I map the lake looking at the contours for several reasons. We want to keep the boat in 20 ft. of water as not to disturb the Bass. We fish deep water contours right next to funnel points, spawning flats, creek channel swings, at the mouth of coves and secondary points inside the coves. We are going to catch the big bass coming in to spawn as they stage up on these irregular contours and we are going to catch them as they are leaving the area as they will stage for the second time to start their feeding patterns.
This is best done with two fisherman in the boat. Man in front is casting to shallow water where fish may be setting up to spawn on top of a point, flat, inside bend of a creek, top of a hump and on the sides of drainage ditches that feed into the creeks. The man in the back of the boat drags a Crig on this deeper contour as the features make irregular changes. An irregular feature is a steeper drop on one side of the point that we are working, tight lines on the contour map then a wider line on the slop means heavy rock and the ups and down of the terrain as we cross small protrusions coming off the shore. Your boat will be fishing both of the best worlds from shallow up front to the deeper contours of the terrain from the back.
The key to reading contours is understanding the distance between lines. The wider the distance between lines, the flatter and more gradual the slope of the bottom. The narrower the distance, it’s just the opposite with a steeper and a quick drop-off. If these irregular features have cover like wood, heavy rock or grass on them then you have found the spot. Look for places on contour maps where there are relatively flat spawning areas which have deeper water next to them. As fish migrate in and out during particular times of year, these channels often become their main pathways and sources of food. Also look for places where lines are close together. These are indications of drop-offs, ridges or deeper structure. Look for small circles on the map; circles are likely an indication of a ridge or mound coming up from the bottom. Bass love these irregular features with cover and when you find fish they are there for a reason; so pay attention to the contour from where they were caught. This will allow you to repeat your success in another similar sections of the lake.
Bass do not take just any direction to get to the shallows. Contours are routes with structure, steep drops and breaklines that show them the way to the shallows. As Bass move along the contour how far they go and how long they stay depends on the food source, weather, water conditions and how good that irregular feature is. We all know how to cast to targets; but learning to drag on contour takes a little time with more benefits than you can imagine. We have all heard the story of how she caught the biggest Bass of the day just dragging it behind the boat. Well now you know.
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