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New to fishing ledges, points, and drop offs. Help?

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So, I've only ever known shore fishing up until I bought my bass boat this month. So, I've never had the chance to even see what a ledge or drop off looks like on sonar. Yesterday I was just cruising looking at the sonar and spotted where the water drop's from 5ft to 20ft and that must be the ledge. I always here people talking about fishing points, drop offs, ledges, etc.. I would love to learn on how to fish these spots, but have no idea where to start. I am very confident with spinners, but I don't know if these work in the depths. 

How do I fish these spots? Do I throw cranks? If so, what type? Do I throw a t-rig worm, or creature? Jig? It's so overwhelming. 

When I find the ledge, point or drop off, should I even fish it if the sonar isn't marking fish? 

Do I cast into the shallow, and bring it deep, or vice versa? Do I fish parallel to the ledge?

 

Any tips are appreciated.

 

Tight lines, Jason. 

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I fish drop-offs all the time.  In south Florida we have loads of man made canals and lakes that have shallow flats and then a deep drop off usually 8' to 15' in depth, and straight down.  Bass love to hang against these walls  for shade, ambush points, and safety from the shallow weedy flats full of big gar and gators.  Big girls will leave the spawning flats and go deep after the spawn to recover.  I will often fish parallel to the drop off, especially if the wall provides shade while the sun is on an angle.  I often use a senko  or fluke and let it flutter down the wall to the bottom, then I will fish it slow with a jerk and long pause, or I'll pop it off the bottom about 3 feet and let it flutter back to the bottom.  I use as little weight as the conditions will allow so I get a more natural presentation.  I will also slow roll a 3/4 spinnerbait with a Colorado blade, or black and blue jig along the bottom maintaining contact with the bottom, right next to the drop-off.  Again this is a parallel presentation, a lot of our drop-offs are straight down. 

 

Brew City Bass, if you fill out your personal info we will have a better idea of where you are fishing, and the conditions you maybe under when giving a response to your questions. 

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New members tend to leave off where they are located, the location of the lake can be important as it helps to know what the terrain is like and what type of bass and baitfish you have. The underwater terrain is usually the same as the surrounding area. A good topo map or sonar unit with Navoinics maps are very useful in determining what your sonar unit is displaying Keep in mind everything display is already behind you.

The Carolina or finesse C-rig is a good bottom contract technique to use to catch bass and learn about the bottom structure and depth. 

Look for the life zone, the depth you see sonar returns that indicate small baitfish or larger fish, that is the depth you want to fish. If you see marks near the bottom or on the sides of points or other types of bottom structure, they are usually bass if the baitfish are at the same depth.

You need to read and spend time using your boat, sonar and various presentations to become skilled at structure bass fishing.

Bass change their preferences all the time regarding fishing down hill, up hill or side hill.

Tom

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Buy some marker buoys . Mark cover on the structure . The best bait by far for me , a Texas rigged Plastic worm .

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I love a deep diving crankbait on rocky drop-offs.  I start shallow and go deeper, bouncing the crankbait off the rocks.  It's really a fun way to fish. 

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Sorry for the lack of information. I live in Wisconsin and am fishing in the South East part of the state, Waukesha Co. to be exact.

The lake is Okauchee lake for anyone who knows it. I'll fill out my profile with details. 

 

19 minutes ago, avidone1 said:

I love a deep diving crankbait on rocky drop-offs.  I start shallow and go deeper, bouncing the crankbait off the rocks.  It's really a fun way to fish. 

How do I choose the depth of the crank? If I am fishing a 20ft drop, do I throw a 10ft crank if the baitfish are at 10ft?

Thank's for the tips already! 

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First how quick did it go from 5' to 20'?

Second was it a hump, creek channel, point, or somethingelse?

Need a tad bite more information?

Looking at sonar is nice if ya know what ya looking at?

Can you find this "ledge" on a topographic map?

Keep in mind all bass relate to structure in some form but not all structure holds bass!

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39 minutes ago, Catt said:

First how quick did it go from 5' to 20'?

Second was it a hump, creek channel, point, or somethingelse?

Need a tad bite more information?

Looking at sonar is nice if ya know what ya looking at?

Can you find this "ledge" on a topographic map?

Keep in mind all bass relate to structure in some form but not all structure holds bass!

I'd say it dropped to 20' over the length of 5-10 yards. Not a complete drop off, but not a long slope.

I am not sure what a hump or creek channel would look like. I was just cruising 20 yards off shore and noticed the drop off. It wasn't at a point.

I can see if I can find it on the map.

 

Here is the drop off circled in black

1.png

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I believe your lake is a natural or not man made impoundment. A lot terms your read about are features found in man made impoundments that are flooded river valleys before the dam was constructed.

Try to find a 1' elevation topo map if possible, if not a 5' would be maximum, your map is a 20' elevation and not enough detail. The closer the elevation line com together the faster the depth change is. Your describe a steep bank underwater point, there is a similar point to left from your spot that looks better.

Your lake also has muskies, they make bass a secondary predator and may not be able to locate on outside deep structure that musky prefer.

Tom

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Also, learn to read bottom composition from your sonar.  Finding ideal structure involves finding other key features like preferential bottom composition, changes in bottom composition, weeds, changes in weeds, rocks, etc.. In clear water, sometimes your eyes can locate changes in weeds and pockets, other times you'll have to follow your sonar to mark these spots.  Learning to fish bottom contact baits like Carlina rigs, Texas rigs, and jigs can also really help you to feel what's under the water, and they're some of my first choices when fish are relating to the bottom be it 4' or 20' of water. 

Also, welcome to the forum!  There's a ton of good information on here and the fellas who posted above me could write a book on structure fishing.  

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Now we get into definitions of structure

The Random House Dictionary defines “ledge” as “any relatively narrow, projecting part” or “a more or less flat shelf of rock.” To savvy offshore bass anglers, it has a bit broader meaning. “I call it ledge fishing anytime I’m working main-lake offshore structure alongside a submerged river channel,” says Kevin VanDam. From in-fisherman



 

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First,..you should cruise around the lake for a while and see if you can locate baitfish on your sonar to determine what depth they are holding at. This will tell you what ledges and drops you should concentrate on for that moment. Say the bait is holding at 15' or so, then your ledge should work if the bait is nearby,... if the bait isnt nearby then find a drop or ledge, or some other cover on structure nearby relating to that depth. with bait nearby and FISH IT!,.  Cover on structure is key, and if your ledge doesnt have any weeds or wood etc. on it,... it may not produce unless the bait is pinned against it

Now for lures? I like a jighead with a 3 or 4 inch grub for "testing" drops, the reason i like such a smaller lure is that most fish will hit it, and that will tell me whats down there, if anything at all. And the reason i choose a bottom bouncing lure is that it "feels" out the bottoms topography, giving me a visual. If its a lake that I know bass are the predominent predator. I will throw a  jig and pig, or texas rigged worm (size and type determined by conditions)

 Many anglers will throw a spinnerbait or some other search lure like a crankbait, or chatterbait, and id agree with that in a tourney situation, and I would follow suit,,,, But fishing for fun, id rather get right to canvassing the area,.This also will allow you to feel the subtle differences down there, and possibly stumble onto a sweet spot. But i will fish it "kinda" quickly as to not spend all day on one drop. I cast up shallow about 15 ft away from edges drop, work it to the edge, then pull it over the edge and give the line slack as to allow it to drop straight down while watching the line for any movement, ticks, hits, etc., jig it again, and again, and continue this action till Im satisfied its reached the drops bottom.

With all the variables available in fishing ledges and drops? i could almost type out a book. So,.. consider these tips, I hope they help you some

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All of my ledge fishing has been on river reservoirs where the dominate variable is always current. Number two, as Keith "Hamma" Hatch noted, is depth. Next is the presence of fish that you can see with your electronics. My most successful presentation has been a 10" Thumper, Purple Fleck. ALWAYS cast up-river and retrieve on the bottom just fast enough or slow enough to match the current. The strike will usually come just as the worm falls over the drop.

Some ledges or contour may extend a hundred yards or more. We like to identify the ledge using buoys, then casting beyond the imaginary line. Cover the area thoroughly, but if you don't get a bite on the first go around, move on to another ledge. The fish are either there or they on not. Come back later, the fish move around. The most successful ledge fisherman will accumulate a lot of way points over time and run from one to another fairly quickly. When you find one fish, you may find them all!

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Almost all the good structure I ever fished has been connected to the shore .The bass can travel from the structure to the shore without  swimming over open water .  There has  been a few exceptions . 

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10 hours ago, Brew City Bass said:

I'd say it dropped to 20' over the length of 5-10 yards. Not a complete drop off, but not a long slope.

I am not sure what a hump or creek channel would look like. I was just cruising 20 yards off shore and noticed the drop off. It wasn't at a point.

I can see if I can find it on the map.

 

Here is the drop off circled in black

1.png

It maybe a dropoff but I would not consider it a "ledge", as matter of fact I probably would not fish it. Now the hump marked " The Volcano " would get my full attention!

 

1 hour ago, scaleface said:

Almost all the good structure I ever fished has been connected to the shore .The bass can travel from the structure to the shore without  swimming over open water .  There has  been a few exceptions . 

Then you're missing a lot of good structure! 

Bass move along breaklines ;)

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3 minutes ago, Catt said:

It maybe a dropoff but I would not consider it a "ledge", as matter of fact I probably would not fish it. Now the hump marked " The Volcano " would get my full attention!

 

Then you're missing a lot of good structure! 

Bass move along breaklines ;)

 If the breaklines are deeper than the  bass because of lack of O2 or other reasons  then the bass will not follow that line . I think you know what my point was .

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3 minutes ago, scaleface said:

 If the breaklines are deeper than the  bass because of lack of O2 or other reasons  then the bass will not follow that line . I think you know what my point was .

Breakline: A breakline can have more than one meaning. It can be another word for a drop-off/ledge, or a point of any quick change in depth. It can also be used to describe the edge of a vegetation line. For example, a "weed break" is the area of the weed bed where the weeds meet up with open water; or, where one type of weed meets up with another. The last example happens when bottom composition changes, as different weeds prefer different types of bottom composition. In rocky impoundments, a breakline can also describe a line where rock meets mud, pea gravel, etc. In other words, the most correct definition for a breakline is "Any distinct line that is made by cover or structure which leads to an abrupt change in bottom depth, bottom composition, or cover transition".

Remember, bass must have a visible path of breaks and break lines on a structure from deep water all the way to the shallows, which is where the bulk of food is available to game fish. As bass move along a structure they pause or stop at "things" (breaks and break lines) on the bottom. It is at such "things" that anglers can expect to make consistent contact with fish as they migrate along a structure. This is why a certain stump or flooded tree, dock piling or submerged rock consistently produces bass for anglers.

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16 minutes ago, Catt said:

Breakline: A breakline can have more than one meaning. It can be another word for a drop-off/ledge, or a point of any quick change in depth. It can also be used to describe the edge of a vegetation line. For example, a "weed break" is the area of the weed bed where the weeds meet up with open water; or, where one type of weed meets up with another. The last example happens when bottom composition changes, as different weeds prefer different types of bottom composition. In rocky impoundments, a breakline can also describe a line where rock meets mud, pea gravel, etc. In other words, the most correct definition for a breakline is "Any distinct line that is made by cover or structure which leads to an abrupt change in bottom depth, bottom composition, or cover transition".

Remember, bass must have a visible path of breaks and break lines on a structure from deep water all the way to the shallows, which is where the bulk of food is available to game fish. As bass move along a structure they pause or stop at "things" (breaks and break lines) on the bottom. It is at such "things" that anglers can expect to make consistent contact with fish as they migrate along a structure. This is why a certain stump or flooded tree, dock piling or submerged rock consistently produces bass for anglers.

That was my meaning . I fish for lots of species . Humps for example , are one of my favorite spots . If a hump has a saddle leading to it , its a classic area. If the hump comes out of the depths in the middle of a reservoir not so much though i have caught a few from these places   . Those humps will hold populations of crappie , white bass , channel cats but not so much largemouths .Thats been  my experience . 

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Texas Rigged senko, zoom worm or lizard or craw works for me. If its clear, no braid. 

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1 hour ago, scaleface said:

That was my meaning . I fish for lots of species . Humps for example , are one of my favorite spots . If a hump has a saddle leading to it , its a classic area. If the hump comes out of the depths in the middle of a reservoir not so much though i have caught a few from these places   . Those humps will hold populations of crappie , white bass , channel cats but not so much largemouths .Thats been  my experience . 

You would not do well around here ;)

Right now if you can't fish offshore structure ya might get skunked!

Well maybe not skunked but you would catch a 5 bass stringer of 12-15 lbs while I catch stringers of 25-30 lbs.

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16 minutes ago, Catt said:

You would not do well around here ;)

Right now if you can't fish offshore structure ya might get skunked!

Well maybe not skunked but you would catch a 5 bass stringer of 12-15 lbs while I catch stringers of 25-30 lbs.

I fish offshore structure all the time,.  . You used the more appropriate word " shallows " I used the word  "shore"  . Substitute shore for shallows , were talking exactly the same thing . 

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Shallows do not only mean shoreline!

The hump on the above map IS shallow water when compared to the surrounding area.

No we ain't talking the same thing ;)

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Were talking the same thing . I admitted the word shallows was a more appropriate word . Get over yourself .

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In this picture I'm fishing a underwater point on a flat that is over a mile offshore & is in no way shape of form attached to the shoreline!

large.6f33f6a274595e04d685df69984fd0c5.jpg.865e45a1ddd8aea295f34a0b1a91c41c.jpg

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Cat , I agree with you . You're just so dang unagreeableness that you cant agree that I agree with you .

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