Jump to content
trailer

What Do You Look For On A Topo Map?

Recommended Posts

When you guys get out your lake maps and look at the contour lines, what are you looking for? What makes you guys say to yourself "I've got to fish there!"?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The one constant I look for regardless of time of year is where the channel/deep water comes into contact with shallow water. Time of year will determine if that channel/deep water is up in a creek arm or down by the dam, and how close is a relative thing, but I always start there.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Creek channels near points or boatdocks, or were two creek channels meet.  Fish often move a long the creek channels, so any form of cover or structure near a creek channel tends to hold fish in my experiences.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I look for dropoffs into deep water as K_Mac stated.  These are indicated by lines that are very close together.  I also look for the following:

  1. Underwater fingers on points that drop off quickly.
  2. Humps that bass can find by following a path from a shallow feeding ground or spawning area.
  3. Ditches, drains, and holes that provide paths from shallow to deep water or that provide a holding area on structure.
  4. Underwater roads, bridges, bridge abuttments, and house foundations that again exist on or near structure providing a path from shallow to deepwater.
  5. Outside and inside bends on underwater channels.
  6. Deep channel banks that intersect or come close to the bank providing a quick path from shallow to deep water.
  7. Underwater channel intersections (some of the best pathways from deep water to spawning or shallow feeding areas).
  8. Anything underwater that can provide a holding area for bass and that also has a path to shallow feeding or spawning areas.

Find an area like the above with cover and you are hopefully in business.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

When I look at my topo maps I first note the time of year. From there I start looking at places that fit the migration pattern of bass for that particular season. I always note where contour lines run close together (indicating steep drop off's) that are close to shallow areas (pre-spawn through post-spawn these are key for me). I also find where creek channels run and also look for things like submerged road beds and old train tracks are as these usually hold bass.

Hope this helps!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Things like where a creek channel or ditch butts up against a point or a flat.  I look for any "intersections" and I look for anywhere where abrupt changes in depth occur.  then I look for what's around it.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

When I look at my topo maps I first note the time of year. From there I start looking at places that fit the migration pattern of bass for that particular season. I always note where contour lines run close together (indicating steep drop off's) that are close to shallow areas (pre-spawn through post-spawn these are key for me). I also find where creek channels run and also look for things like submerged road beds and old train tracks are as these usually hold bass.

Hope this helps!

This, and I also look for flats adjacent to drop offs.  They can be a key area for feeding and the deep water can hold fish almost anytime of year, especially if they're located on the north or east side of the lake.  On natural lakes or lakes with a good weed growth I'll look for weeds in those areas if it's indicated on the map. If not, many maps will indicate bottom composition and I'll make a note of the areas that should hold weeds.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Ill look for flats or points that relate to deep water fast. Also i look for offshore humps, mainly between 18-25 feet. Thats the smallies perferable depth around my area. If i can find a point or flat with good structure thats in 18-25ft water, then drops 10-15ft real fast, thats where i will fish. So look for points underwater that are sorrounded by deep water

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It depends on the type of lake or river. Natural lakes don't have dams or creek channels to speak of. Rivers are a channel. The terrain and use of a made made impoundment determines what type of resevervior it is and that determines what I look for.

Where I fish we have mostly highland water storage reservoirs that are very deep, clear water nd mostly rock structure. I will usually divide a reservoir into main lake and arms. The main lake I divide I to 3 parts; the lower 1/3rd where the dam is located, the middle 1/3rd and the upper end 1/3 rd. if the lake has long arms, I divide those where ever they divide into 2 arms.

Depending on the seasonal period, I am looking for specific features that should hold both prey and bass.

I rarely fish deeper than 40' so I don't waste a lot of time studing water deeper than that, other than to know how the deep water may attract prey or affect current.

I also don't waste much time looking at topo maps with elevations less than 5' preference 1' or 2' elevations if available.

Tom

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

What's a Topo Map?  :laugh5:

 

Many of the lakes I fish are small, maps isn't available.  Still man made, still have creek channels.  Just have to find them.  Countless times of fishing it, you'll find out where things are. 

 

I'm a cover fisherman.  Not so much a structure fisherman. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Topo maps are a great addition to where you want to locate some good places to fish, but they are not the only thing that should be included in your map studies, lots of really good info has already been given, so I would like to add by suggesting going to your local impoundment and looking for airel maps of the lake before it was a lake, lots of good info can be gathered from resources like these and talking to the locals about how to fish the lake, speaking with the local game and fisheries dept. can also be another valuable resource for study, the info they can give on bait fish stocked and aquatic plants and the over all health of different areas is important.

 

Most of the lakes I fish are man made impoundments, one being a Nuke Plant lake, as WRB stated about current, it too has a lot to do with how I fish a determined spot, especially when the Nuke Plant has all of their pumps running, the lake has a reverse flow on the lower 1/3. 

 

As for what I like to look for on maps are also channels that lead back for incoming fresh water supply, original creeks that feed the lake, then I usually work my way out from there looking for the same as others have posted. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Do any of you guys use Navionics Hot Maps Premium 2D lake map cards?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

You have gotten great advice from a lot of people on here. All the things listed are things I look for on a topo map. I would add this-- I use what I glean from that study to decide on an area of a lake to concentrate on for the day. I look for an area of the lake that I am CERTAIN has fish in it (the size of that area might be a few thousand acres) because it contains a variety of features that fish use throughout the year. Then I start at what I think is the most likely place in that area to contain a group of fish given the season and conditions. I limit my fishing to that area and force myself to figure the fish in that area out. I think a lot of guys mark 50 spots on a topo map and then spend most of their day running and leave little time for fishing.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

You have gotten great advice from a lot of people on here. All the things listed are things I look for on a topo map. I would add this-- I use what I glean from that study to decide on an area of a lake to concentrate on for the day. I look for an area of the lake that I am CERTAIN has fish in it (the size of that area might be a few thousand acres) because it contains a variety of features that fish use throughout the year. Then I start at what I think is the most likely place in that area to contain a group of fish given the season and conditions. I limit my fishing to that area and force myself to figure the fish in that area out. I think a lot of guys mark 50 spots on a topo map and then spend most of their day running and leave little time for fishing.

 

I agree that on a large body of water, esp one that is not familiar, concentrating on a given section of the water will save time and money. You can burn up a lot of both trying to find that perfect spot instead of taking the time to figure out where the fish are and what they want. Are they in clear water? stained? muddy? At what depth? Is current a factor? Tight to cover or relating to structure? Aggressively feeding or is more subtlety required? As you said, I've spent too many times running to a bunch of spots instead of making an informed decision and sticking to it.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I dont just use topo I use google earth and structure maps as well. Theres a lot of man made structure out there and you can find it on maps put out by the state most times. I can show you a topo map of a lake I fish and point to a spot and ask you whats there. Youll say... nothing, but I know theres 40+ vertical planks under that spot put there by the army corp

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

senile1 +1 ;)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

While I agree with The Senile post as it relates to classic deep structure high land ot hill land reservoirs, it is also common knowledge that is well documented and everyone who is on the water with a Navonics chip in their sonar unti has those areas pre wired today.

What I look for when studing a topo map with the features so clearly identified is isolated small holding or feeding areas within those obvious structures. The depth of productive isolated spots is dependant on seasonal factors. What I am looking at are tight lines that indicate a steep dropping structure with a wide spot between the lines that indicates a flat area about 10' to 20' wide. These small flat spots can indicate a saddle on the point ridge, a step zone on a steep break, that usually will have a few large rocks or some brush that established before the lake was folded.

Tom

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Just an fyi, you can do all of this on Angling Technologies Interactive mapper. You can set your waypoints at home and export them on an sd card then import to your units. They have digital overlays of topo's, noaa charts, shadowing, contours, weather, etc. This is how I prefish. Saves me a lot of gas.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

  • fishing

    fishing forum

    fishing rods

    fishing reels

    fishing

    bass fish

    fish for bass
    fish

×