Fishing structure vs cover
THE DIFFERENCE: approach, boat position and baits
YES there is a difference and yes you need to know the difference!! Both require a different approach, a different boat position and a different selection of baits definitely come into play. You need to understand what you are fishing, interpret accordingly and execute with intent.
So how do you make the differentiation? Simple, structure is the variation found in the topography of a lake or dam. These variations include contour changes, river channels and humps. Cover is the physical growth or habitat found within a body of water, namely vegetation, timber and rock. Cover plays an extremely vital role in attracting baitfish and other fodder to an area, in turn determining the population of bass an area will support. Therefore your main objective is locating the convergence point between structure and cover, this is the sweet spot!!
In targeting structure, you need to position your boat in a way that ensures you are effectively covering as much water as possible while pinpointing the fish’s exact location. A parallel approach is your most productive way of targeting contour changes such as break lines or river channels.
Positioning your boat along the contours makes isolating that magic depth reasonably predictable. I will normally start my hunt on a drop-off with a fast-moving, deep-diving crankbait. This puts any active fish in the boat and by changing the angle of my cast to the deeper contour, gives away the position of any suspended fish. Once I have made a few mental notes with my primary approach, I will slow down slightly with a slow-rolled spinnerbait. The effective zones will now be bombarded with my yo-yo style retrieve, once again making sure any fish suspended just off the bottom are not being ignored.
If my offerings are not quite forcing the bites I am looking for, I will break all my rules and resort to a Carolina Rig or Drop-Shot Rig. If you approach every break-line with a similarly planned attack, making sure you mentally record the depth of each bite, I guarantee you will put a higher percentage of these fish in the boat.
When it comes to humps, your angle of approach is vital. Once again I will start with crankbait and fire it at the structure from every available angle until the fish react, and then repeat. By chang- ing angles you are targeting, first of all, a different section of the structure, as well as mixing up the depths at which your crankbait runs.
Your crank will bottom out on the hump and when thrown to either side of the zone will mop up any suspended fish hovering off the edges. Sometimes, Bass just want a crank at a particular angle, so make sure you are always experimenting. Should there be no takers, once again let the plastics double check!! Not all structure is created equal, as mentioned, the combination of structure and cover is what you should really be looking for as well as structure within structure. What I mean by this is the meeting point or influence of more than one type of structure, for instance a hump adjacent to a river channel or an intersection between a creek channel and a main channel.
My next column will take you through the variations of cover found in our local dams and how to best approach them.
So get out on the lake and catch some Bass, and remember to release your catch alive to prolong the sustainability of our resource! E-mail me with reports, pictures and questions at email@example.com
Catch em’ up.
Zayne Kemp with a Healthy Inanda Bass caught off a shallow break line.