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I was reflecting on how my approach to bass fishing has changed over the last several years and how it has increased my success rate. I thought maybe I would post it and someone else might benefit.

Over the last 30 plus years I found myself being driven more by technique. Techniques and equipment seemed to be the focus and they were evolving at a pretty rapid rate. Flipping, pitching, jigs, deep cranking, drop shot, finesse, frogs, long rods and so on. I also like the "stuff."

The techniques I enjoyed the most seemed to dictate the water and cover types I fished. I found myself become a " spot " fisherman and returned to the same spots and found myself force feeding the lure type and techniques I enjoyed the most. I was able to fish frequently during that period so my success rate was acceptable. I had become a narrow focused angler and created a rut for myself.

About six years ago I changed my approach. I had to. It was not because I was intelligent or had some special insite. I started fishing with a guy I've known for years and he showed me something simple that changed my perspective. Look for ZONES. The application is kind of like pattern fishing but we don't have the huge bodies of water to truly apply pattern fishing so zone fishing is what we attempt to do.

Honestly, smallmouth fishing drove me to appreciate the zone concept. I read the recent thread on SEARCH BAITS and noticed there was a trend of shallow baits. I thought, that's exactly what I used to focus on. What if the fish are not in a shallow zone? Your searching may lead you to move to a new area, still shallow and the zone where the fish are has not been searched.

My approach is now to find the zone, then area and then refine it to spots if they exist. The seasonal pattern dicated what zone I started on, shallow, mid depth or deep. Then I looked for zones with specific characteristics such as cover types, contours, structure or lack there of and so on. Then I would start my search to establish a zone and focus the technique that most effectively covered that zone and refine it further if a spot within the area within the zone was discovered. I quit searching spots and began to search zones. This became more effective way to locate fish, select and apply a technique and lure type.

This is nothing new. Successful anglers have applied this practice for years. I just needed to learn it for myself. I don't get the opportunity to fish near as often as I used to so this concept has really paid off. This is an example. I fished the end of a small resavoir a few years ago. I looked for the zone and found a long creek. I searched the shallow zone within the creek which was a zone within that end of the lake. I caught some fish shallow but the bite slowed. The fish I found searching the shallow zone was a false positive. I came back the following day and again caught a few fish shallow as I searched the one mile of creek that held fish. The bite slowed. I backed way out and began to search the deep zone within that one mile and found the real population of fish. As I continued to fish that zone I found there were saddles within the contour and the fish seemed to hold in the saddles. I found some stumps within the saddles. They were the spots that held the larger bass. Then I refined it further with a bait choice and even further with the type of retrieve. IT wasn't the fish that made it one of the best days I have ever had, it was the process that got me on them.

I will not take credit for my learning this. It took someone to get me to open my eyes and continue to learn. I hope this helps someone. If it does, let me know, I will tell my buddy who shared it with me.

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Great insight & a good read. Thanks for sharing.

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....................Over the last 30 plus years I found myself being driven more by technique. Techniques and equipment seemed to be the focus and they were evolving at a pretty rapid rate. Flipping, pitching, jigs, deep cranking, drop shot, finesse, frogs, long rods and so on. I also like the "stuff."................

I really enjoyed reading this post, It's like you were in my mind.

I have been trying to break what I thought of as bad habits that were unproductive, working only what I could see, wooded shoreline, grass lines, etc. I was doing what I saw all the other anglers doing, and with the fishing pressure on the river from tournaments, bites could be hard to come by; and then there's the "where did they go" syndrome.

I needed a new approach, talking to other anglers wasn't working - they were doing the same as I was; I felt I needed to get out of line and try a new path, but what?, I had no idea.

Then I stumbled on an old booklet at of all places an "Antique Show" my wife drug me to. It was by some guy named Buck Perry. He basically was selling a lure, but in the process he was teaching what you're calling the Zone System (which I think is a good name for it) he started by working the shore line from point "A" to point "B", then back off and work "B" to "A" a little further off shore, and then ":A" to "B" still a little further off shore, and so on until you get to the deepest water in the area. I think he called it screening the area.

I think it's working for me, BUT, my problem it sticking to the plan; I seam to want to gravitate back to "spot fishing" far too easily. So it's a work in progress. I cover more area, faster, and may or may not find the fish, then move to the next area. Weather, light intensity and angle are the biggest players in where I'm finding what fish I find.

Question: What's your go-to lure for each Zone, i.e. Shallow, Mid-depth, Deep?

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For shallow, 1-5 feet I almost always start with a spinnerbait. It covers water effectively and works open water and heavy cover well. A shallow crankbait like a Speed Trap also comes into play. Mid-depth, 6 to12 feet, a crankbait, Normans Deep Little N or Rapala DT10. If the water is clear and smallies are the target, a jerkbait covers water pretty fast. For deeper water a DD22 or football jig. The jig is slower to cover water but a heavy one can move along pretty quick.

Once a get a bite or better, two, I look at how the fish ate the lure or missed it, the color of the fish, the depth it was at and did it spit up bait. If they bite the searchbait well, I will stick with it and look at maybe changing presentation, color but not for very long. I will try and apply a technique that is slower or more finesse after a couple of bites. This really works well for me when smallies are the target.

I once found a school of deeper smallies with the crankbait but they were small. I slowed down for a second and dragged a hula grub and wacked them. I agree with you about wanting to gravitate back to spots. If you have a short day, that may work but if you can, discipline yourself and give this a chance. I have gone for long spells without a bite but when you find them, the rewards can be awsome.

Good fishing !!!!

Doug

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Excellent post CATRESOURCE. I made a committment a long time ago to "learn" something on every fishing trip - I am not always disciplined enough to do this, but I try. That has helped me tremendously over the years.

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...................

I agree with you about wanting to gravitate back to spots. If you have a short day, that may work but if you can, discipline yourself and give this a chance. I have gone for long spells without a bite but when you find them, the rewards can be awesome.

Good fishing !!!!

Doug

Discipline is by far the hardest tool to master in fishing, I'm still working on that but I start second guessing myself; I'll see cover or structure that looks fishy and get distracted.

I'll start with search baits, Spinnerbaits, cranks, swim, little buddy's, etc; working parallel to the bank, from shallow to deep water; but when I come across a bank area that looks good I'll spend most of my time working pockets in the weed, or wood, and I think that's where I start to fail with following the plan.

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Awesome Post!! Where can I learn more on zone fishing to help me more with finding the fish instead of just hitting all the spots I caught them 5 years ago. If i had a sort of checklist or procedure to start the day with maybe I could stay on track in locating instead of giving up and trying the old spots.(That don't seem to be producing quite as well as I remembered in the past)

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I have been doing the same thing for ever. All I do is "zone fish". The only time I search for fish is when I am getting nothing. Then I will throw a crank bait on to try and find where the zone is. I call it "the danger zone" lol. These zones change with vegetation, water clarity, and water height.

I have a knack for having high insight into where fish are. But experience has gotten me there.

It's amazing where the hot spots are and you must focus on them correctly.

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Awesome Post!! Where can I learn more on zone fishing to help me more with finding the fish instead of just hitting all the spots I caught them 5 years ago. If i had a sort of checklist or procedure to start the day with maybe I could stay on track in locating instead of giving up and trying the old spots.(That don't seem to be producing quite as well as I remembered in the past)

Search the web for "Buck Perry", or "Spoonpluging"; even though he passed on years ago they still keep his web site up. Buck wrote some books, but he was before electronics & Bass TV - very old school; I consider myself a student of his.

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Search the web for "Buck Perry", or "Spoonpluging"; even though he passed on years ago they still keep his web site up. Buck wrote some books, but he was before electronics & Bass TV - very old school; I consider myself a student of his.

Thanks for the direction. I don't mind old school, if anything it's easier to focus on and besides I don't have the money for electronics anyway :Victory:

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Flippen, your "zones" seems to parallel my finding the "pattern" when fishing.

I go to some promising places on the body of water and throw topwater, DT 4's, and plastics to try to find the pattern.

So how does your "zones" differ from my "pattern"????

Thanks for the input.

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good post. I think that is one of the reasons fishing can be so compelling. Fish, learn, and figure things out.

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Flippen, your "zones" seems to parallel my finding the "pattern" when fishing.

I go to some promising places on the body of water and throw topwater, DT 4's, and plastics to try to find the pattern.

So how does your "zones" differ from my "pattern"????

Thanks for the input.

Here's the context of my post. The basis of pattern fishing is, once you determine what bass are doing in one specific are (zone) of a body of water, you should be able to locate similar locations and find the bass doing the same or similar thing. Pattern fishing, as Roland Martin defined it applies perfectly to large bodies of water. The average angler does not fish a three or four day tournament on a body of water with multiple creeks or pools to lock to. When I fish a managable body of water with a full single day to figure them out, I look for the zone in that managable area. I don't consider that a pattern. At least yet.To me, a pattern is something that can be replicated. If you find that zone and the technique/lures that are most effective you might very well replicate what the fish are doing and then, I believe, you have a pattern. My concept of looking for zones was to break my habit of spot fishing and being more open minded as to how to search for fish effectively. I'm not trying to split hairs Sam. I just call it zone fishing and it has been effective for me. If I understand your concept of pattern fishing, it makes sense. If I go into a huge creek arm and find a section or zone of pads and find the fish on the edges and hitting buzzbaits, I would want to fish other pad fields in the creek, throwing buzzbaits at the edges. If the fish respond, I have a pattern. It starts with searching and not getting caught up in spots. Like I said, I was in a rut, not being more open minded to believing fish might just be somewhere else than my old spots and maximizing my attempt to find catchable fish. Great dialogue.Doug

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I really enjoyed reading this post, It's like you were in my mind.

I have been trying to break what I thought of as bad habits that were unproductive, working only what I could see, wooded shoreline, grass lines, etc. I was doing what I saw all the other anglers doing, and with the fishing pressure on the river from tournaments, bites could be hard to come by; and then there's the "where did they go" syndrome.

I needed a new approach, talking to other anglers wasn't working - they were doing the same as I was; I felt I needed to get out of line and try a new path, but what?, I had no idea.

Then I stumbled on an old booklet at of all places an "Antique Show" my wife drug me to. It was by some guy named Buck Perry. He basically was selling a lure, but in the process he was teaching what you're calling the Zone System (which I think is a good name for it) he started by working the shore line from point "A" to point "B", then back off and work "B" to "A" a little further off shore, and then ":A" to "B" still a little further off shore, and so on until you get to the deepest water in the area. I think he called it screening the area.

I think it's working for me, BUT, my problem it sticking to the plan; I seam to want to gravitate back to "spot fishing" far too easily. So it's a work in progress. I cover more area, faster, and may or may not find the fish, then move to the next area. Weather, light intensity and angle are the biggest players in where I'm finding what fish I find.

Question: What's your go-to lure for each Zone, i.e. Shallow, Mid-depth, Deep?

This is a great topic, enjoyed reading it alot. Nothing wrong with studing the "old schoolers" either. This video is for you Traveler...

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Truly great post flippin and pitchin !!!

Far too often I have seen guys and gals at my favorite lake come up empty handed, while it is a great fishery it can be tough.

As the seasons change, so must your habits, far too often we tend to wanna stick way to close to shore lines and fish the great looking cover, while all the time thinking...man there has just got to be some big fish around here.

While beating the banks early in the morning can and will produce some really good information, it tends to lull us into a false sence of thinking the fish are going to be there all day.

I was that way when I fished Anna here in Va. some 20 years ago, it took me 5 years to convince myself to look harder.

So 15 years ago I started a log, that log turned into a journal, which I think is now a book, lol, the season and water temps now drive the way I fish that lake, I think you can call it whatever you like, and zoneing an area is a pretty dang good description of what we need to do more often to find the links that we so often miss out on.

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Thank you for the post, I've been trying to get myself away from the bank for quite some time now and only recently have I begun to finally win that battle against myself.

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It appears I'm not the only one going, or gone, through this Visible Structure Magnetism Syndrome. It's good to know I'm not the only one, misery loves company......

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Holy crap! This might just be the biggest thing I needed to hear but didn't know it. With my small lake (and no boats allowed dang it), I've been trying to find areas that "look good" based on what I've seen or heard from others. Finding a pattern is well and good, but if you're like me and only catching 1-3 bass in 5 hour or so period and those 1-3 are spread all over the lake, there's no way to figure out a pattern. Yet, if I can break them down into zones and work those zones (as much as allowed here). If technique A works in other similar zones then I can derive a pattern.

The Zone System should work for bank fishing as well. Even bank fishing I tend to start in the shallow areas or areas of cover that should hold bass. Thanks to people on this website I've been trying different lures, but for a while I was using soft plastics (generally a black trick worm or any color lizard). They work, but with the exception of spawning period, I've really been fishing a hit and miss. On my good days I would cast to about 4 or 5 places in an 180 degree fan and then move on. Or, on my off days (health wise) I would sit in one spot for a while but cast to the same spots over and over again.

The only true zone or even pattern that I got good at was during spawning (pre, during, and post). I knew where the males were guarding the beds and I was able to take that all over the lake. However, I was missing out on the female bass and maybe even some male bass that may have been further out than what I thought they'd be. The hardest thing for me is to have a game plan rather than "I'll just cast until I get something" syndrome.

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