Did you resolve to make 2015 the year you explore new waters? Many fisherman experience frustration when fishing for bass in a lake they never fished before. I was inspired to write this blog post by my colleague and iBass360 Pro-Staff Devin Metz who, after recently relocating to Texas, set out yesterday to fish the famed Lake Fork. Here are a few tips and tactics to help conquer unfamiliar waters and make them your own.
My mother always said, if you don’t’ believe it, no one else will. She was the same woman who read me Wally Piper’s classic children’s story The Little Engine that Could over and over until the cover was worn and pages were dog eared. Confidence is one of the most important factors towards filling your live well with tournament worthy bass. Check the water clarity, the temperature and the cloud cover. Fish will behave similarly under similar conditions regardless of the body of water. Once you have your head wrapped around that, pick your confidence bait for the conditions facing you. Don’t just take the lure you bought because Bill Dance or Roland Martin was killing them on TV, pick that bait that has given you good experience in the conditions you are fishing. Like the little train engine, if you think you can, that is more than half the battle.
So you’ve launched on a new lake with a map and some tips both obtained from a local bait shop. Regardless of the season, one tried and true plan is to find the fishiest water in the lake by taking a boat ride around the perimeter. Look for creek mouths, shallow bays, or flats with weed related structure. Often times these locations provide just the temperature difference to put the fish in those areas and the odds of catching them in your favor. Use your depth finder to locate drop offs near these areas which could be holding several fish next to the warm water. You want to look for likely ambush points. It is this type of structure near the warmer water that will make the fish feel comfortable and safe while on the hunt for the bait in the warmer water areas. The fish’s comfort should give you confidence to fish these most likely places in the lake to catch them. Shallow bays with drop offs close by, long points , rocks, laydowns, stumps, weed beds with nearby ledges, these are all classic, year round bass haunts regardless of whether the lake is in upstate New York, the Carolina’s, or the deep south. Fishy water in one lake is very likely to be fishy water in a lot of lakes. Be flexible, vary your tactics to accommodate the weather, water clarity and time of day but look for the familiar structure and work it.
Many fishermen stress over which bait to use. They are constantly doubting themselves and tying on different baits when they should be searching the water with their casts. You know how you like to fish. You know what you like to use under what conditions because it has worked. So the answer is simple- use the bait that you like to use. Of course you should know the local forage so you can “match the hatch” with color, and you certainly will need to vary speeds and types of retrieves to cater to fish activity. If the temperature is in the 30-40 degree mark and you like throwing a jig & pig, slow fishing a worm, slow rolling a spinnerbait or cranking a crankbait over deep structure go with what you know. If the water is in the 40-50 degree range, use the same methods except since fish will be more active, substitute a Rat-L-Trap for that crankbait, consider burning that spinnerbait, and perhaps add a jerkbait or your favorite topwater to the mix. If it works for you in other lakes, work it in this one.
You will find that it is your tried and true methods that will help you find fish in new locations. After you have located them, and established your “mojo”, if you are still dying to try that new bait you bought after watching Ike or KVD catch a tournament winning five pounder- go for it. But don’t be disappointed if under the conditions you are fishing it doesn’t give you those same results. Just go back to using the baits that have brought you good luck in your home waters. That’s fishing with confidence. Confidence, the warmest water, and using your best baits- with these three tips you can take on unfamiliar lakes and experience the thrill of adding that lake to the list of water you own. Live THAT Passion!