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Piers, Docks and Pilings

Wherever there's structure there's food, shelter and fish. Weeds, barnacles and other food sources can attach to anything.

Docks and piers provide shelter from the sun and a nice resting spot for both big and small fish. * Rivers & Streams * Bays & Estuaries * Surf & Shore * Open Ocean

Get to know your lake structure.

Points, inlets, holes, sunken islands, dams, submerged objects (manmade or natural) and reeds and weeds are all considered structure.

You should always fish in and around structure. It's a simple formula.

  • Structure creates shallows * Shallows create plant growth 
  • Plant growth attracts bait fish * Bait fish attract game fish, the fish you want to catch

Cliffs and Steep Shore Banks

A shear cliff or bank that goes straight down into deep water provides no structure, break line or gradual path to deeper water.

So it doesn't attract fish. On the other hand, a cliff or bank that has an underwater shelf or slopes gradually toward deeper water does attract fish.

You should also look for crumbled-off rock at the underwater base of sharp cliffs. Deep-water fish may be attracted to these rocks for food or spawning.

Rocks

Rocks are structure.

They provide fish with shelter (cover), food and a possible place to mate. Remember, always fish structure.

If the rocks are in deeper water or on the edge of deeper water, they provide an even better place to fish.

Just don't snag your bait.

Points with Break Lines

A point extends out from the shoreline and slopes gradually down and into deeper water.

It's a good place to fish. But a point with a quick drop-off or one that doesn't extend into deeper water isn't a good place to fish.

  •  The sloping-out formation of a point creates a break line.
  •  A break line draws fish from deeper water to shallow water in search of food.
  •  Fish the point of the point and the corners of the point (the part that curves back into the shore).

Drift Lines and Wind

Have you ever noticed lines on the water during a breezy day?

Those breezes are actually pushing surface water around the lake. Which in turn pushes around surface food.

Look for the drift lines and you'll find fish.

Stronger winds can actually push bait fish closer to shore, bringing game fish closer to shore to feed.

Even really strong winds can make for good fishing.

Stirring up everything from microscopic food to lunker fish, but it's pretty tricky and more than a little dangerous. Leave it to the pros.

Weeds Beds

Weed beds are structure.

They provide food and shelter for bait fish and bait fish attract game fish.

Look for weed beds that lead to deeper water and create a break line. Or look for sunken weed beds in deep, open water.

Islands and Sand Bars

These sunken or partially sunken bodies of land will attract both bait fish and game fish if they create a break line.

In other words, if the land slopes gradually down and into deeper water.

Water currents run around islands, too, carrying small plant food and aquatic animals that float on the surface.

That can also attract bait fish and game fish.

Holes

Holes are glacially formed basins that are lower than the rest of the lake.

Water in these holes is cooler, so they attract deep-water fish on hot, summer days. You'll need a topographical map to find them.

Spring Holes

When water boils up from the bottom of the lake, it creates a spring hole.

In the summer, deep-water fish are attracted to these holes because the water coming up is always cooler.

Even when the hole is not in deep water, spring holes can attract unsuspecting, deep-water lunkers.

But don't get too excited, spring holes are really tough to find.

Sunken Objects

Trees, branches, logs, stumps, rocks, treasure chests—they're all structure.

They all provide shelter, shade and protection for fish.

So it's a good place to hook a fish. Always watch your line and be extra careful if you're in a boat.

Lily Pads

insects and other aquatic critters that live on and around lily pads always attract smaller bait fish and bait fish always attract bigger fish.

Huge patches of lily pads can also create shade, which also attracts fish.

Cast into the edges and openings. Otherwise, you're likely to tangle up your gear.

Gradual Shores

Like any structure that tilts gradually down and into deeper water, a gradual-sloping shoreline can provide plant food, attract fish and create a path out of and back into deeper water.

However, a really gradual slope will create a large expanse of shallow water that will not attract fish.

Inside Turns and Coves – The Opposite of a Point

An inside turn is a small inlet that cuts into the shore.

If the water in the turn is shallow, you've got another break line, and another great place to catch fish.

Walkways and Bridges

Walkways are like piers, but are specially built fishing platforms that are near or run parallel to bridges, piers, shoreline bulkheads, or similar structures.

An example is a walkway along a bridge, but constructed at a lower level.

This keeps anglers safe from auto traffic and puts them closer to the water.

Open Water

Good luck. If you're not in shallow water, and there are no weeds or other natural or man-made structure in sight—above or below the water—you're in open water, and you're in a pretty tough place to catch fish.

But you might be right above a stream or river channel that deep-water fish use to go from one side of the lake to the other in search of food.

Or, you might be above a deep hole or drop-off where deep-water fish rest from the current.

Still, it's tough to catch fish in either of these places.

Sometimes, in early spring and late fall, when there's very little vegetation anywhere, bait fish will roam open lake waters in search of plankton.

During those times, you can look for small fish on the surface in the open water. If you see a bunch of small fish, it's a good bet larger fish are lurking below.

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