A few weeks ago, a reader asked a question that I probably get more often than any other: How do you figure out where to fish on new body of water? The truth is, there is a ton of detail that goes into breaking down unfamiliar water to find fish, but the initial steps are fairly concrete. In the tournament game, the process has to be sped up, because I need to find the right class of bass fast. Recreational anglers have the luxury of chipping away at a body of water over time. But if you’ve been hesitant to splash the boat in a new lake for fear of getting skunked, here are three key factors that I lean on every time I hit new water. They’ll help make the decision of where to fish much easier.
1. Find the Grass – It’s a simple, universal rule. If the lake or river has grass, you should be fishing around it. Aquatic vegetation offers a home for forage, oxygenates the water, and provides cover. Large populations of bass immediately find it and use it. Now, what takes time is figuring out which species of vegetation holds the most and biggest bass in that body of water. But even if you find grass that’s not fully established because of weather patterns or growth stage, bass will most likely live somewhere around it, even if only temporarily.
2. Deep Water Access – Bass are naturally always in survival mode, and as a bass matures and gets smarter, it elevates its level of survival mode by using its topographical environment. Big bass don’t like to be in a position where they can’t escape quickly, so always look for areas with fast access to deep water. Even if a big bass commits to an ultra-shallow area to spawn, more times than not I see that location somewhere near deeper water or abundant cover that they can reach quickly to chill out for a while if they are threatened.
3. The Current Factor – Most bodies of water have some sort of current flow, whether it occurs naturally in a river, is produced by prevailing wind on a lake, or is manufactured on demand in a reservoir by a power-generating station. In all cases, current plays a huge role in where bass post up. The funny thing is, sometimes the fish seek current and use it to feed on prey in the flow; other times, such as when the current is running too hard, bass just want to be out of the flow in quieter water. Once you find an area of current, it’s up to you to figure out how the bass are relating to it by working in the flow and in the eddies and surrounding calm spots.