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riverbasser

deciphering lake maps for largemouth

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I realize there is another topic similar to mine but it is different enough to justify a new post. I recently acquired a new depth finder with mapping software(lakemaster) and I need some help targeting largemouth on my local reservoir (Lake Eufaula, AL). I have a decent understanding of most types of structure but lack a true understanding of how bass use and move throughout the lake using these structures. there are tons of ledge's, humps, and points that it seems overwhelming. What makes one special over another and if you were going to a new lake what areas would be your prime spots that should hold largemouth from now through summer? pictures would be much appreciated

few more details are the deepest parts of river channel is around 70 ft. average depth of lake is around 20 to 35 ft. and it stays stained for most of the year

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What makes any spot prime is how frequently bait travel through or past an area, from the time a bass becomes adult enough to move out to deeper water it already knows some of the best spots and how to find them, a location in the lake can have all the best cover and best looking structure in the entire lake but, if the bass know there is no food for them there then they have no use for it, follow the bait or baits, prime areas will offer many different species an ample food source, from plankton to bass, each have their role to play, the better or best areas will also offer deep water access or access to the deepest water in the areas that hold fish.

I agree that it seems overwhelming and at first it is, but, it is simply, very simply, a matter of finding the predominate prey and how that species relates to the structure in your body of water on a daily basis, it's time on the water and lots of it, it's understanding what that sonar is sending back to you and then putting that new sonar equipment to work for you, what you will find and what you will learn from your body of water will a lot of times translate to new bodies of water, not all the time but it certainly aids in the search for possible areas that will hold fish, after that it's water conditions and technique adjustments.

I am still learning, this is what I have learned so far to be true, it's a lot of work that is just now starting to pay back from a long period of scouting, scanning, reading and asking questions, two books will help you tremendously along with this website, "in pursuit of giant bass" by Bill Murphy and "Spoonplugging" by Elwood "Buck" Perry.

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Thanks for the detailed reply. So basically I need to look at all structure with deep water nearby and find the bait. Sounds simpler in words lol. How easy is it for you to normally find bait? Or most likely in my case shad schools?  Also how do you determine how deep is too deep or where the thermocline is? Thanks again

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Sorry for the delay riverbasser, I am working on a response, I want to make sure that I try to phrase everything as best I can, I'm not really good at doing so, I had family night last night and this morning work is getting in the way LOL !  I will get back to you ASAP.

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The way I went about it may be different for you, as each of us are different in the way we learn and go about doing things but, I started here, on this site, I learned from many here and will continue to learn.

Looking for structure with deep water access is great for this time of year and throughout the summer months, finding areas with deep water access is an application you would use primarily for finding the more mature bass, this goes back to the importance of understanding bass growth and behavior and their relation to the use of the right structure, deep water access means access to the deepest part of the water being fished, this could mean that access is less than a foot for where the fish are located, so be open minded when you think about it, in order for an area to be productive, I think Buck says it best and I would like to incert a quote from him if I may.

It must be remembered that deep water is where bass spend the greater part of their time because it is a sanctuary from changing weather and water conditions. Thus, in order for a structure, break or break line to be consistently productive for mature bass, it must be very close to deep water, or at least, the deepest water in the area being fished. You cannot have schools of large bass if the structure, breaks and break lines are not connected in some manner to deep water."

That is from Elwood "Buck" Perry.

How easy is it for me to find bait?

Well, driving around in a boat really isn't all that difficult LOL!

Once you put yourself out there on the water on a daily basis you begin to find the answers, the ease and or difficulty of finding bait depends on the abundancy of life sustaining properties within each body of water and in each area of that body of water.

Remain open minded when we speak about bait, remember we are looking for the predominate bait, just because we see schools of bait on a daily basis may not mean they are the predominate bait, look thuroghly into each area you fish.

How deep is too deep?

Depth is determined by the fish, not by us, from the moment you launch your boat your eyes need to be on the sonar as much as possible, what depth are the fish suspending in, what depth are the fish relating to bottom in, this can help eliminate a lot of water in areas you choose to fish.

Thermocline,

The thermocline is basically in a nut shell, a change in density, there are a lot of discussions about the thermocline on here and how it changes the fish's behavior so I won't get into too much because you really should read up from the experts on the subject and if those reading this would be willing to supply a link to that or those threads I would greatly appreciate the help, I can't get to them for some reason on my phone, 

It is that change in density that can be reflected on your sonar if you have the settings properly adjusted, read up and get familiar with what your sonar is capable of doing for you.

I hope that helps and I hope I said everything right, if not please chime in!!

 

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Nitrofreak  :clap:

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Thank you for the great information and your time man and Im beginning to understand that the questions I have cannot fully be learned from reading but by my time on the water, and riding around looking at the sonar is not hard lol, you are right. but with a lake that is 45 thousand acres I just wanted to find some good places to start my search and rule out the large areas of most likely unproductive water. I used to use a hotspots paper map and still do some which when looking at it made my lake look somewhat featureless but this new lakemaster software makes my lake look like an underwater maze with all the contour lines lol. and that is what has intimidated me some. Again thanks for the insight Nitrofreak.

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Thanks all!!

Riverbasser, my home lake is about a quarter that size, other lakes we have covers 2 states, regardless, the best way to break down a body of water IMO always starts with local fishing reports, a lot of times there are areas in those reports that will lead you to at the very least productive areas or in close proximity to those areas, from there, I like to use satellite imagery and topo maps, places where I start to look are areas that may have good spawning areas, preferably ones with a fresh water supply and work my way out from there, creek arms with multiple secondary points with interesting features, maybe a long underwater point that rises to a hump or has some other interesting feature like a small shelf,  or the creek arm has several bends in the channel, from there it's just a matter of exploration, covering as much water as possible with your sonar and then finally fishing those areas thuroghly, that has helped me a bunch when I travel, with a lake that big I'm sure it's like fishing a new body of water almost every day!!

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it definitely can feel that way. which in part is why I fish the river so often instead, its much easier to learn and have success but the challenge is what makes bass fishing fun and ADDICTING! I normally spend some time at lake and if I have a few slow outings in a row I hit the river and build my confidence back up.

one thing I've started doing is studying the lake on fish finder while sitting in the garage lol, looking for the things you mentioned and marking a few waypoints, this way when I get to the lake I don't feel so lost about where to start and I can spend more time on the water actually fishing than looking.

Hey Catt, I read a post of yours a few days ago about how you love fishing the "Y" where river and creek channels meet underwater. What are your typical depths. I ask because almost all of those places on my home lake are very deep (25ft and up). Are you finding bass that deep?

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Well, we hope you have a blast, good luck and be safe !!!

Let us know how you do !!!!!

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On 5/11/2016 at 0:46 PM, riverbasser said:

Hey Catt, I read a post of yours a few days ago about how you love fishing the "Y" where river and creek channels meet underwater. What are your typical depths. I ask because almost all of those places on my home lake are very deep (25ft and up). Are you finding bass that deep?

There are spots on Toledo Bend that are that deep & are highly productive!

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@riverbasser when deciphering a lake map you must look at what is available!

If river/creek intersection are at 10-15' or 20-25' I will spend time fishing them!

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57 minutes ago, Catt said:

@riverbasser when deciphering a lake map you must look at what is available!

If river/creek intersection are at 10-15' or 20-25' I will spend time fishing them!

I will definitely check them out, what times of the year are they most productive for you? I was thinking most of the summer in the hottest times

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Just now, riverbasser said:

I will definitely check them out, what times of the year are they most productive for you? I was thinking most of the summer in the hottest times

Depends on where they are located, are they on the main lake or in creek channel coves?

Main lake = summer & winter

Coves = summer, fall, winter, & early pre-spawn

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that's what i was thinking, most of mine are main lake or right at the creek mouth

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2 minutes ago, riverbasser said:

that's what i was thinking, most of mine are main lake or right at the creek mouth

Those would be year round! ;)

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Y's where 2 channels come together are good pre spawn staging and post spawn holding areas. As you go up into a creek arm the secondary point Y channel are the shallowest and most obvious during the spawn cycle. You can follow the bass out of the creek arm, depending on how long the arm is, where they set up on similar structure in the main lake.

Catt is a expert on this type of structure fishing. I look for saddles, changes is depth, any wood or rock piles. I don't like to fish deeper than 40' unless during the winter and it's neccesary to deeper. Probably spend more time fishing off shore then near shore unless that is where the bass are located.

Learn to use your sonar to help determine what depth fish, thermocline level, baitfish depth and bass near structure...depth is important!

Tom

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4 minutes ago, WRB said:

Y's where 2 channels come together are good pre spawn staging and post spawn holding areas. As you go up into a creek arm the secondary point Y channel are the shallowest and most obvious during the spawn cycle. You can follow the bass out of the creek arm, depending on how long the arm is, where they set up on similar structure in the main lake.

Catt is a expert on this type of structure fishing. I look for saddles, changes is depth, any wood or rock piles. I don't like to fish deeper than 40' unless during the winter and it's neccesary to deeper. Probably spend more time fishing off shore then near shore unless that is where the bass are located.

Learn to use your sonar to help determine what depth fish, thermocline level, baitfish depth and bass near structure...depth is important!

Tom

Will do, next trip to lake I will be doing a lot of riding and looking at the screen around all my creek and river channels maybe find some cover near them and I should be in the money!! what are your favorite lures for the deeper Y's? I will definitely be throwing a jig. Thanks guys

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Jigs, T-rigged worms, slip and drop shot if finesse fishing. Scroungers and swimbaits and structure spoons, depending on type bait fish schools. I am a jig fisherman at heart.

Tom

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Carolina Rig ;)

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1 hour ago, WRB said:

Jigs, T-rigged worms, slip and drop shot if finesse fishing. Scroungers and swimbaits and structure spoons, depending on type bait fish schools. I am a jig fisherman at heart.

Tom

familiar with all of the above except for scroungers. I know what they look like but that is the end of my knowledge. how do you use them and what are you imitating with what plastics?

16 minutes ago, Catt said:

Carolina Rig ;)

Whats your favorite Carolina plastic when fishing DEEP?

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Don't forget deep diving cranks ;)

Trophy_Hunter_11__21681.1397396685.380.380.jpg

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28 minutes ago, Catt said:

Don't forget deep diving cranks ;)

Trophy_Hunter_11__21681.1397396685.380.380.jpg

What the heck is that thing?

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1 hour ago, riverbasser said:

What the heck is that thing?

Death ;)

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Give me a hint:huh:

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