Hump / noun: something that protrudes from a form; in physical geography, a low, rounded rise of ground; in bass fishing terms, an underwater island or section of a lake bottom that rises gradually, signified on topographical maps as contour lines that create a circle or oval shape.
In bass circles, the word "hump" is among the most common terms used by anglers at all levels. Humps come in all shapes and sizes, depths and locations, but share a common denominator: These bottom structures hold bass throughout the year.
The composition of a hump is basically rock, although it can be framed with aquatic vegetation or a sand topping. Humps can be found almost anywhere on a lake, reservoir or river — isolated or in conjunction with a point or ledge. This type of structure can give way to deeper terrain with immediacy or have a gradual slope.
To bass, the attractiveness of a hump is twofold: Its entire food chain is often found there; and these places provide easy access to deeper water where bass can suspend while adjusting to weather changes.
Because of their depth, humps take some skill to exploit. Here are 10 great tips for fishing underwater humps.
1. DEREK REMITZ:
LOOK FOR THE ODDITIES
Bassmaster Elite Series rookie Derek Remitz was graphing submerged structure on the bottom of California's Clear Lake when he was asked for his best tip for fishing humps.
"Spend time studying your depthfinder," recommends the Minnesota native now living in Alabama. "I look for any type of little differences on top of them.
"I graph it pretty intensively trying to find those little sweet spots on it. That could be a little rock ledge off one side or grass growing down the other side of it, or if it breaks off faster on one side. And a lot of people put brushpiles on them. Anything that's a little different.
"A lot of times I'll spend 15 minutes graphing them, looking for those key spots, as well as getting to know how it lays out."
2. BRYAN HUDGINS:
Growing up on the St. Johns River, Florida Elite Series rookie Bryan Hudgins became an expert on fishing current. Believe it or not, even deep water humps — and the bass that relate to these structures— are impacted by such water flow.
Hudgins points out that bass in this situation typically will be positioned on the downcurrent side of the hump and facing into the current in anticipation of ambushing baitfish that wash over the top of the mound. So he casts upstream and allows his lure to drift over the hump.
"Also, a lot of times, people try a hump one time during the day," he adds. "But these fish will pull up on a hump throughout the day at different times and feed. Just because you hit a hump one time during the day and don't get a bite, it doesn't mean that you shouldn't try it again in two hours. You might come back and be able to catch 25 pounds in a hurry."
3. DENNY BRAUER:
DON'T SPARE THE JIG
When discussing submerged humps, most anglers talk about crankbaiting and Texas or Carolina rigging. All-time BASS great Denny Brauer reminds us that a rubber-skirted jig can be especially productive in that situation (particularly in the summertime).
During the hottest months, the Missouri pro targets humps in 25 to 30 feet of water with a 1/2-ounce black-and-blue Strike King Premier Elite jig with either a twin-tail grub or ribbontail worm as a trailer.
"The bass are going to concentrate more in certain places like humps, and it's harder fishing," he says. "It's a totally different kind of jig fishing. It's not a type of jig fishing I enjoy as much as shallow water fishing. It can involve a lot more work and time. It's harder to find those places. But once you find those places, it can be very, very rewarding.
"Once the jig hits the bottom, I give it a couple of hops like I normally would, and if nothing happens, I sweep it up off the bottom. It's a tremendous, tremendous way to fish a jig during the summertime."
4. SHAW GRIGSBY:
GET TO KNOW YOUR HUMP
Veteran Florida pro Shaw Grigsby advocates getting to know your hump intimately. For him, that involves using his Lowrance LCX-111C HD console color depthfinder to get a detailed picture of the structure and often his X26 HD bow unit to actually fish it.
"The good thing about GPS nowadays is you can fish a hump found on your GPS without ever dropping a buoy marker once you figure out how it lays out," the eight-time BASS winner says. "So I'll fish it with buoys if nobody's around; if somebody's around, it's all GPS.
"An easy thing to do is drop a buoy on it so you can work the hump more efficiently. If it's a big hump, I'll use more than one buoy. Drop one on each end. And if it's got some unusual contours on it, I'll use three or four buoys just to make sure I know what's down there."
As he spoke via cell phone, Grigsby had been searching various sized humps in the California Delta — looking for early spring prespawn bass.
"I've got one that I marked today that is beautiful," he mentions. "It took me about 20 minutes to find this rock hump that comes out of about 25 feet and goes up to about 9.
"I idled it for a while and then backed off, which is a good tip. Depending on how deep it is, if you've idled over it a few times, give it a few minutes to settle down. Then sneak back up on it and make a cast; you'll probably be really successful."
SUMMERTIME HOT SPOT
While these underwater islands, small and large, can hold bass throughout the year, former Classic Champion Ken Cook has found that they are summertime hot spots in most bodies of water.
"One thing I noticed over years of fishing is in the wintertime you find fish on concave structures," the Oklahoma pro notes. "That is, they are on the deep side o
f the channel, on the dropoff side. They don't have to go very far horizontally to get really deep water.
"But in the summertime, they tend to be on the humps. They are on top of the convex structure. And that's a really key factor sometimes. You are looking for fish to be up on the humps."
Once bass finish spawning in the spring, Jason Quinn makes a beeline to offshore humps and ledges with a crankbait rod in hand. The South Carolina pro typically mops up on these postspawn bass with a Rapala DT diver.
"The places that I like to fish then are main river channel ledges and humps that are offshore," Quinn says. "I don't do a lot of points at that time of year. When postspawn comes around, the bass don't mess around those flatter points at all. They go straight to some of the deepest humps in the lake.
"This is the time when you really can catch them cranking."
In the clear water reservoirs of Arkansas' Ouachita Mountains, Mark Davis cut his fishing teeth on offshore structure fishing around humps and other offshore structure. Today, he most often scores on a 3/4-ounce chartreuse-and-white Strike King Pro-Model sporting a No. 2 1/2 Colorado blade in the front and No. 5 willow in the rear (his trailer is usually a 3-inch grub).
"This is one of my favorite ways to catch fish on a spinnerbait," the former Classic champion says. "We're talking about slow rolling it — just throwing it out and letting it go to the bottom like you're fishing a jig, then retrieving it over a structure.
You'll try to bump some cover that's down there on that structure to draw strikes.
This works well in prespawn and postspawn, and on some lakes it works well in the summer."
Any bass angler worth his Boga-Grips knows that one of the keys to scoring on underwater humps is to locate any cover on the structure — stumps, rocks, vegetation or brush. But the opposite can be true when dealing with weedy lakes and reservoirs.
Preston Clark, a record-setting Elite Series pro from Florida, often looks for bald spots on submerged humps. These spots are formed when the structure is exposed during the winter drawdown and the vegetation dies off. Once the water level rises, the bare area will be surrounded by weeds and becomes a bass magnet (especially in the spring).
Clark most often finds (and exploits) these bald spots with a Carolina rigged 4-inch Berkley Gulp Noodle or lizard.
Missouri's Scott Campbell has considerable experience fishing humps and other types of deep structures.
In fact, he made a discovery in 2006 that has paid big dividends in the months since then. It occurred while he was competing as an Elite Series co-angler and later on the pro side of the Bassmaster Northern Tour in tournaments on Kentucky Lake (finishing fourth in both).
In both events, his success came on a 12-inch plastic worm.
"My best tip would be to experiment with different tails," the Elite Series rookie explains. "A big worm is always going to produce fish when they're offshore in deep, warm water. I started out with your typical Zoom Ole Monster and Mag II ribbon tails. I switched to a big, hand-poured paddle tail and started catching fish 5-to-1 over the ribbon tail.
"That's something you should keep in the back of your mind: Am I fishing exactly the right thing?"
Veteran Texas pro Alton Jones polished his skills fishing humps while guiding on Richland Chambers Reservoir.
"The best ones actually are humps that are really small and located offshore," he says. "And many of them are man-made. The deep water around them, for example, may be 18 to 30 feet deep, and the top of the hump will be 12 to 15 feet."
Although various lures can be productive, Jones has found that his best success starts off with a crankbait — usually a Bomber Fat Free Shad.
"Whenever I pull up on a hump, a crankbait is always the first lure I throw," he advises.