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bchase44

Finding structure

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First question post here:

First of all, I've read every one of the great threads on structure (and almost every other thread in best of).  Over the last few months, I've decided to find some of that structure Catt discusses on my lake.

Some info:

I've fished before but never regularly.. Always wanted to get a boat and get good at it.  A couple months ago I got a nice fishing kayak, love it, and it came with a fish finder, a Hummingbird 581i HD Down Imager. And am determined to learn new techniques and stop constantly fishing cover my eyes can see and start finding structure with the finder.  I am new to the fish finder thing.. about all I know is to turn the fish id off and adjust the screen depth shown to my lake.

My lake:

Lake Conway is an Arkansas Game Fish Commission created reservoir about 6,500 sq feet.  The average depth is said to be 4 ft.  Logs and standing timber are everywhere, most people flat-bottom boat but if any designer bass boats get out there they usually go slow.  When the lake was created, there were existing creeks and lakes that were submerged.  One of these places is where I fish, the paper map shows areas of 12 ft of water where the lake was, but I have been over it and I believe it may be silted in.. the map appears like it has not been updated in decades.. the deepest I can find is about 9.5 ft.

Which brings me to my first few outings with the fish finder on board, I head straight for the submerged lake, thinking I was going to find great crevasses and drop offs and mighty humps that those without a finder know nothing about....  And arches.. many arches..

What I actually found seemed like a barren wasteland.. I know I was in the right area for the submerged lake.  I could read about 5 feet depth and travel to the lake and it went to 9.5 feet, but ever so slightly incline.. Like 50 yards to get from 5 ft to the 9ft depth..  

So my question, does that count as structure still?.  I saw hardly any fish relating to the incline.. For some reason I thought I'd see a prominent drop-off with fish on the top edge and bottom.

Also while paddling around / above the submerged lake.. I kept seeing small fuzzy blobs suspended, these don't look like the "baitballs" that Fluke and them show on you-tube.. I was thinking they may be suspended moss clumps.. But perhaps they are bait fish. Next time out I will try to get a photo of it.. I went ahead and fished them anyway with shad-like cranks but got no bites.  (by the way yellowfin shad are in this lake, not sure about gizzard).. it could be the blobs are how my finder registers tall stumps / brushpiles.. I tried going over logs I could see but glide over and it is harder than I thought to tell what is what on the screen. (there are about 6 "views" but I'm not sure what they all do yet)

The only thing I have figured out is that a particular bank close to the submerged lake (which if you remember I went west along a north facing bank, when I get to the submerged lake that shoreline turns south facing West and faces the submerged lake).. That west facing bank the bass feed on it when the sun is about an hour to sunset.  I caught a couple 3lbers there on a superspot in about 10 mins.  And the second time I hit it at sunset I was using a ned rig and caught large freshwater drum, and think hooked but lost a decent bass.  So I have found a decent activity spot at a certain time at least.  (by the way the ned rig I never heard of until this site)

Anyway, any advice or feedback to my start at venturing off the bank beaten path will be appreciated. I'm sure I left out important info somewhere.  

Barry

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Try to answer some of these questions. The slow sloping from 5 to 9ft in 50ft is structure but its not what your looking for. In this particular lake you might not see many of the things Catt describes in his post. Hard to believe the deepest spot in that big of a lake is 9ft. Anyway I would say your best bet is to find cover but this doesn't have to be on the bank like you said. With a shallow depth like this I would guess the bass to be relating to cover almost all the time. What kind of vegetation are in the lake? Just guessing but I would think there is a lot of grass or pads since the sunrays should be able to reach bottom in most places? This is where the bait fish will congregate for food & shelter and the bass will too for the same reasons. 

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Welcome to offshore fishing!  Can you post a map of the lake? I would start by drawing a map of the lake and noting any bends in the original creek channel.  In shallow lakes, any abrupt change, especially if cover is also present, can be a fish magnet.    Not all points, flats, and weed beds are equal, and a map can be useful.  Even if old topo maps aren't 100% accurate anymore, they still provide a guide to finding fish holding structure.  

As for the "globs", depending upon your unit and how sensitive you have it set, they could be baitfish, crappie schools, detached vegetation, etc.. A picture and knowing your settings can be helpful.  Also, in shallow water, your unit isn't going to be casting a very wide cone, so relying on it to ID fish is very difficult.  I fish shallow rivers and lakes mostly in my kayak and I typically use my electronics to track depth, weedline, and bottom composition.  The upside is that while it may not actually spot fish, it will give you the information necessary to find places LIKELY to hold fish.  

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thanks both of you,

riverbasser: I believe there are some spots around 12 ft. see map link below.  As for vegetation, I am struggling seeing it on my finder or with eyes or hooks.. I rarely feel any veggies on the retrieve (just stumps and sticks).  I'm not sure if it grows in 4ft or so as that is what is the usual depth about 10ft from bank?

Finder settings:

Down Sensitivity 18/20

DI Enhance > Contrast 10

Sharpness - High

Lower Range 15ft

Chart Speed 6

Imaging Palette: Light

Turkey - I found a online map here:

http://www.agfc.com/resources/fishingMaps/Lake Conway.pdf

I put in at Adams Lake on the East side of the lake.. and you can see the submerged lake to the west.  This also shows depth of 10ft rather than 12 like my old paper map.

I have been wanting to try the prominent point directly north of Lawrence Landing Access as well

And also the Highway 89 bridge on the south side of the lake.

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Lily Pads. if you see the small cove to the East of where I put in at Adams Lake ramp.. There are vast areas of pads in that cove, about 2-4 feet of water up in there.

Given the shallow nature of the entire lake, I figure vertical drop-shotting is out unless I find them in the 10-12 ft range and am very quiet.

I also believe this lake has no thermocline (too shallow) and therefore I don't believe it will "turnover" in fall.. But I am throwing some terms I have only began to read about on here :huh:

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Maps make this much easier!  

So, while this doesn't necessarily look like a topo map Catt would break down on his threads, the same ideas apply.  In this case, you don't have a ton of "offshore" structure, but you do have a ton of creek channels creating points.  The points off of Lawrence Landing Rd and The Highway 89 bridge both provide relative deep water access.  These spots also create something of a funnel or pinch point for current (also see Dix Creek West Access area).  

What's the bottom composition like in these areas? What kind of cover are you working with in these areas? What forage species are present?  

 

Without knowing anything else, these are the likely places I would check out first.  Now, there's a good chance someone like Catt or WRB will see something totally different/better, but this is where I would start.  

 

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I'm with you on those spots, the wind, the few times I've been so far, is usually blowing SE.. So if wind = current then it should be sending water through the small inlet towards Dix West.  And if the Dam (far south) is running water.. It almost has to create current at the 89 bridge. (incidentally 89 bridge is what the local bait shop says is the best spot to fish for crappie / catfish)

I've bank fished 89 bridge and took the kayak there once.  Storm actually sent me under the bridge to wait it out since I put in at the dam site that day. (no finder on that day though). I know there's rip rap around the bridge area.

The only forage I know for sure are bluegill and yellowtail shad. Many years ago I used to live at gold creek (teenager so serious fishing was not on priority).. but I recall seeing the shad swirling the surface when the water was calm.

Bottom composition around adams lake is dead leaves, and my anchor sometimes gets stuck in the dark black silt.. I have to dunk it a few times to get most of it off rather than in the yak.  From what I've read I interpret that as not good for jigs but maybe better for c-rigs. I dunno I haven't had a good experience with the c-rigs lol

Forgot to ask, were my finder settings looking ok above?

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Here is a photo of the lake (not mine), just wanted to highlight the 1,000's of standing trees (I believe cypress but don't know my trees)

 

GOOD MORNING LAKE.jpg

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Sonar - 

I don't know that specific unit, but they don't seem out of whack, and if the lake isn't overly nutrient rich and blooming, I wouldn't be so fast to write off potential baitfish markings as algae blooms.  I would look for arches underneath the potential bait balls, but they may still be worth a cast - remember, your sonar cone is only going out 30-45 degrees from your transducer, so you may not be seeing a whole lot.  

Structure -

So, change in bottom composition can also be important.  If you have silt bottoms that transition to green weeds or silt that transitions to rip rap, those are also areas of interest.  With spots like that bridge, I would paying attention to those bridge pilings and the current breaks created by the two points and any bottom irregularities in that area that would act as eddies or ambush points.  With current present, fish are using it to push baitfish towards them and will almost always be oriented facing into the current.  

 

That kind of muck on the bottom can be rough to fish with jigs, but C-rigs, drop shots, swim jigs, and especially Crankbaits running just deep enough to tic the bottom can be good options.  What's the water clarity like? Mostly tannic and stained? 

11 minutes ago, bchase44 said:

Here is a photo of the lake (not mine), just wanted to highlight the 1,000's of standing trees (I believe cypress but don't know my trees)

 

GOOD MORNING LAKE.jpg

Into the fall, if you can find those anywhere near current and/or a channel swing, those can potentially make a great jig/pitching or spinnerbait pattern, especially if you see schools of Shad being pushed into them.  

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Thanks for all your info, this is helping a lot!  Getting fired up to go back!

AR Game and Fish reports the water clear this week, but I've never considered it clear on my trips. I'm doing good to see a bait 8 inches below the surface.. Or maybe a foot if chartreuse.  I always thought it was tannic from the timber.

I will have to look for these channels / creeks. and where they bend. I have a feeling it will be a slight depression but if I can find one I want to follow it until I see something else in it like a stump or log or whatever the fuzzy blob is.

My transducer fits on the side of my yak and angles straight down, I struggled at first (and still kinda) in determining how far I should go past it after I see something I want to stop and fish.  But it sounds like I should locate it and position myself downwind or down current.. cast over it and retrieve into it to appear something is coming down the current. 

I've read many times on here to fish uphill on points. And I realize now that points don't have to start at the bank and go underwater but they can be completely submerged from the old creek.. But is it worth it to fish.. say across.. a straight creek?  Or position over the creek and fish up and down it?

 

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have you ever tried fishing near the dam? Usually you can find deeper water there. Also, did you ever consider that the "small fuzzy blobs" on your finder, may actually be fish suspended and inactive? Im no electronics expert by any means, but you stated that your transducer is mounted sideways. Again no expert here but, Maybe if you turned it so its pointed in the same direction of your yaks nose it may provide a different view. Ive always mounted any transducer facing forward. and have no idea whether it makes a difference or not. I do know that my finders have a depth setting, if yours does as well,.. set it to the shallowest setting you can get away with. And, you can most likely get a manual for your finder online. 

 To me?,..to fish such a body of water? with so much like depth and stained or dark water would be a herculean task. I get alot of clear waters up here, and varying terrain. So although shallow water fishing is a breeze, the deeper water fishing isnt and Im forced to using my finder alot, Nonetheless, Id "think" with all those trees, the edges of them would depict some deeper water. Also I noticed that alot of the "boat travel lanes" are close to shore, these as well should be deeper waters, and Im thinking these are old channels.

   What I would do is "bulge" a spinnerbait around all those tree edges, and any visible cover in the boat lanes, to locate fish, then target them with a bottom bouncer. Searching such a shallow body of water with a bottom bouncer could take you a awful long time before finding the better areas. You can also "search" with a jerkbait or crankbait but with all those trees? A spinnerbait can be your best friend here. Every Tv show I ever saw, beit:  Jimmy Houston, Hank, Roland, or even Bassmasters that were on such a lake? they searched with a spinnerbait, and followed up in the best areas with a Texas rigged worm, or a jig and pig. 

 Just an obseravtion, hope this helps some

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Read all I needed read & seen all I needed to see!

Back to basics

Simply put structure is the shape/contour of the bottom of a body of water.

It can be abrupt changes or sutble changes like you described.

Now that you've found the structure you'll need to find breaks/break lines next.

Once you've found the breaks/break lines start looking at cover.

Now where's the bait & bass. ;)

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Right or wrong, I'd head toward the bridge at the mouth of the dam cove and check that area out. Drop shots and t-rigs. 

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Hamma - I am definitely going to check out the dam area as well.  There is a creek channel that runs from the 89 bridge to the dam so I want to get the finder on all that.

To clarify, I don't think my transducer is mounted sideways, it just attaches to a track ball thing that is on the side of the kayak, but it is designed to hang straight down.  I believe the thing I'm realizing from all the replys here is that I only see a very small cone to the bottom directly beneath me.. And maybe those odd fuzzy shapes are just a portion of the bait fish (or suspended fish) or whatever it is.

My depth setting, or lower range is 15 ft.  Since the deepest I believe in the entire lake is the 89 bridge area around 12-14ft

Spinnerbaits are one of my favorites, And I'm just now realizing to never retrieve just straight and steady.  But making it dance or bulge or "killing it" or slow rolling, etc.

Todd2- Same day I go back to the dam, I'm graphing the whole channel to the bridge.. I plan to graph as much or more than I actively fish.

Also downloaded my particular finder's online manual just now :)

Catt - I got below saved just gotta keep reading it until memorized and then find it out there :ph34r:

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, composition, or cover transition".

I just pulled the trigger on Spoonplugging:  Your guide to Lunker Catches earlier tonight :)

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Your 200 kHz 2D sonar coverage is a little more that 1/3 the depth. That would be about 3' in 10' of depth. The 455 kHz sonar coverage is about 1/2 of that. The sonar pulse is sort of an inverted cone shape, more depth=more coverage.

Using 455 kHz DI, your left to right coverage would be a little more than the depth or 10' of left to right coverage in 10' of depth. The Imaging pulse is very thin front to back, a few inches, and wide to the sides. Think of it as a CAT scan that hospitals use. If you use 800 kHz, its coverage is about 1/2 of the 455 kHz coverage. For the Imaging to work correctly the transducer wide end has to face forward and narrow temp sensor end facing rearward.

DITrans.jpg

Turn FishID on and take advantage of that fishing tool. You will get symbols for fish that are about 1# and larger.

 

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Wayne P.. well heck I'm pretty sure I have always been putting that narrow end forward and wide end rear-ward 

I will have to correct that thanks!

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I take that back, I had it facing the way you describe.  Took it out this evening and piddled around some.  

I got a lot of learning to do on that.

Starting to see it's not all that useful in 5 ft of water lol.. and my lake averages 4ft.

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Wait.. Are you guys suggesting he mount his transducer backwards? :huh:

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On 9/15/2016 at 8:21 AM, Wayne P. said:

For the Imaging to work correctly the transducer wide end has to face forward and narrow temp sensor end facing rearward.

DITrans.jpg

 

 

My question wasn't intended as an insult, sorry if it came off that way.  This is what you posted.  This is suggesting aiming the wide end of the transducer forward, no? This would also indicate the opposite of the picture I posted, showing the narrow, more streamlined end of the transducer facing forward.  If that isn't what you meant, I'm genuinely sorry, but your above quote sounds a lot like facing the transducer backwards.  

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On ‎9‎/‎15‎/‎2016 at 4:52 PM, bchase44 said:
4 hours ago, Turkey sandwich said:
22 hours ago, Turkey sandwich said:

Wait.. Are you guys suggesting he mount his transducer backwards? :huh:

My question wasn't intended as an insult, sorry if it came off that way.  This is what you posted.  This is suggesting aiming the wide end of the transducer forward, no? This would also indicate the opposite of the picture I posted, showing the narrow, more streamlined end of the transducer facing forward.  If that isn't what you meant, I'm genuinely sorry, but your above quote sounds a lot like facing the transducer backwards.  

 

4 hours ago, Turkey sandwich said:

My question wasn't intended as an insult, sorry if it came off that way.  This is what you posted.  This is suggesting aiming the wide end of the transducer forward, no? This would also indicate the opposite of the picture I posted, showing the narrow, more streamlined end of the transducer facing forward.  If that isn't what you meant, I'm genuinely sorry, but your above quote sounds a lot like facing the transducer backwards.  

Wayne P.. well heck I'm pretty sure I have always been putting that narrow end forward and wide end rear-ward 

I will have to correct that thanks!

I you would have read the transducer installation instructions and attached the transom bracket, you would have seen it would be physically impossible to attach it to the transom of a boat with the transducer backwards.

 

Turkey sandwich, your picture is irrelevant, obviously you don't know what a Down Imaging transducer looks like. I posted a picture of a Down Imaging transducer XNT 9 DI T from the Humminbird website that bchase44 has for this Down Imaging unit stated in the second paragraph, second sentence of the OP.

I have one on my boat and one on my desk.

 

 

 

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I fish a shallow lake with irrigation ditches . Max depth 5 foot . The best fishing by far is the cover close to the max depth .

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