Jump to content
reelnmn

More On Structure...

Recommended Posts

First, let me say thank you to the members who have contributed to the structure threads.  They are some great reads and provide a great deal of insight to the greatest obstacle in fishing - locating bass.

 

What has been discussed mainly pertains to lowland reservoirs.  I do not have access to any of Buck Perry's material so I would like to spark discussion regarding highland reservoirs.  The article posted http://www.bassresource.com/bass-fishing-forums/topic/149344-alright-deep-lets-talk-structure/ shows highland reservoirs contain steep bluff walls where the majority of fish have readily available access to deep water.

 

In my opinion access to deep water nearly becomes irrevelant since nearly each location meets this criteria.  What then becomes the emphasis in eliminating water?  I would think breaks and breaklines become more and more important.  However, most highland reservoirs I have fish have miles and miles of boulders to fish.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'll offer a response. I grew up fishing in Arkansas and Misouri, Beaver Lake to be exact. Not sure what your thoughts are on highland reservoirs but my idea of them is steep drop offs, bluff walls, and deep water. Beaver Lake has all of this.

What sticks in my mind about fishing places like this is don't get hung up on the deep water, just because the water is 100ft deep don't mean that you have to fish in 40-50ft of water. Lots of the fish will be much shallower 20-25ft of water. The bass on these lakes follow the same or similar seasonal migrations as other lakes and reservoirs. In the spring the Pre-Spawn bass will be looking to move out of deeper water and on to shallower spawning type structure. Your first contact with these fish will be on the drop off break line that has direct access to shallower bars, or drop offs that have breaks leading to shallower bars. Look for different structure big chunck rock to pea gravel, or even shallow water shelves that are flat and have smaller scattered rock. In the spring the big girls are looking for safe, shallower areas out of the wind with hard bottoms to do their thing. I am sure your lake has many places like this.

  • Like 6

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I follow an unwritten premise I call the "Priority of Poverty".

Before you begin any chart survey, always take in the Big Picture.

A lake that consists predominantly of shallow water, say between 0 & 8-ft deep,

obviously requires no search for food-shelves because the whole lake is a foodshelf.

As a result, the offsite survey should begin with a search for 'deep water'.

In lakes that consist predominantly of deep water, such as highland reservoirs, canyon reservoirs, pit mines

and cavernous natural lakes; shallow water is Gold and that's where I'd begin my search (poverty takes priority)

 

Roger

  • Like 9

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

On my first outing to one of the TVA lakes, what RoLo  says was a lesson I learned, or should I say reminded of. We fished a bluff wall with a shallow shelf. I would have been searching for fish suspended off the edge of the drop, but we found active fish on that shelf that wasn't much wider that the boat in some places. It was a lesson I had learned years ago fishing the strip pits in my area with similar features. I just hadn't fished them in decades, so the lesson was forgotten.  The basic principles of using structure to locate fish still applies, I just didn't take my own advice and apply it to the water I was on.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Great observations gentlemen.  My experience has been very similar but also different.  This past spring I chose to fish an area that was textbook perfect.  Shallow water flat extending from 2-8'.  A nice breakline at 8-12' extending down to 12'-20' with an old creek weaving through the middle.  This is the only flat with any substantial size on the entire lake.  Smallmouth were in prespawn/spawn and I just knew the bigger females would stack on that ledge.  Never happened though.  The fish were related to the more typical structure they relate to all year - offshore humps/points in 25-40'.  These are smallmouths so this could be the reason...and water clarity suggests these fish could spawn in 12-15' so that could be another factor.

 

It seems like the consensus to structure fishing is finding the difference or as RoLo mentioned Priority of Poverty.  An area that would give fish an advantage over prey and concentrate these predators into a fishable/managable area.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Structure fishing aint just about "deep" or "shallow" water...it's about what connects the two!

In bodies if water like highland lakes there is plenty of deep water, so the emphasis is placed on shallow water & the structure that connects it to the deep water.

Some times bass attain their desired "shallow water depth" by simply suspending at that depth over deep water structure.

  • Like 5

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Structure fishing aint just about "deep" or "shallow" water...it's about what connects the two!

In bodies if water like highland lakes there is plenty of deep water, so the emphasis is placed on shallow water & the structure that connects it to the deep water.

Some times bass attain their desired "shallow water depth" by simply suspending at that depth over deep water structure.

This is dead on. I studied John Hope's tracking studies last winter. His findings were that big bass feed in the shallows (kitchen) in low light and suspend over deeper water (bedroom) during most of the day. By sitting on these funnels that connect the two for an hour or so at dawn and dusk you can intercept. The fish fed all night in the study.

I put this into practice and had, by far, my best year last year for bigger fish including a PB for my home lake.

The one thing I noticed, the type of lures didn't seem to matter. The biggest was on a jig but slow rolling spinnerbaits was a close second.

Good thread!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Re: foodshelf

 

We have to talk about forage if we want to talk about feeding depths (shallows). In any lake, you have all different kinds of (fishy) forage.

 

Shore minnows, small fish relating to supershallow water(usually).

 

You have slightly larger demersal baitfish (small bass, bluegills), which also seem to relate to cover most of the time, in what I'd consider shallow water. They are eating the tiny minnows, but they are also trying to not get eaten by the bigger bass.

 

Then there's shad- of which I have little firsthand experience. But they migrate to the shallows for the night?

 

Finally, and here's my favorite forage, the trouts. Water temp and light seem to affect them, a lot.

 

I guess my point is different forage species hang out in different places during different times of the day.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

OP, have you studied Bill Murphy's book? SoCal reservoirs are hundreds of feet deep (near the dam at least). Yet, he places the utmost importance on deep water. Not just deep water, but the deepest in the area. Breaklines are structures. As noted above, the path from the deepest water to the feeding grounds (may or may not be the "shallows", and the two might be very close) is important.

 

Buck Perry defines "breaks" as items on or in the bottom such as rocks, stumps, bushes, etc. I don't like clumping these items together. Rock is "structure"; stumps and bushes are cover. I like to look at a reservoir map after removing these. Sure, I have caught fish from "breaks", big ones too. But these were on or near the really important structures (including breaklines).

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

One thing I have not heard mentioned in these discussions is the thermocline and the importance it has in the elimination of unproductive, or less productive water.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Good points all. One quick clarification or reminder on John Hope's book and tracking. He found and labeled three different types of bass;

 

shallow fish - which never went deep or suspended,

mid-layer fish - which suspended when inactive and moved to breaklines and depth contours when active;

and deep fish that never went shallow (except to spawn).

 

His book focused almost solely on the behavior of these mid-layer fish, which he felt was the more overlooked or misunderstood population of bass. 

 

deep: what is your reasoning for classifying rock as structure? Do you have any delineation based on size of rock? Just curious. I've never considered rock as structure - I always group it as cover, though I did once find an article that Buck referred to it as  "structure-like" when in the form of a rock reef on a natural lake.

 

aavery2: thermoclines are breaklines. In some lakes (2-story lakes) there is enough oxygen below them to support a whole other group of fish (like lake trout, cisco, etc.), but in many of the waters from the Midwest south, the thermocline and the oxycline tend to be one and the same. In those cases, your point is an important one, as you simply won't have fish living for any length of time below a thermocline where oxygen isn't present in sufficient amounts to support life. In those cases, the thermocline becomes the limiting "deep water" barrier, and many fish will stack up on this breakline as the deepest water they can attain. In those cases, you can simply eliminate anything deeper water wise, though you have to be very careful and studious in examining your water for this phenomenon. Something as simple as a low water relief outlet at the dam can often create enough current or movement of water to disrupt a traditional thermocline. Things can get weird quick on some waters.

 

Since it was mentioned by the OP, and I having access to most all of Buck's material, I'll post another reservoir piece concerning highland lakes (and smallmouth) as a matter of discussion. It also ties in nicely with several of the points already mentioned. Again, I tried to load the full document first, as well as all the "parts" separately but in a single post, and in both cases the forum restrictions didn't allow this. As such, this will be 4 parts in 4 posts to accomplish.

 

- Sorry for this -

 

-T9

 

Here's the first part.

 

Highland_Reservoirs_1.pdf

  • Like 4

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

 

deep: what is your reasoning for classifying rock as structure? Do you have any delineation based on size of rock? Just curious. I've never considered rock as structure - I always group it as cover, though I did once find an article that Buck referred to it as  "structure-like" when in the form of a rock reef on a natural lake.

 

 

 

 

Because Tom (WRB) told me to? I think that's a good answer. :D

 

The practical reason is I frequently see laydowns, even big ones, being displaced by flood water. The laydown in the pic below is over 30 ft long (you can only see part of it in the photo). We got a little rain, water level rose, and it's not there any more. I can't find it.

 

Rocks, of any significant size, seem to hold their places all right.

 

I do agree when I'm fishing, I tend to think of isolated individual boulders like a clump of brush.

 

When you string a bunch of rocks together of course, it becomes a significant structure, and must be treated similar to any other hard breakline.

 

SDC13533-1.jpg

 

 

Regarding the mid-layer fish, Tom posted this elsewhere. I hope you find this interesting.

 

*****

Every deep structured clear water bass lake has a population of suspended bass in the main lake basin. This group of bass are rarely caught and are usually the biggest bass in the lake. These big bass can be caught, especially during pre spawn when they stage in about 20' of water off main lake points the are near spawning migration areas.
 
These bass can be anywhere from 20' from structure or 100' away suspended in about 20' of water. So if you approach a point and stop out about 120' away, a safe distance so you don't disturb these bass by parking on top of them. To get their attention a surface swimbait or a wake bait like a 10" Triple Trout or big wooden Lunker Plunker can be cast even with the point end about 60' out in front. Let the lure land and sit there for about 2 minutes, this give the bass enough time to investigate what made the disturbance. Now twitch the lure and let rest again a few seconds. If nothing happens, start a erractic retrieve and watch for any followers and be prepared for a strike. make several cast around the point before moving on to the next major point.
Tom

*****

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Good points all. One quick clarification or reminder on John Hope's book and tracking. He found and labeled three different types of bass;

 

shallow fish - which never went deep or suspended,

mid-layer fish - which suspended when inactive and moved to breaklines and depth contours when active;

and deep fish that never went shallow (except to spawn).

 

His book focused almost solely on the behavior of these mid-layer fish, which he felt was the more overlooked or misunderstood population of bass. 

 

deep: what is your reasoning for classifying rock as structure? Do you have any delineation based on size of rock? Just curious. I've never considered rock as structure - I always group it as cover, though I did once find an article that Buck referred to it as  "structure-like" when in the form of a rock reef on a natural lake.

 

aavery2: thermoclines are breaklines. In some lakes (2-story lakes) there is enough oxygen below them to support a whole other group of fish (like lake trout, cisco, etc.), but in many of the waters from the Midwest south, the thermocline and the oxycline tend to be one and the same. In those cases, your point is an important one, as you simply won't have fish living for any length of time below a thermocline where oxygen isn't present in sufficient amounts to support life. In those cases, the thermocline becomes the limiting "deep water" barrier, and many fish will stack up on this breakline as the deepest water they can attain. In those cases, you can simply eliminate anything deeper water wise, though you have to be very careful and studious in examining your water for this phenomenon. Something as simple as a low water relief outlet at the dam can often create enough current or movement of water to disrupt a traditional thermocline. Things can get weird quick on some waters.

 

Since it was mentioned by the OP, and I having access to most all of Buck's material, I'll post another reservoir piece concerning highland lakes (and smallmouth) as a matter of discussion. It also ties in nicely with several of the points already mentioned. Again, I tried to load the full document first, as well as all the "parts" separately but in a single post, and in both cases the forum restrictions didn't allow this. As such, this will be 4 parts in 4 posts to accomplish.

 

- Sorry for this -

 

-T9

 

Here's the first part.

 

attachicon.gifHighland_Reservoirs_1.pdf

 

It's pretty cool that you have access to these articles.  A few years ago, I purchased the Buck Perry 9 book guideline materials and they have been extremely useful.  Some of the information is outdated, but the structural analysis is still worth its weight in gold (or I should say bass).  I study the guides every winter when we hit the deep freeze, as well as referring to them now and then during the rest of the year to make comparisons to lake maps I am studying.

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

This is a bit off topic, but something I feel that needs to be pointed out is location of fish on structure. The majority of these discussions seem to focus on different types, or location of it in different types of lakes.

One thing that Murphy, Perry and Hope all point out is the movement of bass from deeper water to the shallows or feeding grounds and the importance of structure to those movements. Mr. Perry referred to those movements as migration routes although the term more accurately is a description is seasonal movements. Dining room to living room, or however you care to describe that movement, keep in mind that the bass' objective is to get to that feeding site.

Their location, along with their activity level, at any given time could be anywhere along that route or path. As anglers, we use the information about structure to give us a place to start our search because we know the fish will use it in their movements.

The key, I believe, is knowing that the stops the bass make along the way will be the areas of concentrations of fish and the closer to the 'dining room' the more active those groups will be. A typical milk run for me will start at the feeding shelf or area where I target active fish, then work my way down the structure or 'funnel' stopping at the breaks along the way until I contact fish.

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

@Team9nine. Thanks for the articles.

@ deep. Bill Murphy's book is a great read. But the majority of my lakes have access to 100+ feet of water in multiple regions of the lake. I have drop shotted with success out to 70' and do not have a desire to go any further. It's just too much risk to the fish even when taking precautions.  I also agree that when talking structure fishing you must consider forage.

 

My next question would be how are feeding grounds located and what defines them?  Does consistent forage in a given area constitute a feeding area?  For instance, a main lake point extends out then drops into the deepest water in the area. (Fig 2 on Team9nine’s other Buck Perry article in the other thread)  9 times out of 10 I would start searching/fishing at that drop on the end.  Then begin working towards either corner depending on which offered the better breakline.  My instinct says the “feeding grounds” would be on top of the point.  Fish would then tend to follow a logical path from the deep sanctuary to the feeding ground following either the bar’s breakline (depth) or breaks (stumps, rock piles, etc) along the way?

 

Of course as Catt mentioned the fish could be suspended over the deep water area.  How would this change effect migration towards feeding grounds?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

 

@ deep. Bill Murphy's book is a great read. But the majority of my lakes have access to 100+ feet of water in multiple regions of the lake. I have drop shotted with success out to 70' and do not have a desire to go any further. It's just too much risk to the fish even when taking precautions.  I also agree that when talking structure fishing you must consider forage.

 

 

I didn't tell you to fish on the bottom in 100 FOW. I said that the deepest water in the area is the important deal when looking at shallower structures. Personally, I don't fish much deeper than 30FOW (on the bottom) for the same reasons- and also because I've had only little success when I tried it.

 

Also, Tom says you might want to divide up your reservoir into thirds, and then look at an individual section, depending on the season. I'd pick one region of the lake, the number of regions depending on how big your lake is, locate the deepest channels/ depressions, identify the structures associated with them, and fish the latter ones.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

What! Tom can't post for himself! ;)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm sure he would have put it more eloquently than I did. I believe he just retired last month and is out fishing, unlike the rest of us. Prime pre-spawn time in SoCal.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

 

My next question would be how are feeding grounds located and what defines them?  Does consistent forage in a given area constitute a feeding area?  For instance, a main lake point extends out then drops into the deepest water in the area. (Fig 2 on Team9nine’s other Buck Perry article in the other thread)  9 times out of 10 I would start searching/fishing at that drop on the end.  Then begin working towards either corner depending on which offered the better breakline.  My instinct says the “feeding grounds” would be on top of the point.  Fish would then tend to follow a logical path from the deep sanctuary to the feeding ground following either the bar’s breakline (depth) or breaks (stumps, rock piles, etc) along the way?

 

Of course as Catt mentioned the fish could be suspended over the deep water area.  How would this change effect migration towards feeding grounds?

 

Perhaps the million dollar question. This is the beauty of Perry's system, because it doesn't really matter how or why as relates to putting a fish in the boat. To a fish that might live in 20' of water or less year round, his feeding ground is going to be a totally different place (looks, location, etc) than the feeding ground of those fish you are catching (or can catch) in 70' of water. They're not coming up 60' to feed on some nice lush flat. Throw in your suspended fish and where they move to and how far, and things get complicated quick. The simplest answer is that it doesn't matter if you are using structure as your guide, and then fish in a systematic way around that structure (break, breaklines, deep water, etc.), at least until you determine some things out for that particular waterbody, or even that particular structure. Then you can "skip" some stuff, if you choose. This is also the reason for the "guideline" to always start fishing shallow and then keep working deeper, as deep as you need to go, until you contact fish. Where you start getting bit is part of that particular fishes feeding ground, regardless of depth or make up.

 

-T9

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

So let me see if I understand y'all!

Y'all are perfectly willing to run over any bass not holding in shallow water in order to get to shallow water when the bass may or may not be shallow.

Interesting concept!

I think I'll stick with fishing my way from deep to shallow & not spook anything!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Reelnm

The feeding area depends on the major forage the bass are targeting. In the example you described it would be different for shad than for, say minnows or bluegill. If you consider the forage, the route or structure the bass use can be different as well as where the 'dining room' is located on the point.

Structure fishing, although it may sound difficult, is no harder to understand than considering which docks will be most productive along a shoreline of hundreds. You are basically using a simple, fundamental fact that is the basis of structure fishing. The main difference is structure fishing is more relevant to bass that use deep water as their 'home' or area of rest and travel to an area to feed and less to those that stay in the shallows even when they aren't feeding.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
T9 makes an excellent point.
 

You can choose to accept or dismiss Perry's assumptions about how and where the fish live and move. But the beauty of his system, as far as it's actual implementation is concerned, lies in the methodical manner in which the highest percentage spots are found and fished. Behind all of it's diagrams and scenarios that emphasize interpretation, at it's heart, It's really a technical system that focuses on the how-to.

It can be easy to start over thinking all the data when you're out on the water; Clines, forage, fish suspension, water and weather conditions, etc. All of these things factor in to the whole to be sure. But if you start by just focusing on identifying the prime structures, and finding and fishing all of the breaks on them between shallow and deep, and do it in a systematic way, you'll be way ahead of the game. All the other stuff is fine tuning which you should only expect to dial-in over repeated visits to the location or with time on the water in general.

 
The Spoonplugging system in general, encourages you to stop trying to over-analyze and out-think the fish when you're on the water and just follow the "guidelines" that will, in time, lead you to the right spots and to the fish. Doing so develops your skills, your confidence, and your intuition. Whether you choose to adhere to it in the strictest sense like some of the puritans or to adapt it's guidelines to suit your style or inclinations is up to you in the end.

Without a system of some sort though, to lead you to, and put you on the high percentage spots, you'll most likely end up constantly second-guessing yourself and wandering around. You'd probably be better off just following the shoreline and throwing your lures at all the same visible cover everyone else does.
 
~Denny
  • Like 2

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

×