Fishing Unfamiliar Lakes
By Dave Brummond
Many fisherman experience the frustration of fishing for bass in unfamiliar lakes. These times occur mostly in the winter when they are not able to catch bass on their lakes of choice. Here are a few tips, tricks and tactics to help you cope with the unfamiliar lake blues.
It is thought, and believed by many fisherman that confidence alone can catch a good stringer when times become tough. You should examine the water clarity, temperature and cloud cover, then pick a high percentage bait for the conditions facing you. This high percentage bait should not be a bait that you see Bill Dance or Roland Martin use to annihilate fish year round. It should be bait that has given you good experiences.
Search For Warm Water
It would be wise to find the warmest water in the lake by merely taking a boat ride around the perimeter of the lake. Look for a creek, shallow bay, or some sort of flat. Often times these locations will provide a temperature difference in your favor. Use your depth finder to locate a good drop off which may be holding several fish next to the warm water. Finding a likely ambush point is vital. In other words, find warm water, and then look for a drop off next to it.
The warm water will most likely be some sort of a shallow bar, ledge or flat. This offers the bass an easy option to deep water quickly, therefore making the fish feel more comfortable and safe. You now have confidence and the most likely place in the lake to catch a fish, warm water.
Many fisherman stress over which bait to use when the answer is fairly simple. Use the bait that you like to use. Do not get me wrong though, using a buzzbait in 32-degree water will only bore you and give you a sore arm. If the temperature is among the 30-40 degree mark, consider a jig & pig, worm, or even slow rolling a spinnerbait or cranking a crankbait over deep structure. If the water is in the 40-50 degree range, you can use the same methods except you could try a Rat-L-Trap, some topwaters, burning spinnerbaits, jerkbaits...you get the idea.
The main thing is to use a bait you feel you will be most interested in using. If you decide to opt for a bait you saw Kevin VanDam catch a five pounder on in the snow during some iceberg tournament ten states away and you have never used it before, you may become bored. Use a bait that you have had good luck with, it'll keep you entertained, who knows, you just might get a bite.
Now you have confidence, the warmest water, and you are using the best bait possible for you. These three tips can improve your unfamiliar lake experience a lot. It will probably encourage you to stay out there longer too.