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Publication: Bass Matters
Rocky Cover in Clear Water

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><> ><>       BASS MATTERS - September 27, 2006      ><> ><> 

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Hello Anglers,

When landing a fish you wish to release, don't use a landing 
net. This can damage the fishes slim protection. It is best 
to handle the fish as little as possible and return them to 
the water as quickly as possible. I alway get mad when I see
fishing shows on television where the host gently sets his 
fish back in the water but insist on rubbing as much slim as 
possible off the fish as it swims away, maintaining contact 
for as long as possible.

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

Rocky Cover In Clear Water
From Extreme Bass Lures

Given a choice of fishing cover, many anglers would choose 
weeds first, wood second and rock third. Lakes with a 
prevalence of rock cover are tough to fish. Here's why:

• Rocky lakes are typically less fertile than woody or weedy 
lakes, meaning there's relatively little plankton in the 
water. Baitfish may not be abundant, and the bass population 
may be considerably thinner than in other types of lakes.

• Rocky lakes are often very clear, and clear water 
confounds many bass anglers. Time to put away the heavy 
baitcasting gear and break out those spinning rods and 
finesse lures.

• Rocky lakes often lack extensive shoreline cover, so 
pounding the banks can be fruitless. Much of the bass 
population may live offshore and deeper than in weedy or 
woody lakes.

Qualities of Rock Cover: Think of rocks as storage lockers. 
When you or I get hungry, we raid the refrigerator. When 
forage species in rocky lakes are hungry, they find a cache 
of food around rocks. When a bass dies in a rocky lake it 
sinks to the bottom and decomposes. Organic matter becomes 
trapped between the rocks. Crawfish scavenging among the 
rocks feed on this organic matter. In addition, the rocks 
develop a slimy coating of algae, creating a veritable 
pasture for game fish fry and various baitfish species. 

Larger bass and other predators approach these rocks because 
of the rock's attraction to forage species. Rock, unlike 
weeds, cannot produce oxygen. Rock, unlike wood, doesn't 
rot. Rock just sits there. It's inert. Yet it functions as 
a food storage locker and a growing surface for algae, which 
are vital to the food chain. Nature's edges - those places 
where one type of environment meets another - attract bass. 

Weedlines and stump rows are common examples of edges in the 
lakes we've already studied. Rock edges are naturally harder. 
Bass can swim deep into the grass on one side of a weedline, 
and can move around stumps on a flat. But they can't swim 
through rock. Thus, rocky banks and bluffs concentrate large 
numbers of bass. Once you know their depth, it's relatively 
easy to catch them.

Patterning Rocky Lakes: Nowhere is patterning more important 
than on rocky lakes. Unless you know what kind of rock the 
bass are using, and how deep they're using it, you may go 
for days without a strike. Patterning bass on rocky lakes, 
though tough, is not impossible. Here are some tips:

1. Categorize rocks by size. As you cruise the lake, you'll 
notice banks having big boulders on them, others gravel, 
still others fist-sized rock. All produce bass at one time 
or another. The most consistent action year-round, however, 
is generally found on fist to softball sized rock. Rocks 
this size have enough surface for plenty of algae and 
enough space between them to trap large quantities of 
organic matter. 

They also have enough space between them to make it 
relatively easy for bass to root out crawfish. A crawfish 
burrowing in gravel may be hard for a bass to catch. But the 
spawning urge in the spring will override concerns about 
eating. Smallmouth bass spawn on gravel, so always target 
this rock when you're after this species.

2. Since rocky lakes are clear, use lures that strongly 
mimic the forage living in them, mainly crawfish and school-
ing baitfish. Keep in mind that crawfish are highly nocturnal,
staying in hiding during daylight hours and emerging at 
night. Crawfish-imitating lures are often most productive 
after dark. Forage fish are usually silvery in color, so use
plenty of chrome or silver minnow lures dining the day.

3. Bass in rocky lakes are likely to be much deeper, on the 
average, than their counterparts in weedy or woody lakes. 
This is because of the water clarity and lack of bass-hiding 
cover in shallow water typical of rocky lakes. Bass are 
likely to be shallowest in the spring, simply because they 
spawn where sunlight can incubate their eggs. Look for 
largemouth in creek arms in 1 to 3 feet of water and small-
mouth on mainlake flats and bars 5 to 15 feet deep. 

In summer, bass may be extraordinarily deep, and often 
suspend over deep channel structure. Consequently, now is a 
fine time to try deep trolling, because lure casting may be 
next to impossible. In fall, look for bass suspending off 
steep bluffs and 45 degree sloping rock banks. They may be 
10 feet deep early in the morning and 40 feet by noon. 
Target deep points and sloping banks.

Rocky Targets: Gravel banks typically have a low slope. You 
may have to travel 50 yards on a gravel bank to find a 5 
foot depth increase or decrease. This means organic matter 
stays put in gravel, so crawfish often are present. Bass 
prefer banks with a gradual slope in spring; smallmouth bass 
spawn on gravel. Gravel banks are less productive in summer
and winter, when bass like deeper structure. Points in rocky 
lakes are extremely important structures much of the year. 
Because there's so little shallow shoreline cover, bass 
suspend in open water and use points as contact structures 
when moving into and out of the shallows. 


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Points often consist of gravel or fist sized rock mixed with 
mud or clay. In spring, bass may spawn on long, shallow 
points. In summer, they'll prowl deep points that cascade 
into deep creek and river channels (especially at night). 
In fall, they'll again be on slow tapering points, especial-
ly when a strong wind blows against these structures. And 
in winter, they'll be on deep, fast tapering points. Bluffs 
indicate the presence of a creek or river channel. 
Consequently, there may be some current along a bluff and, 
as a result, more highly-oxygenated water. Schools of bait-
fish suspend close to bluffs while crawfish lurk hi the 
rock rubble at the base. 

Bluffs are especially good for spotted bass, which show a 
strong preference for steep vertical structure. Boulders are 
big rocks that have broken off a bluff or other nearby rock 
structure. Where rock are partially submerged, they'll 
attract birds and insects. Where totally submerged, they're 
"rest areas" for baitfish schools traveling along bluffs and 
river channels. Boulders provide shade, making them good 
places for bass to hide when not actively feeding. Shale, a 
unique form of rock, is found in highland reservoirs. Shale 
banks, when pounded by waves, will break up quickly, creat-
ing a bed of flaky rock beneath the water. 

Crawfish burrow into the beds to forage and hide. Shale 
banks and points are excellent smallmouth bass structures 
in summer, fall and winter. Shoals commonly occur in rivers 
and are typically composed of gravel or slick limestone. 
River smallmouth will spawn on them and all species of bass, 
when feeding, gravitate to them. Sand is nothing more than 
rock reduced to its smallest form by wind, water and time. 
Where sand occurs, larger rocks are rare or nonexistent and 
weeds more prevalent. Largemouth spawn on sand.

Fishing Tips for Rocky Lakes:

• Since rocky lakes are often clear and lacking in brush or 
weeds, you should avoid heavy line and large lures. Small 
baits like jigs, grubs, blade baits and 1/4 ounce diving 
crankbaits will out produce large crankbaits and big plastic 

• If you do find shoreline cover in a rocky lake, such as a 
stump or flooded bush, by all means fish it.

• Fish rocky lakes with "the big picture" in mind. Bass 
fishing in weeds or wood is often a game of putting your 
lure close to the cover. But in rocky waters, bass often 
suspend off points or sloping banks and may not hang tight 
to rocks as they will weeds or wood. For this reason, lures 
that cover a lot of deep water, like diving crankbaits, or 
blade baits, catch a lot of bass.

• Knowing what depth range the bass are using is critical in 
a rocky lake. Bass often "slide" up and down points and flats
and may suspend in open water when inactive.

• Topwater lures are productive in rocky lakes in spring and 
fall. Bass will suspend in clear, open water but will rise 
to smack a surface lure.

Lures For Rocky Lakes:

• Minnow lures are highly realistic and maintain a true
baitfish appearance in clear water, In the spring and fall, 
twitch them on top near bluffs, points, flats and sloping 

• Grubs are thought by many to be the ultimate lures for 
rocky lakes. Fish them year-round on light line with a stiff 
spinning rod around sloping rock banks, flats and points.

• Metal baits like blade baits, spoons and tail-J spinners 
are compact, have a baitfish-imitating flash and are readily 
attacked by easily spooked bass in clear, rocky lakes. 
They're especially good in winter.

• Diving crankbaits are great in spring and fall when fished 
on sloping rock banks and points, especially if the lake 
turns murky following a hard rain. Use metallic finishes in 
clear water and on sunny days; crawfish patterns on cloudy 
days and when the water is murky are great on sloping rock 
banks in winter and early spring.

• Hair jigs are great on sloping rock banks in winter and 
early spring.

Rocky lakes can offer exciting and rewarding bass fishing. 
Once you more fully understand them you'll take a giant step
toward consistently catching bass. 

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Question of the Week

                  FISHING JOKES CORNER

You are a Real Bass Fisherman if...
1) You have a power worm dangling from your rear view mirror 
because you think it makes a good air freshener.

2) Your wedding party had to tie tin cans to the back of 
your bass boat.

3) You call your boat "sweetheart" and your wife "skeeter".

4) Your local tackle shop has your credit card number on 

5) You keep a flippin stick by your favorite chair to change 
the TV channels with.
6) You name your black lab "Mercury" and your cat "Evinrude".

7) Bass Pro Shop has a private line just for you.

8) You have your name painted on a parking space at the 
launch ramp.

9) You have a photo of your 10 lb. bass on your desk at work 
instead of your family.

10) You consider viennies and crackers a complete meal.

11) You think MEGABYTES means a great day fishing.

12) You send your kid off to the first day of school with 
his shoes tied in a palomar knot.

13) You think there are four seasons--Pre-spawn, Spawn, Post 
Spawn and Hunting.

14) Your $30,000 bass boat's trailer needs new tires so you 
just "borrow" the ones off your house.

15) You trade your wife's van for a smaller vehicle so your 
bass boat will fit in the garage.

16) Your kids know it's Saturday---Because the boat's gone.

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Questions? Comments? email: Email brock
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