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jhc1

Distinguishing between rocky bottom and bites?

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Sorry for the multiple new posts, but I had another question. The lake I normally fish has a soft bottom, but today I went to a retention pond w/ a rocky bottom. I realized pretty quickly that when my lures contacted the rocks, I felt a strong "scratching" feeling as I drug my lure across the surface. My question, and I know it's hard to put it into words, is: how do you distinguish between the strong jolts of the rocks verses an actual bite? There were several times where I set the hook unnecessarily, and on the other side of things, I'm sure I missed fish because I assumed it was the rocky bottom. Thoughts? 

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Set the hook with everything you think is a bite. Eventually you will catch the fish and then you'll know exactly what a bite feels like. Most of the time if feel a tick tick tick of the bottom and wooomp of a bite. Imagine the fish sucking in your lure and it hitting the back of its mouth. 

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Rocks don't move!

Tom

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Haha, helpful, but don't I only have a fraction of a second to make the decision to set the hook? If I'm waiting to see if it moves, at that point, it may be too late!

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Hooklets are relatively cheap so set the hook whenever it feels different and you will quickly learn to distinguish a fish and the bottom.

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Setting jigs into rocks isn't cheap, if you don't snag it beyond recovery the hook point gets flattened. When I say rocks don't move, they don't. IF you learn to keep in touch with your jig it's easy to feel line movement when the strike occurs and it only takes as long as cranking the reel handle to initially start a hook set without moving the rod or letting the jig settle down between rocks. You will loose jigs by slack lining jigs in rocks or using too heavy of a jig that settles down into rocks before you can react. Keep in touch means knowing exactly what the jig is doing by controlling the line and feeling the line every moment...consentration is required.

Tom

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58 minutes ago, jhc1 said:

Haha, helpful, but don't I only have a fraction of a second to make the decision to set the hook? If I'm waiting to see if it moves, at that point, it may be too late!

Bass will hold onto a bait longer than a fraction of a second. If they didn't nobody but the lucky would catch them. When you throw a jig get use to what it feels like when a jig suddenly hits a rock. Eventually you will come to recognize the difference but it will take time and patience. Like others have said, hooksets are free so if you are not sure set the hook. I still get surprised every now and then by a bass that felt like a rock.

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There is no easy answer for someone just starting out. A few suggestions though. Fish a jig, or worm until you are familiar with how it feels. When you feel a tap, keep light tension on the bait and hesitate. If the line tightens, goes slack, or your jig feels heavier or lighter SET THE HOOK. Two things I always suggest to someone starting out; go a little heavy with your jig or bullet weight. It will help you maintain bottom contact  and SLOW DOWN. You'll soon learn to distinguish a bite from a rock. As stated before, rocks don't move. 

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It's even more fun jigging a rocky bottom in current for walleye. It's just one of those things you have to do often till the difference in feel is distinguishable, and even when you reach that point sometimes it's not. Even further, the way the fish pick up the bait can change depending on several factors. Put in your time and it will come. Steady concentration will lead to locking in. 

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Tie a weight with no hook on your line and cast it out and retrieve it slowly 20-30 times.  It will help you recognize how to feel different bottom characteristics and you since you know you aren't getting bit, it will help your brain learn that it's OK not to set the hook on every slight change in feel.  

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Say you're picking up slack with you rod,  and you feel tension.   At this point, gently add some more tension with your rod.   If the thing on  the other end feels spongy or gives a little,  it's a fish.   If not,  it's a rock.  If you're not sure,  set the hook. 

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This is all extremely helpful. Thanks, guys and gals! 

I should add that my first instinct upon feeling something is to immediately jerk my rod to set the hook. I don't over exaggerate, but it is a forceful tug. It's tough trying to reprogram my natural response. 

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During an interview Denny Brauer was asked what a jig bite felt like.

He answer was "I don't know but I know what it doesn't feel like". He went on to explain I set hook on everything, stumps, logs, limbs, twigs, leaves, grass, rocks. At the end of the day I'm confident that not a single bass picked up my jig & I did not set hook!

And this is coming from a man who is one of the best jig fishermen in America!

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Hey OP , were you using a jig ?

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I read the response about rocks not moving differently and here is why... Last fall I decided to figure out the jig thing and committed to spending at least an hour each weekend fishing a jig. So one afternoon I was fishing a long a bank with lots of rocks / laydowns,  just dragging along / swimming the jig getting the feel of it working along bumping into this and that. This was a places that I would normally work a crankbait or slow roll a spinnerbait. Whenever I hit a distinctive piece of structure I would cast the jig right back in and rework the jig into it just to get a good feel. A few times I wasn't able to reconnect with the structure. About the third or fourth time a lightbulb went off and I realized that this sensation / feel was just a bit different and wasn't "repeatable". The next time I felt "it" I set the hook and it was a nice two pound spotted bass

Edited by dwardmba
Typo
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2 hours ago, scaleface said:

Hey OP , were you using a jig ?

I was at times using a jig, but I felt the same thing while slow rolling spinnerbaits. 

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48 minutes ago, jhc1 said:

I was at times using a jig, but I felt the same thing while slow rolling spinnerbaits. 

Slow rolling a spinnerbait , I set the hook when it bumps into rocks too , why tke the chance of missing fish .

 As far as jigs , I hop them just like a worm  , watch and feel for a " tic " as it is falling . Dont let it settle , as soon as it hits bottom get it back up .  

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3 hours ago, jhc1 said:

I was at times using a jig, but I felt the same thing while slow rolling spinnerbaits. 

Slow rolling a hefty spinner bait along or up a rocky bottom / drop is a great way to get bit.  It's also makes strike detection a little tricky.

I routinely only use this technique in deep water - depths at which maintaining bottom contact with a crankbait is hard or impossible.  With the recent introduction of the newest over-sized deep plugs like the 10XD, it's almost a wash.     Whatever the depth, if I can use a crankbait effectively, I will as I think they trigger more strikes.  

Either way, when winding a big blade along or up a rocky bottom, I prefer heavy mono (flouro works too), a slower ratio & powerful reel, on a long stout rod.  I select a spinner bait weight / design and a reel retrieve speed that allows the lure to click/ deflect off the rocks without settling between them; once the bait reaches the bottom, and I start the retrieve, I just keep winding.  Whether the bait is bouncing off rocks or a fish grabs the lure - I just keep winding.  When a bass does take the lure the rod will load up, at which point I keep reeling and go with a solid side ways sweep set.  The slow constant retrieve helps reduce snags (common with false hook sets as the bait settles between the rocks on the slack line caused) and on a strike, helps take the slack out of the line on the hook set as well as assist in compensating for the nylon line stretch; especially on a long cast.

A-Jay

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The reason I throw Stanley spinnerbaits is the give off more vibrations than any on the market.

When that vibration stop I set hook ;)

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I must be reeling in a bit too slow- I lost a pepper spinnerbait yesterday to rocks (as well as a mushroom jighead), and this morning, I lost a chatterbait. 

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Just now, jhc1 said:

I must be reeling in a bit too slow- I lost a pepper spinnerbait yesterday to rocks (as well as a mushroom jighead), and this morning, I lost a chatterbait. 

Perhaps ~

While using that presentation, being very close to the bottom is usually important.  Occasionally ticking or defecting off the bottom (rocks) is a good strike trigger and best case scenario.   Super slow crawling a spinner bait along a rocky bottom (especially coming up the drop) hasn't been very effective for me, but does result in more hang ups. 

There are a few factors that determine how & where that bait will travel along in the water column. In no particular order but all important:

Bait size, design & weight, Line size & type, Spinner bait Blade Size, Type & Number of blades, Size & type of trailer (if any) and lastly - Boat Position.

Using your position in relationship to the shape, grade & distance to the structure your fishing can determine how & where your bait runs.  Setting up too close to a drop can cause the last part of your cast to rise up prematurely missing some prime areas.  Being too far away can cause the line in the middle of your long cast to rub / drag on the bottom as your bait is on the deeper side and on it's way up.  This is highly undesirable for several reasons which include but may not be limited to, reduced strike detection, weak hook sets & even lost fish from broken line.

 When fishing up or along a steeper drop,  a simple modification with rod position during the retrieve can make a difference as well.  Keeping the rod low (or at the water line) and the raising it up as the end of the cast nears and the bait is starting to come shallow (nearer the boat).  Once an active school is located, and I get a good idea of where & or how the bass are positioned, setting up to make repeat presentations becomes a little easier.  Until then, there's a lot of poke & hope.

:)

A-Jay

 

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4 minutes ago, A-Jay said:

Perhaps ~

While using that presentation, being very close to the bottom is usually important.  Occasionally ticking or defecting off the bottom (rocks) is a good strike trigger and best case scenario.   Super slow crawling a spinner bait along a rocky bottom (especially coming up the drop) hasn't been very effective for me, but does result in more hang ups. 

There are a few factors that determine how & where that bait will travel along in the water column. In no particular order but all important:

Bait size, design & weight, Line size & type, Spinner bait Blade Size, Type & Number of blades, Size & type of trailer (if any) and lastly - Boat Position.

Using your position in relationship to the shape, grade & distance to the structure your fishing can determine how & where your bait runs.  Setting up too close to a drop can cause the last part of your cast to rise up prematurely missing some prime areas.  Being too far away can cause the line in the middle of your long cast to rub / drag on the bottom as your bait is on the deeper side and on it's way up.  This is highly undesirable for several reasons which include but may not be limited to, reduced strike detection, weak hook sets & even lost fish from broken line.

 When fishing up or along a steeper drop,  a simple modification with rod position during the retrieve can make a difference as well.  Keeping the rod low (or at the water line) and the raising it up as the end of the cast nears and the bait is starting to come shallow (nearer the boat).  Once an active school is located, and I get a good idea of where & or how the bass are positioned, setting up to make repeat presentations becomes a little easier.  Until then, there's a lot of poke & hope.

:)

A-Jay

 

I wasn't expecting so learn so much good information from my question- thank you. I probably should have mentioned that I'm strictly bank fishing for the time being, so I get caught up pretty close to where I'm standing  as I bring the lure in. 

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2 hours ago, A-Jay said:

When fishing up or along a steeper drop,  a simple modification with rod position during the retrieve can make a difference as well.  Keeping the rod low (or at the water line) and the raising it up as the end of the cast nears and the bait is starting to come shallow (nearer the boat).  Once an active school is located, and I get a good idea of where & or how the bass are positioned, setting up to make repeat presentations becomes a little easier.  Until then, there's a lot of poke & hope.

:)

A-Jay

 

I would be willing to bet 80% or more of the anglers here do not do this!

I do it waking a spinnerbait, normal retrieval of a spinnerbait, or slow rolling a spinnerbait.

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On 7/31/2016 at 4:51 PM, Catt said:

I would be willing to bet 80% or more of the anglers here do not do this!

I do it waking a spinnerbait, normal retrieval of a spinnerbait, or slow rolling a spinnerbait.

@A-Jay

Ok guys I read this the other day and it stuck in my mind. Can one of you explain that last paragragh. I can't seem to figure out. I normally do the opposite, keep rod tip up and bring it down as I near the end of cast. What am I missing? Thanks

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1 minute ago, riverbasser said:

@A-Jay

Ok guys I read this the other day and it stuck in my mind. Can one of you explain that last paragragh. I can't seem to figure out. I normally do the opposite, keep rod tip up and bring it down as I near the end of cast. What am I missing? Thanks

Sure - it's a fairly simple concept to grasp and the difference in depth recognized will be directly related to rod length. 

A lowered rod on the retrieve encourages the bait to travel lower in the water column than a high point rod position. 

So when bringing a lure up a drop, grade or steep bank, using a lowered rod position at the start and through the middle of the retrieve and then as the bait approaches the boat (or bank) raising the rod to keep the bait close to but off the bottom so as not to foul, may get you a few more strikes. 

Not magic, just another tool.

A-Jay

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