Fishing Tactics for Tall Timber
The main difficulty of fishing areas with sunken tall timber stands is that the water column is deep and bass can be anywhere in it, and the presence of additional area features. There could be a roadbed there once, or maybe a ditch, a deep drop-off that ended the treeline or a hump. The structures contribute to changing the area features, which determine which tactics are appropriate taking into consideration the time of year, weather and water conditions. The presence of baitfish and its location in the water column is likewise a significant factor in the game.
After finding bass by using a sonar or depthfinder, you can then decide what lures to use to entice them to bite.
For bass higher in the water column -perhaps 8-12 feet---, expert bass anglers try spinnerbaits first. Spinnerbaits are easy to work, quick to use and mostly weedless. The last characteristic is important in that the upper part of timber may contain small branches where other lures may easily get snagged. Vary the presentation, speeding up the retrieve, slowing it down or yo-yoing it via a retrieve-stop-retrieve action.
You can also try changing the colors of the spinnerbait skirt: bright light colors during a sunny day and clear water, darker ones on overcast skies or murky water.
The next things to try are swimbaits, particularly when the fish are aggressive or when their forage fish are nearby. A swimbait 'off the school' is a lonely fish and cold meat to bass, and thus an easy meal. Predator fish are opportunity feeders, and a swimbait moving alone is an excellent opportunity for food. Work the swimbait over timber tops that do not quite reach the water surface. It is what a 'lost' baitfish would do to escape predators while trying to get back to the school.
When bass are in mid-depths, maybe 10-20 feet, the best lure can be wobblers, those short and fat baitfish-looking plugs that wiggle when retrieved. Do all the usual tricks of the trade: fancasting where possible between the trees, varying the retrieve speeds from 'burning' to slow-dancing it, changing models, colors, configurations and sizes. The fish may prefer a certain lure color retrieved a particular way for the day, or you can annoy it enough to strike the lure just to eliminate a pesky thing. One of the beauties of fishing is the challenge on how to make fish bite.
For bottom-located fish, experts perform with leadhead jigs. Jigs reach bottom rapidly and therefore can cover much water in a short time. They also resemble more those organisms that crawl on the bottom that fish feed on: insect larvae, small crawfish, maybe crabs. Use a jig when the bottom is gravel or bedded with small rocks, and make it scuttle along disturbing the bottom detritus to attract the fish' attention. Bump trees once in a while as well.
So if the fish relate to tall standing timber, do not think of snagging your lure. Think of it as an opportunity to test your mettle and skill in fishing. It is actually what sportfishing is all about.
L Edwin G Rondina has been fishing for more than 40 years, mostly saltwater. Nevertheless he is extremely interested in its various forms and wants to learn to try them as much as possible. He loves to write about them to share his knowledge. Read more of his articles here, and maybe you could pick a tip or two to enjoy the pursuit much better.
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