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Choporoz

Cruising the Flats

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Largemouth are on the prowl.  Finding baitfish schools isn't all that hard, and covering shallow flats is only moderately more difficult.   But what are your approaches/tactics/secrets when bass are hunting over big, expansive, featureless deeper flats? Feels like playing roulette some fall (and some spring) days.   Hundreds of casts, hoping to smack your crank or spinnerbaits into their nose.

What're your secret tricks?

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I still look for small features that may stick out..........a rock, closer to other depth altering contours, and I use lures that I can work fairly quickly,,,cranks, swimjigs/paddletails, spinnerbaits, in that order. 

But tomorrow I'm going to see what happens with a hardbody swimbait.  Haven't really used them so I'm going to see how I do. 

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Almost any & every "Flat" will have some type of 'irregularity" on it.  Since I often find biters near 'edges' of some kind I prefer to hunt these places down.  

Examples of some of the better ones for me on large flats include but are not limited to isolated weeds clumps,  a small collection of rocks or wood (may only be a few feet wide / long but if it's the only game in town it can hold fish), a depression or small hump, (again may only be 6 inch or a foot change, but they'll use it) one of my favorites is a bottom color change (If the bottom is predominately dark - a light spot could be the deal - vise versa is almost always good for me).  

  

Often bass can & will be right in the middle of some of this stuff - but more often than not - it's 'the edges' that I'll find many of the fish I'm looking for. 

 

 Finally a real wild card here is 'shadow lines' - especially early and later in the day, with the sun low on the horizon - Having deeper water close (relative term) and a shadow line running along the edge or close to a drop can produce.  Percentage of contact on this one seems to go down as the water temps drop away.  But before it gets to cool / cold and the fish are still roaming right up to sunset -  may be worth checking out. 

 

360 & SI has made the hunt for these type places a little easier but it's still somewhat time consuming.  I'll often do it mid-day in the summer - just for a boat ride.  Rather than using precious fishing time during what could be a good bite.  Let the way pointing begin. 

That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

:smiley:

A-Jay

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Add to the above 😉

 

Look at the shape of the flat, very seldom are they square with straight lines.

 

Bottom composition changes, soft bottom flats look for hard spots. Not necessarily rock, pebbles, or gravel; sandy bottoms or clay.

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I’ve never seen a flat that didn’t have a highest point or a lowest point. 

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Currently with the water higher than usual, I found that my local lake has a slightly noticeable current. So I have been targeting the downcurrent side of the flats, and it has been laying off quite well. Especially if you can find a flat or a point near a creek mouth. 

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I have spent countless hours fishing  deep  flats with limited success. Every once in a while ,though, I hook up with a lunker . I simply follow the depth that I think the bait fish are more prevalent  and throw either a crankbait or carolina rig . When and if I   do hook up or find some cover , I toss a buoy  and  fish that area more thoroughly .

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22 hours ago, Choporoz said:

Largemouth are on the prowl.  Finding baitfish schools isn't all that hard, and covering shallow flats is only moderately more difficult.   But what are your approaches/tactics/secrets when bass are hunting over big, expansive, featureless deeper flats? Feels like playing roulette some fall (and some spring) days.   Hundreds of casts, hoping to smack your crank or spinnerbaits into their nose.

What're your secret tricks?

My 'secret trick' is to ignore them and fish elsewhere, assuming they are truly featureless as you say. If they aren't actually featureless, then see A-Jay and Catt's posts. Regardless, I'm not wasting much time on them unless I can quickly eliminate most of the options/water, probably by trolling initially.

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13 minutes ago, Team9nine said:

My 'secret trick' is to ignore them and fish elsewhere, assuming they are truly featureless as you say. If they aren't actually featureless, then see A-Jay and Catt's posts. Regardless, I'm not wasting much time on them unless I can quickly eliminate most of the options/water, probably by trolling initially.

Trolling you say ?  

:smiley:

A-Jay

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50 minutes ago, Team9nine said:

My 'secret trick' is to ignore them and fish elsewhere, assuming they are truly featureless as you say. If they aren't actually featureless, then see A-Jay and Catt's posts. Regardless, I'm not wasting much time on them unless I can quickly eliminate most of the options/water, probably by trolling initially.

Last weekend I did actually try trolling for bass for the first time over some of these areas.  Didn't get a bite.  However, I did a little better by sort of long-lining jerk baits.  I never really read up on long-lining, so I was making it up as I went along....but I'd cast a jerk bait, leave the spool disengaged and troll across flats until most of the spool was let out....and then jerk them back to the boat.  I caught a couple, but not really any more than blindly throwing crankbaits and spinner baits into the void.   Thing is....I caught some decent fish both ways....but it felt as though there must be a much better approach.  Especially maddening when there's big bass crashing the surface every so often....usually in an area I'd just left :)   Never got a single bite on topwater all day, however.

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1 hour ago, Team9nine said:

My 'secret trick' is to ignore them and fish elsewhere, assuming they are truly featureless as you say. If they aren't actually featureless, then see A-Jay and Catt's posts. Regardless, I'm not wasting much time on them unless I can quickly eliminate most of the options/water, probably by trolling initially.

This, but before I leave, I try the steepest drop-off, fished from the flat on up

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I went out today and tried to fish a large featureless flat of deep water without luck.  I then switched to a squarebill and fished it in about 8 feet of water right where it drops off to 20+ feet and did extremely well. The squarebill dives to about 5 feet so the bass were sitting right on the edge of the drop and coming up to hit it. 

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A-Jay and Catt covered this topic.

You can only fish large flat areas if the lake has them and where I fish they don't exist.

The only lake that I fish occasionally fish is Clear lake that has large flats in the north basin area that cover several miles of flats in anywhere from 2' to 8' deep. 

I look for something like a rock pile or fence row one poles on a map or visually in lieu of trying to search featureless flat bottom areas. My best fish locators in the fall are western and pied bill grebes, birds that feed on Shad.

Tom

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5 hours ago, Team9nine said:

My 'secret trick' is to ignore them and fish elsewhere, assuming they are truly featureless as you say. If they aren't actually featureless, then see A-Jay and Catt's posts. Regardless, I'm not wasting much time on them unless I can quickly eliminate most of the options/water, probably by trolling initially.

 

Sometimes it pays to turn the down imaging/side imaging off & switch to an overhead view.

 

What structure is close by?

What cover exist or is close by?

Then we have to consider not all structure holds fish.

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Someone a lot wiser at structure fishing than me once said, "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 bass."

 

To properly understand a flat or any piece of structure for that matter we need to know how it relates to the structure around it. 

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@Catt, I'm a student of your structure teachings (or preachings?)  I think about things you emphasize nearly every time on the water.  But, I have trouble applying them at times like now when many bass are aggressively feeding, but over a vast expanse of (mostly?) featureless water; no weeds, no wood, no rocks, no roadbeds, no fences...nothing....I assume it was fields before the dams, 100, and 70 years ago.  There's acres and acres of flats, some 12', some 17'.  I never find them schooling or hunting in packs -- they are all over the place, constantly moving (and feeding, I assume.)   I catch some of them, but it feels like shooting in the dark most of the time.

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1 hour ago, Choporoz said:

I never find them schooling or hunting in packs -- they are all over the place, constantly moving (and feeding, I assume.)   I catch some of them, but it feels like shooting in the dark most of the time.

 

The bass are moving from somewhere outside the flat, knowing this may give you an idea of high percentage areas. 

 

Often times bass do things that make no sense to me, at these times I just roll with it.

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By featureless are you saying just strictly hard or sand bottom, with no grass?  If grass is present a swimbait or rattletrap that lets you cover as much of the area as possible would be my go to.

 

Totally devoid of anything, I've never fished in freshwater.  I do have experience with that in salt water however, and finding birds like @WRB said is probably the best approach.  If they're feeding it's because predators are pushing the bait high enough into the water column for the birds to spot.  

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Bass (LMB, SMB, Spots) don't migrate away from thier prey source unless it's to spawn.

If groups of bass are hunting flats it's because the prey is there and bass are following it. Schools of baitfish migrate because thier food source, plankton, is moving or the cover is dieing off. Find the bait and the bass will be close by. The reason I look for birds is they can find the baitfish because it's their food source.

My preference is to fish where crawdads are located if possible, they don't move very far and bass eat them year around.

Tom 

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I agree with Team9 and mostly avoid them now days . But if I'm fishing an electric motor only lake which I do a lot , I fish from spot to spot I might as well follow the contour lines and fish them .

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In South Florida we have massive flats a consistent 3 to 5 feet deep. Our flats are are full of vegetation that covers almost every inch of the bottom and sometimes all the way to the top.  The bass love these areas and so do the fisherman.  Many of our tournaments are won in the flats, pitching and flipping baits.  Many will throw vibrating baits like swim baits, U-Vibes, chatterbaits, and spinnerbaits.  Baits that will call them out of their grass hiding spots, and finally noisy top water baits.  This is far different then your original scenario, but still a flat, and still an area loaded with bass of all sizes.

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