struggles past while fighting the flow, bass dart out to grab an easy meal. Fallen trees, big rocks, bridge pilings, weed clumps, even garbage like an old chair — if it blocks current, bass dwell around it.
As waves wash away the shore over the years, trees topple into lakes and rivers. Bass typically prefer horizonal cover, especially with overhead protection, and laydowns offer both. Best of all, they are easy to find and you can fish them from a boat or the shore. A small tree might hold a fish or two, while a 60-foot oak can extend out with limbs in every direction holding a whole school of fish.
On lakes and rivers with soft bottoms like sand, silt or clay, crushed rock is often spread along shorelines to prevent bank erosion. This crushed rock is called “riprap,” and you commonly find it along roads and bridges that cross the water, plus around dams, marinas and homes. All the cracks and gaps in the rocks make ideal hiding and feeding places for crawdads and smaller fish — what bass call an “all-you-can-eat buffet.”
Again, bass love horizontal shelters that provide overhead protection. Sounds like a boat dock! Just look over the side of most any dock and you’ll see little fish swimming all around it. Hungry bass are stalking just out of sight in the shadows below.
Lily pads, bulrushes, canes, hydrilla, weeds, grass, milfoil, cabbage … some grow up out of the water, some types grow on the surface and others stay underwater. Regardless, if it’s green and in the water, about every link the food chain will be around it. Find grass and you’ll find bass.
A point is simply a place along the shoreline where the bank sticks out into the lake. There are two main lake points at the entrance of any creek or cove, and these are great places to try year-round. Especially in the spring and fall, shallower points along the shoreline or at the mouth of small bays or pockets can be dynamite. Some points drop very quickly into deep water, so the bass will be close to shore. Other points have a slower taper and can run hundreds of feet into the lake. Generally, bass will be shallower on points in the spring and fall, or early and late in the day. During summer and winter, especially in the middle of the day, bass hold on the deeper sections of points, anywhere from 10 to 30 feet deep (the clearer the water, the deeper the fish).