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Jim Porter

The following is a short list of 'truisms' regarding bass fishing structure. They have been found to be accurate in lakes, rivers, and ponds, and even in saltwater use. If any are unclear, please consider re-reading the accompanying article. To become fully proficient as a structure angler, each element must be readily understood and practiced.

Future articles on the various details of these 'truisms' will follow on fishing-hunting.com

The angler should understand 'structure' versus 'cover'.
  • The terms 'cover' and 'structure' are NOT synonymous. They are different features.
  • Cover is for hiding; structure is for feeding.
  • The potential of a given structure feature can be reasonably determined by:1) the nearby availability of 25 feet or more of depth; 2) and, the 'steepness' of the drop-off associated with the access to that depth.
  • Structure, even if it consists of weeds, brush or timber, is not used to hide the bass, nor is it used for his protection. A productive structure feature is one, which provides ready availability of food or serves as a reference point during periods of inactivity.
  • When a bass experiences fear or senses danger, his instinctive reaction is to dash for the deep water near his structure or cover area.
  • Unless actively feeding, a bass will nearly always hold near the edge of the structure drop into deep water.
Of all available structure features, ledges and drops are the most common AND the most continuously productive.
  • A 'drop' is a contour change resulting in deeper water and has a downward angler of decent of 30 degrees, or more. Any change less than 30 degrees is considered a slope and will not be as productive.
  • A 'ledge' is the upper lip, or edge, of a drop.
  • While ledges and drops usually exist throughout a body of water, those associated with submerged channels and the deepest water in the area are always the more consistently productive.
'Pattern depth' is a term used to define the location (depth) the majority of bass schools can be expected to be found in a given body of water.
  • It is dependent upon the coloration/ clarity of the water.
  • The 'pattern depth' of the normal, lightly stained reservoir is 12-18 feet.
  • The clearer the water, the greater the 'pattern depth'.
Evaluating and selecting structure is a four step process:
  1. Consider the season, weather and probable bass activity.
  2. Determine the approximate 'pattern depth'.
  3. Using a map, identify and prioritize selected structure.
  4. Perform an on-the-water evaluation of the prioritized locations, identify significant features and re-prioritize.


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