Bassin' a Lake for the First Time
Bassin' a Lake for the First Time|
Rob Gleason (Robbie G)
Catch-N Tackle & Bio Bait
Ever looked at a lake on a drive by or on a map and decided to give that lake a try for some bass? I have and continue to do. You never know when you can find your next honey hole. I have written down a few tips to try and help you make the time on the water better.
The first thing I do is try and locate a map of this lake. I own a few map books but I also use the DNR lake finder feature on their web site. It gives you the latest info on fish netting, stocking, and also will give you a lake map. These maps can be printed and used. Looking at the maps I look for standard structure. Reeds, points, sunken islands, quick depth changes, etc. These areas will always hold bass depending on the conditions. I will hi light these areas with a marker to help me remember them when I am out on the water. I also have purchased a few plastic sleeves to put these maps in so they won't get ruined by water from that big bass splashing right next to the boat. The DNR info is also going to tell you important things like water clarity, bottom content, and maximum depth of weed growth. These items will help you choose the color and type of lures you want to rig up on your rods.
When I get to the lake my first step is to always take a look at the landing. By looking at the landing you can generally tell how nice it is to land your boat, the water color, some indication of weed growth, and it also gives you a chance to talk to any fishermen coming in or going out. Once I am on the water I am not afraid to survey the land a little. Does the lake contain milfoil, reeds, many docks, rocky shoreline areas, etc. Take a shot around the lake or the area you plan to fish to get a good mental picture of what type of fishing you expect to do.
When fishing a lake for the first time I like to go right away to my confidence baits. They are buzz baits and Texas rigged worms. I firmly believe that every time out I am gonna catch fish on these baits. I then look for areas that I think are good for the baits I want to fish. For example I notice a shoreline that has some fallen timber in the shallows and than some milfoil starting at about 4' and running to 8' deep. I would probably choose to throw buzz baits to the shallows and run them over the milfoil tops. Or I could go to the outside edge of the milfoil and look for inside turns and funny weed lines that hold fish that would like my T rigged worms. Docks are also another area to look for shallower fish by skipping a T-rigged tube or worm under them. I also have had great luck burning buzz baits by dock edges.
I also like to do alot of site fishing if I am on new water. A good pair of fishing glasses really helps out this process and allows you to see the fish better. It is an investment that I am glad I made. When site fishing I look for active fish. Fish cruising the shallows are usually looking for a meal or guarding nests depending on the time of year. It can also give you a indication if the big fish are in shallower or out deeper. I am not afraid to throw these fish a worm to see if they are willing to get hooked. I generally go away from big splashy spooky baits in the shallows. I want to catch fish rather than scare them.
If these shallower areas are not producing fish I am going to look for outside weed edges. When looking for these edges I look for inside turns, funny indents or points coming out, and abrupt weed edge stops. These areas generally have a few things in common. They have access to deeper water where the fish can go to hide and they are a signal of structure changes. Alot of times if you find one fish on the edges you will find more. They tend to school up nicely on these areas. I like to throw t-rigged worms and bounce jigs in these areas. Other deep areas I like to fish are mid lake humps. When I encounter other fisherman in these areas alot of them think I am fishing 'eyes and are surprised when I pull a nice bass out of 15' of water. I love to fish cranks and jigs in these areas. They can be bass killers in this deeper water.
All in all do not be afraid to hit many spots on a lake and try different bait and color combinations. Also do not give up on a lake if your first outing isn't great, in fact many pro's will struggle if they are asked to fish a lake for the first time. Why do you think they let you pre fish for tournaments?
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