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Topo maps and bass fishing

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On an earlier thread, I read several posts of anglers wanting to become more proficient in topo map reading and electronics. I can help.

Topo maps and sonar go hand in hand, one is not as efficient without the other. Topo maps paint a picture of the lake bottom. Electronics paint a very small detailed picture of the lake bottom directly under the boat.

The ideal way to use these two vital tools together is to locate possible hotspots on the topo map, programming the GPS coordinates before heading to the lake. Then, the electronics are used to pinpoint the exact location of the hotspots, and to find any possible bass attracting cover on said hotspot.

To locate hotspots, look for sudden depth changes locating near current in main river and creekchannels. Deep water that quickly rises to shallow water. This provides bass excellent ambush points for feeding, and provides quick access between two preferred bass habitat.

Look for places where main channel current runs into these drop offs.

Look for places that provide bass provide bass protection from current while awaiting schools of baitfish.

An angler that has the skills to use these two tools has a huge advantage over those that can't.

The following is a crossection topo of main lake on one of my favorite large reservoirs to fish, lake West Point in west Georgia. This is a pic of the main channel about mid lake. I got it off this site.

Lake West point is a flood control and power generation reservoir. The main river channel is the Chattachoochie, which also floods Seminole and Lanier reservoirs.


The green and white areas are land. The purple areas are water,  the blue running down the center of the water are river and creek channels, the deepest water, which runs an average of 55' deep through this stretch of lake. The outlines surrounding the shoreline signify changes in elevations or drop offs. The closer these are together, the steeper the drop. The outline closest to the shoreline represents the represents a drop from 10 ft. to 20 ft. approx. The second outline around the shoreline represents the drop from 20-40ft approx.

Now for the hotspots....

1. See the land mass in the top center, Holiday Park? I camped there Memorial day. Follow it's right shoreline, closest to the main river channel.

See the first point that juts out towards the main channel? Notice how the two drop offs are close together? Notice how the main channel swings close to this steep drop? Notice how main lake current runs into this point?

Find stump fields along this point with the electronics, and shazaam. Hotspot.

2. Follow the same shoreline down to the next point. Same thing, but the river channel swings even closer to this point, and the drop off lines run closer together. Good place for spotted bass.

3. Top right of the pic. See Glass Bridge Park. Look at the water between it and Earl Cook park just downriver.

Notice the point coming off Glass bridge downriver where the 10' depth line extends far out into the lake towards Earl Cook?

See the road coming out of Earl Cook, pointing toward Glass bridge? Notice how the 10ft. depth lines seem to follow the path of the road between the two shorelines? That is a roadbed. It is an elevated section of lake bottom surrounded by deeper water.  Notice the small creek channels crossing the roadbed? Hotspot.

4. Bottom right of the pic. See Bird Creek park? See the four points that jut out towards the channel? See how the river channel runs close to the shoreline? See how the depth lines run close together? Hotspot

See the humps in the river channel just off these 4 points? The water goes from 50 ft. and tops out at 12-15ft. on top of those humps.

See the point just downriver from the humps?

5. Dead center of the pic, see Wehadkee creek and the junction with the main channel. Notice how the two opposite 20ft. depth lines neck down close to the creek channel, just up from the intersection?

See the road that runs downriver from Holiday park towards the shoreline across Wehadkee creek? Notice the 10ft. depth lines? Roadbed. See the shallow flat to the right of the roadbed on the Holiday side? See the "S" turn in the creek channel to the left of the roadbed?

Top left of the pic, up Wehadkee creek from the roadbed. See the hump near the creek junctions?

To the right of the roadbed, across Wehadkee creek from Holiday, see the point where the creek channel  comes close to shore. There is a lighted fishing pier on this point.

All hotspots.

All these hotspots share some common traits.

1. All are areas of quick transition from shallow to deep water near main lake current. This creates ambush points near known areas Shad will be traveling, while still having close access to shallow water prey such as bream and yearling cats.

2. All are areas where two or more ideal bottom structures are grouped together in one area.

3. From top of the pic to the bottom represents no more than a 5 minute boat ride in a slow rental pontoon. No matter the time of year or conditions, bass can be caught within this area. Season and conditions will dictate whether they are deep or shallow and wind will add another variable to the equation.  I can never leave this small section of lake and catch bass year round, but there's more.

The topo map site I got this pic from has a feature where you point towards a specfic point with the cursor, and the GPS coordinates are displayed for that spot.

See if you can locate the hotspots..


See the roadbed crossing the channel?


See the 90 degree turn in the main channel at the top of the pic? Notice the feeder creek flowing right into that bend.

See the now flooded pond with the two islands surrounding it? Notice the old pond dam? Really deep water meeting really shallow water.

See the railroad trestle crossing the lake. Just downriver of the trestle is the old trestle, whose top reaches 15' below the surface, and crosses the 50' ft. deep channel. This is crappie structure, but will hold bass

The proper use of electronics would entail locating the exact edges and boundries of the above structure, locating the sweetspots like stumps and brushpiles on these structures, the bottom composition and presence of baitfish on these structures.

I hope this has been a help to those of you who have expressed a desire to make better use of topo maps. I tried to be as clear as possible, and I will be glad to answer any questions.

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Dang Sweetwater, how many words can you type per minute? Thats alot of information! Thanks, its very informitive. ;D

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