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Fishing Rivers Under Lakes

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><> ><>       BASS MATTERS - October 4, 2006         ><> ><> 

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Hello Anglers,

Top-waters are best when fished around heavy cover. Look for 
areas that have fallen trees, grass, bullrushes or even an 
old boat dock. If you become adept at throwing the lures 
around this type cover with good accuracy, you will catch 
many fish. Open-water areas surrounded by submerged grass 
can be an excellent place to have a bass crash your lure. 

P.S. You can discuss this issue or any other topic in the new 
Bass Matters forum. Check it out here...

Bass Matters Forum

Enjoy a week of fishing!
email Brock

Fishing Rivers Under Lakes
By Russ Bassdozer

Actually, many lakes we fish are not lakes. They're impound-
ments. Originally, river drainage systems that have been 
dammed by humanity.

A golden concept that applies to impoundments year-round but 
especially each spring is this: Fish impoundments as if they 
still are the original rivers. This means targeting the 
locations that were active flowing parts of the original 
river system before being dammed by man.

Even though their banks may have been overflowed and flooded 
over decades ago, the age-old creek channels and feeders can 
still be important to the bass. The creeks and gulches and 
washes and trickles were the oases of life before being 
flooded by the dam - and may still be the meccas of mother-
lodes of fish.

Although buried under water now, the riverine environment is 
still intact under the impoundment, and the bass still use 
the impoundment as if it still is a river system.

A river system (and hence an impoundment) is a mesh of 
countless connecting feeder veins and water flows of the 
following exemplary types which you should learn to recognize 
and target. Some of the larger constructs can be recognized
from far away, and may extend down into the impoundment from 
far back on the adjacent land. Some of the smaller constructs 
often have an additional traipse of garnishy greenery on the 
way down to the shoreline, which is a surefire cue to a few 
water veins that fish like gold veins.

However, many original river features may be far offshore 
underwater now, and spottable only on a map (more on maps 

Here are some of the key river constructs underneath an 

MAJOR CONFLUENCES. Where two rivers or streams that rarely 
dry meet (or would have met if they were not flooded under 
water by man). Confluences can be great summer and fall 
staging spots for bass.
PERENNIALS. These are more or less steady creeks that never 
completely dry up or only stop flowing during the very 
driest spells. These usually have silty flood plain deltas 
in the back, and may be marshland or flooded brush basins 
in the back.

NON-PERENNIALS. These are where an intermittent creek or 
wash, which may have been dry for most of the season, is now 
underwater. The confluences where non-perennial or lesser 
side creek would have met a stream or bigger creek - some of 
these MINOR CONFLUENCES can be great winter or summer deep-
water holding areas for bass.

SEASONAL INFLOWS. Places that don't flow year-round but 
bring water in predominantly during the snow-melt season 
and/or only during the rainy or monsoon season. Snow-melt is 
more "systemic" and runs off from deeply-saturated grounds 
whereas rainy season inflows can often be but are not 
necessarily shallower surface ground run-offs. In other 
words, snow versus rain water may not necessarily journey 
across the same terrain nor enter the impoundment at the 
same places.

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INCIDENTAL INFLOWS. Places that usually do not flow but only 
convey excess water as a result of heavy downpour or flash 
flood incidents. These can come from high ground, and may 
result in temporary waterfalls or spills. The area may be 
highly dangerous to approach on rainstorm forecast days or 
during the wet or flood season, but during dry and stable 
conditions, you may find a sand or sediment delta and 
washed-in debris deposits at the base. Sure spots for bass.

SEEPS AND SPRINGS. Water squeezed out of rocks or coming out 
of the ground. Actually, I don't think such water gets wrung 
right out of the rocks, but squeezed between the thin space 
between two layers of rocks. Nevertheless, even such 
innocuous "drip rocks" seem to have enhanced food chains on 
and about the drips - more terrestrials, insects, moss, algae 
- and right on up the food chain that ultimately attracts 

SHINING SAND OR WET SPOTS. I'd hardly call these any sort of 
serious water inflow, but still bass have an uncanny affinity 
for such areas, especially in the spring. Usually, they're a 
dimple or depression in the back of a bowl or a teacup-type 
sand flat. They may be the last spot of shoreline to dry 
after a rain, or the last spot to stay wet as lake water 
levels decline. A good way to notice them is simply sun 
reflection shining off wet sand rimming the shoreline - or a 
darker, damp tongue of dirt impressed on an otherwise drying 
shore. Upon closer inspection, the spot may reveal an old 
channel cut either coming out of or bending in close to the 

I may have lost many readers here with the drip rocks, 
shining sand and wet spots - but hopefully at least a few of 
you are nodding wisely about these heretofore undocumented 
bass hotspots in every impoundment.

Some of these spots, the smaller ones, are only recognizable 
from a certain angle, and you really do get better at spot-
ting them with experience. Often times, on a steep shoreline, 
such spots can be more easily seen far up the land mass, and 
then traced down to where their journey descends into the 


Maps can be extremely important and often are the only way 
to get a full picture of the rivers and creeks still flowing 
under and into an impoundment.

Impoundments can range from several hundred acres to several 
hundred miles long. On some of the smaller impoundments, map 
availability may be limited.

On the larger impoundments, new and different maps can be 
ferreted out readily - and each new map has a habit of show-
ing different creeks, different inflows than the other maps. 
Not just fishing, boating and topo maps, but shoreline 
camping/hiking maps/books often note or describe water flows
not documented elsewhere. I've come across snow melt maps, 
rainy season drainage maps, water rights usage maps,
environmental impact statement maps, even forestation/
vegetation density maps can give clues to creeks and water 
seeps. Bottom line, most every map I come across on a large 
impoundment may reveal yet another feeder creek clue or 
riverine perspective not previously marked on other maps.

Now, never go target any of these areas while they are still 
gushing or spewing water or even soggy rain-drenched - and 
most of the time, most places, they probably aren't like 
that. But I take great caution to avoid any such areas while 
they are gushing or active or rain-drenched or whenever 
inclement weather advisories are broadcast for an area, since 
the land around them (which may be above you) seems to have 
a higher chance to be unstable when wet - as in landslides, 
rock slides, cliff walls falling, and flash flood surges of 
uncontrollable dangerous water can enter an impoundment from 
rainstorms happening many miles away.

Always keep in mind, if your favorite lake was once a river, 
it probably still fishes like a river. Many anglers I've met 
never realize this about impoundments. Much of the rest of 
an impoundment (which was formerly dry ground) may be a 
poorer fishing prospect at times, although the original river 
and all its tributaries and veins still teem with life. In a 
very real sense, even though dammed by humanity, the original 
rivers remain the oases of life, and the connecting mesh of 
hidden underwater creek channels are often the premier places 
to be for bass.

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        GopherCentral's Question of the Week
Colin Powell recently revealed that he was fired by 
President Bush. Do you agree that this was a good decision?

Question of the Week

                  FISHING JOKES CORNER

An Italian fellow took his mother fishing on a party boat 
for Fluke one day. After drifting for hours without even a 
nibble his mother hooks into one. Everyone on the boat was 
excited, cheering the old women on and telling her to take 
her time. 

Finally she lifted it into the boat, picked up the fish, 
removed the hook, looked at it up and down, and then tossed 
it back into the water. 

Stunned, her son says, "Mama why did you throw that fish 
back into the water?"

She replied, "I don't know, to me it just didn't look fresh." 

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