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Publication: Bass Matters
How to Fish Bare Banks

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><> ><>        BASS MATTERS - June 7, 2006           ><> ><> 
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        * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * 

Hello Anglers,

Some people insist on fishing deep water during the summer, 
but deep fishing is not always the key to catch monster 
summer bass. Shallow tributaries and bays can hold plenty 
of hot water bass action. Weeds provide cover and forage 
for bass including crayfish, minnows, and bluegill. Weeds 
also help filter the water and pump needed oxygen into the 
water. 

Remember you can comment on any story or read comments   
by visiting: Bass Matters Blog

Enjoy a week of fishing!
Brock
email Brock


How to Fish Bare Banks

Bare banks can rightfully be called the "Cinderella 
structure" of bass fishing. These places can be sleepers. 
Bass use them despite the lack of obvious features. And 
because there aren't many features, the ones that are there 
have the potential to draw in a lot of fish.

Overview Of Bare Banks: Bare banks exist in virtually all 
reservoirs and lakes in the country. They are void stretches 
of clay, sand, mud or gravel or composites of these materials. 
Bare banks may border creek embayments, main river channels 
or islands. Some run for short distances; others stretch for 
hundreds of yards. Still, the thread that ties all bare banks 
together is their lack of obvious features. The degree to 
which bass use bare banks varies from lake to lake and even 
from one bank to the next. 

Bare banks in deeper and/or older lakes tend to attract more 
fish than do similar banks in shallow, newer lakes. The 
latter waters usually have other, higher quality structure 
to draw the fish. Bare banks aren't as important in lakes 
that have timber or grass or lots of up and down bottom 
structure. 

Even in lakes with plenty of other structure, some bare 
banks still hold bass, and these can be honey holes because 
they are rarely fished. The only way to learn which banks 
are good is to test fish them. This takes a lot of time, 
and this is why fishing bare banks is more practical for 
anglers on their home lakes than for pros who move around 
from one lake to the next. 

Bass are more prone to hold along bare banks during seasonal 
migrations. The best time to fish these banks are spring and 
fall. In spring, the bass move into the creeks to spawn, and 
a lot of times they follow banks back to shallow water. And 
in the fall, shad swim into the creeks, and bass come in 
behind them. 

Much of the feeding activity during September and October 
takes place close in to shore. Sometimes bass also feed 
along bare banks in summer and winter, usually in main lake 
areas where wind or currents push shad up shallow. So bare 
banks have the potential to produce fish all year long. 
Wind is one of the main keys. 

Fishing along a bare bank is 100 times better if there's a 
wind blowing on it, especially on a clear lake. The waves 
'blow in' baitfish. They stir up the bottom and expose craw-
fish. They break up sunlight penetration. Overall, wind 
blowing on a bare bank creates prime feeding conditions, and 
it causes the bass to be shallower and more active. 

One more note about bare banks: They hold an extra attract-
ion to smallmouth and spotted bass. If a lake only have 
largemouths, plain banks will be good sometimes. But is 
spotted and smallmouth are present, they can be great 
virtually anytime. 

Bass Locations Along Banks: Actually, the term "bare banks" 
contradicts the actual makeup of these void looking struct-
ures. A bank may look bare if you're running down the lake 
at 50 mile per hour. But if you stop and really study and 
fish it, there's almost always something that will attract 
bass. 

It's just a matter of knowing what to look for and how to 
find it. You can find bass near subtle changes or isolated 
features along bare banks. Examples include where a bank's 
makeup changes (i.e., gravel gives way to clay), where a 
creek channel swings near the bank, where a bank becomes 
flatter or steeper, or where a bank makes a slow turn. 

Also, underwater features along a bank are like beacons that 
draw bass. A stump. log or large rock can have a magnetic 
effect on fish swimming alongshore. Also, a lot of people 
sink brushpiles along bare banks. A brushpile along a bank 
that doesn't have any other features is almost a sure bet to 
draw some fish, plus it's not as likely to be found by other 
fishermen because of the lack of fishing pressure. 

Knowing 
what to look for along bare banks and being able to find 
these spots are two different matters. A visual check is 
simple enough. An angler can see bank composition changes, 
shoreline turns or dark shadows of underwater stumps or 
logs. (Polarized sunglasses are vital in seeing below the 
surface.) 

Continued...

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He can also study a topo map to find where channels angle 
near the bank. However, most fish attracting features along 
bare banks are hidden from view and not shown on maps. 
Fishermen have two methods for finding them: electronic 
inspection with a depthfinder; and test fishing. Start out 
checking a bank by idling along it and watching your depth-
finder. 

Zigzag in and out to scan different depths. Mainly, 
look for cover down the side of the bank, and also watch 
for contour changes and baitfish returns. If a bank is 200 
yards long, cover it all. Then if you see anything that 
looks promising, turn around and fish it. It's common to 
idle part way down a bank and see nothing, then to begin 
detecting features or fish. 

Another approach is to start at one end and fish it all. 
This way you can really cover the whole bank effectively. 
Invest the time to go down it and check different areas and 
depths. That way you can do a thorough job of eliminating 
thinks and develop a reliable pattern. 

As you fish along, constantly monitor your depthfinder for 
objects or changes in the bank's contour. Look for little 
shelves or places where the first break occurs closer to 
the shore. Again, these are the subtle, little changes 
where bass are more likely to be. Sometimes the only way to 
find these places is by fishing the whole bank.

Baits For Bare Banks: For fishing bare banks you can rely on 
a small selection of dependable lures: crankbaits, spinner-
baits, jerkbaits, topwaters, grubs, jigs and plastic worms. 
Diving crankbaits are top choices for prospecting along bare 
banks from early spring through fall. Also, because you can 
cover water quickly with them. 

In addition, you can cast them right to the waterline, then 
bump them back down the bank's subsurface slope. This 
facilitates a check of depths ranging from a few inches to 
deeper than 10 feet. Another good bait for searching bare 
banks in early spring is a jerkbait. Fishing a jerkbait is 
a good way to catch suspended bass.

It's especially effective when the water first starts warm-
ing up (low to mid 40s). When fishing this bait move along 
the bank while making 45 degree casts to the shoreline. Cast 
right to the water's edge, and crank the bait four or five 
times to start it down, then begin a "jerk pause jerk jerk" 
retrieve. Repeat this all the way back to the boat. The 
colder the water, the slower you want to work the bait. 

A spinnerbait is a third option for prospecting along bare 
banks in the prespawn and spawning periods. A spinnerbait 
should be cast shallow, then pulled down the slope with a 
middepth retrieve. Many times, if bass are actively feeding,
they will be drawn in by the flash and vibration, and they 
will hit from below or beside the bait. 

Alternate among crankbaits, jerkbaits and spinnerbaits to 
see which the bass prefer on a given day. This is just a 
matter of trial and error. One day the fish will hug bottom, 
and the diving crankbait works best. The next day they may 
be suspended, and the jerkbait is best. And the third day 
they might be roaming and feeding, and the spinnerbait is 
the trick. 

You just have to analyze the weather and water conditions 
and try to figure out how active the bass are and whether 
they're shallow, deep or suspended. Then pick the bait that 
will work best under those conditions. But if that bait 
doesn't work, try the other two type. Sometimes bass are 
hard to second guess. Jigs, grubs and worms (so called slow 
baits) are deadly along bare banks. 

These baits are good under three distinct circumstances. If 
you're working a shoreline with a crankbait and hit a piece 
of cover without a bite, pick up your jig or worm rod and 
work the cover a little slower and more thoroughly. If the 
bass aren't too active, it's not uncommon for them to pass 
up the crankbait or a spinnerbait but to hit a jig or worm. 
The second case for using a slow bait is when a bank has 
yielded some fish to one of the faster baits, and the angler 
wants to make another pass down the bank and offer remaining 
bass a different option. 

And the third case for using grubs, jigs and worms is when a 
pass down a bank with faster baits yield no action, but the 
angler believes bass are present and just not in a chasing 
mood. Topwaters are excellent baits for fishing bare banks 
after the water temperature rises into the 70s. This is just 
another alternative. 

Topwater baits fished along bare banks early and late in the 
day are a good pattern for heat-of-the-summer fishing. This 
may not be the most consistent pattern in the world, but 
sometimes it will produce some big fish. All in all, despite 
their "non-structure" appearance, bare banks are a viable 
alternative for finding and catching bass. The biggest 
reason is because they're so overlooked by most fishermen. 
And that makes bare banks a secret worth checking.

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                  FISHING JOKES CORNER
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Standing at the edge of the lake, a man saw a woman flailing 
about in the deep water. Unable to swim, the man screamed 
for help. A trout fisherman ran up. The man said, "My wife 
is drowning and I can't swim. Please save her. I'll give 
you a hundred dollars."

The fisherman dove into the water. In ten powerful strokes, 
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Questions? Comments? email: Email brock
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