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Soft Breaklines

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Since we've been talking a bunch about hard structure (distinguishable features that are part of the bottom) and breaklines lately, what do y'all think about things like color breaks (creek bringing in muddy water), light breaks (shadow lines), oxygen breaks (thermoclines)?

 

These are not part of the bottom usually, however, they are still breaklines- that might change from day to day, or even from hour to hour.

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In several of my home waters, the thermocline is king.  It can really be a huge help when it comes to finding fish.  Here the "best spots" are where the thermocline meets with a funneling type structure which has hard cover on or along it in at least 2 or 3 spots.  It's especially reliable if the cover leads all the way to shore .   And it get's even better if there a creek emptying out right at the shore.

 

 The grade / incline of the structure plays a role that can be seasonal as well.  Sometimes a steeper grade or incline on this structure is good, other times a more gradual slope works.  Flat has never been good. 

 

 Very often bass here will suspend out in open water just above the thermocline.   Then simply swim right along (over) it to meet with whatever the structure & or cover is that's holding the bait they'e looking for.  Other times this cover doesn't hold the bass per se but it provides an ambush spot for when the bait comes by. That's why a funneling type deal seems to be magic. 

 

 The thermocline generally sets up at similar depths each season but some years it's a little different one way or the other so it pays to know your water.  Something can be very bad one year and quite awesome the next.  Of course, I could never say for certain if the thermocline was the primary reason, but when I do, it makes me feel like I have a clue. 

 

One of  my golden rules is to stay as far away from the "route" as possible while still being able to make a proper presentation to my target(s).  This appears to less critical at night.  I like that.  I need all the help I can get.

 

 

 

A-Jay

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A lake I frequent is really tough now days. 25 years ago it was a fantastic fishery. A lot of days I start fishing at the thermocline , which is  usually around 20 foot , and work my way shallower.

 

Some days I can pick up a few fish at the line where chunk rock turns into smaller rocks.

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It seems reasonable to me to assume that these 'soft breaks' factor in to the positioning of the fish around the 'harder' breaks. I don't think I would be sold on the idea that a shadow edge alone would bring fish across a large flat though. 

 

This is really an area where I have plenty of room for improvement. I can factor in the depth of a thermocline ok and fish that depth on real structure, or I might find a  windblown shorelines where the water has churned up mud close to shore and I'll fish the outside of it like I would a weedline if that shoreline already seemed promising. Shadows really do throw me though; trying to estimate how they might be moving or exactly where the 'line' might be under water drives me crazy. Even more so at night when I'm trying to find shadows thrown by the moon. I'm TERRIBLE at that.

 

Either way though I'm always going to treat these 'soft breaks' only as enhancement or secondary to the structure of the bottom itself and the cover objects on that structure. I just doubt that a transient breakline is ever going to be chosen over a more permanent one when it comes to movement routes. Unless possibly the fish have been conditioned to it by recurrence. If a wash off a hill spills discolored water into an area every time it rains, and it brings and attracts forage, then I can see fish getting conditioned to move up a regular route then move off and follow the line of discolored water to the food whenever they see it.

 

~Denny

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This is the stuff I have studied for the last several years. There are four parts to this presentation. These concepts have made a huge difference in my results.

 

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I watched all four of those. There was some interesting information there buried in between the stories about what a fantastic angler Bill Siemantel is and the admonishments to open my mind... Actually the bits about the shadow lines positioning fish was very tantalizing and I'd be interested in hearing or reading more regarding this. I might possibly have had my mind blown just a tiny bit too with that bit about using the shadow of a lure to re-position a fish into a catchable position on a subsequent cast.

 

I've seen his Big Bass Zone book before and considered purchasing it but the reviews always seem to talk me out of it. It sounds like it's a whole lotta menu and not so much meat and potatoes. I see they have an ebook version now that much more reasonably priced at $25. Maybe I'll spring for it and see if I can pan some nuggets out of it.

 

Thanks for posting that.

~Denny

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Bill's book talks about a lot of little things I haven't seen elsewhere. As I'm sure you know, details matter.

 

He is a very good teacher, no matter what else he might or might not have done.

 

Catching bass of shadow lines definitely work. I know because I've done it.

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When you look to guys like Bill Siemantel, Bill Murphy or Buck Perry  who have extra ordinary success, there is one common denominator that always shows up. They all talk structure.  However I think Bill Siemantel brings some new concepts to the table. With the technology in graphs and what the big swimbaits have visibly exposed in clear water I think things have changed. I personally think his book is gold. What people tend to want is a magic bullet. They don't want to put in the time to learn and think for themselves. This is the reason the tackle companies make so much money based on the hot new color or the bait that won the classic. What Bills book provides are the systems to break down the water column and structure. It teaches you how to select the proper tool for the job and encourages outside the box thinking. 

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I agree with the Soft breaks on hard breaks concept.  There is a hump big smallmouth use here in a very discreet location.  Early in the morning, the sun comes up over a point about 100 yards from this hump and casts a shadow over the face of the hump.  The shadow line exists for only about 10-15 minutes but it is fish after fish during that window.  I've tried extrapolating elsewhere but haven't found anything close to this area.

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Could you position your boat to cast a shadow that extends that window? That's the crazy stuff.

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I always fish shadows. I released a bass at my dock. He was very worn out. He slowly swam away along my shore. I was able to walk along with him.  He stopped in the shadow of a cedar stump that over hangs the water.  He did not stop under the stump. He was a foot to the left..in the shadow.

 Ever since then I have been catching fish in the shadows of trees.

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