BASS FISHING DEFINITIONS AND TERMINOLOGY
Compiled by Terry Battisti
Note: The author of this piece gives credit to the inputs of Bass Fishing Home Page regulars Rankbeginner, Pat (PA), ChuckG (CT), BassTaurus (MO), and Bassmare (SC) in its development.
The following is a list of definitions for many of the terms used in fishing. I hope it helps you catch more fish!!!!
Hump: An underwater island that generally rises gradually. On a topographical (topo) map, a hump will be signified by contour lines that make a circle, oval, or other similar shape.
Pinnacle: A very abrupt hump that generally rises from deep water and is very small in area at the top. This is a term mainly used on the West Coast Lakes. On a topo map, a pinnacle looks like a bunch of small circles on top of each other.
Saddle: A thin piece of land that extends out from the shoreline (it can be a visible point or not) and connects to an underwater island or hump. This thin piece of land will dip down in depth before it meets with underwater island where it will again come up in depth thus giving it the name "saddle". On a topo map, the contour lines will appear like an underwater point coming from the shoreline. Out from the shoreline, the lines on each side of the point will get closer and then start getting further apart until they reach the hump or island.
Drop-off: A fast change in depth usually associated with a flat, point, creek channel or all of them. A topo map will show the contour lines close together.
Ledge: A severe drop-off. In my opinion, one that is anywhere from 75 - 90 degrees in angle and lasts more than 20 vertical feet. On a topo map, the contour lines will look as if they are touching each other.
Flat: A bottom that does not change more than a couple feet in depth. The flat can be near the shore or far away from it. A topo map shows the contour lines very far apart.
Point: A shoreline feature where the shoreline makes a turn out into the lake and cuts back on itself forming a peninsula. These can be large main-lake features at the opening of a creek arm or as small as a boat. In natural lakes, a point may not be that obvious. It may only be discernable by weed growth outlining the point underwater. In this case, look at the weeds as if they were the shoreline. On a topo map, the contour lines make a two-sided triangle (for lack of a better term).
Creek or River Channel: In a reservoir, this is where the old river or creek used to be before the lake was inundated. All arms of reservoirs have them and they are the deepest areas if you looked at a cross-section of the arm itself. On a topo map, a hashmarked line generally signifies them. Large rivers also have channels and there is generally a drop-off associated with the edge of the channel from hydraulic motion.
Primary Point: A point that is on the main-lake or is at the entrance to a large cove.
Secondary Point: A point that is inside a cove. They are always smaller than a primary point and further away from the main lake.
Cut: In the West, this is another term for a small deep cove. In a river, it is where the water movement has undercut the bank on an outside bend in the river.
High Tide: The Time in which the tide is the highest.
Low Tide: The time when the tide is the lowest.
Incoming Tide: The time before the high tide in which the tide is coming in.
Outgoing Tide: The time in which the tide is going out.
Slack Tide: The time in which tidal movement is at it's lowest. This happens four times a day at each high and low tide.
Dirty Water: Water that appears green or muddy and has poor visibility. I define it as 6" of visibility or less.
Stained Water: Water that has either a brown or green color to it with limited visibility.
Clear Water: Water with more than 10 feet of visibility.
Mud Line: A line where clear or stained water meets dirty water. Generally caused by winds blowing waves against a muddy shoreline or boat traffic.
Eddy: A place in a river or tidal water where the current rotates back in the upstream direction. This is usually caused by a large rock or point of land. Eddy's can be as large as a big room or as small as a basketball (in the case of small rocks).
Current Seam: The line where a current with little velocity meets up with a current of high velocity. This is generally found in the same area as eddies. Fish stay in the low velocity current and go into the high velocity current when food drifts past.
Staging: A term used to describe what bass are doing in the late winter/early spring with relation to structure. The fish will move up from their deep water winter haunts and will "Stage" on primary points, channel bends, breaks, drop-offs, and secondary points before moving into the shallows. Fish found in staging areas are often very concentrated in a small location on the structure.
Breakline: A breakline can have more than one meaning. It can be another word for a drop-off/ledge or it can be used to describe what part of a weed line the fish are hanging on. For example, a "weed break" is the area of the weed bed where the weeds meet up with open water. Or, one type of weed meets up with another. The last example happens when bottom composition changes as different weeds prefer different types of bottom composition. In rocky impoundments, a breakline can also describe a line where rock meets mud, pea gravel, etc. In other words, the most correct definition for a "breakline" is, "Any distinct line that is made by cover or structure which leads to an abrupt change in bottom depth, composition, or cover transition.
Pea Gravel: Small rock no larger in size than a 1/2 inch in diameter. Areas consisting of pea gravel are good areas to look for spawning bass.
Stick-Ups: Small dead bushes, which are sticking up out of the water. They are found near the shoreline or also on shallow flats. The stick-up are generally no taller than 4 feet.
Oxbow: An offshoot from a river, which creates a shallow, low current body of water that reconnects with the river downstream.
Backwater: an area of a lake or river, which is off the main body of water. Backwaters are generally shallow and difficult to get in to.
Bar: A long strand that is shallower than the surrounding bottom and forms a bar. Bars are mostly found at the mouths of river and generally consist of sand (Sand Bar) or mud (Mud Bar).
Brackish Water: A transition area where water from an ocean or sea meets with freshwater. The area where the two different types of water mix is called "Brackish Water" and is higher in salinity than freshwater and lower in salinity than saltwater.
Cover: Cover consists of weeds, trees, branches, tulles, buck brush, stick-ups, rocks and man-made objects like docks, tires, etc. Cover is often confused with structure. The difference is cover is not geologic in nature. You can also have cover on structure. An example of this would be stick-ups on top of a hump. The stick-ups are the cover and the hump is the structure.
Structure: Geologic in nature, structure can be a permanent breakline like a Rock Break, or a hump, saddle, ledge, flat, river channel, etc.
Weed Mat: Any vegetation in the water that forms a near solid formation on top of the water. Usually this is a good holding area for fish.
Edge: Any place there is an abrupt change in cover or structure (See Breakline). Example where two types of vegetation meet, or a quick drop in bottom depth.
Rip-Rap: A rocky bank that usually is man-made. Often found on points, around overpasses, the front of dams, and in front of shoreline properties. It is generally made of large quarry style rocks.
Chunk Rock: A boulder or above average sized natural rock that distinguishes itself from its surroundings.
Swill Water: The heaviest, nastiest, weedy area in a body of water.
Pre-emergent Vegetation: Aquatic vegetation (plants) that has not reached the waters surface
Emergent Vegetation: Aquatic vegetation that has reached the water's surface and is clearly visible.
Lay-down: Horizontally positioned wood cover that lies nearly parallel to the water surface
Standing timber: Trees still standing in the water. These may be alive (for example, cypress trees) or trees left standing from the initial impoundment that have died (any species possible).
Transition Zone: Any area that consists of a change from one type of structure to another type. (For example, from a rock bluff to a sloped bank).
S-Turn: Where a river run makes an S shape.
Y: A creek channel intersection.
Bottom Transition: Where one type of bottom hardness meets another.
Funnel: Where water is funneled down to pass through a section of land such as between 2 islands or a manmade feature such as a culvert.
Community Hole: Where every body and their brother fishes.
(If you have additions, comments, or questions on the above, please contribute it. Email to email@example.com.
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