Alabama guide Troy Jens is a big fan of fishing stumps throughout the year. But his approach changes with each season:
Prespawn: Jens targets individual stumps and stumpfields located in deeper water adjacent to a spawning flat that concentrates female bass in fairly predictable places in the early spring.
Spawning season: Stumps positioned on any shallow flat that is somewhat protected from the wind provide excellent spawning cover.
Postspawn: After completing the spawn, Jens relocates bass on the same middepth stumps that served as a prespawn staging area.
Summer: Stumps positioned on or near the main river or creek channels come into play.
Fall: In early fall, Jens looks for stump bass to be relating to any type of deep channel. But as the water cools, he follows the fish into shallow stumpfields located in the backs of pockets, coves and creeks.
Winter: This is the time of year when Jens focuses on isolated stumps rather than groups of stumps.
"My best tip for fishing wood is to keep your bait in contact with the wood," advises Texan Kelly Jordon, one of the country's top young pros. "If you're flipping it, make sure your plastic hits the wood. Bang your crankbait against it and let it deflect off. If you're throwing a spinnerbait, make sure it knocks the side of the wood. That can produce a strike that you might not otherwise get without making contact with the cover.
"To do that, you need to make sure your line is strong enough for the task."
When it comes to fishing various types of wood, Dean Rojas' most productive tactic is flipping. The transplanted Texan and BASS record-holder believes the pinpoint accuracy inherent in this technique enables him to better probe every portion of the cover - from top to root.
"I throw right at the heart, right where I think there might be a fish," he says. "A lot of times, in dirty water you can't always see what's down there. So, I like to throw into the heart of it. That way, if the fish are sitting underneath the root system, I'm going to get bit right away."
"Focus on wood that lies horizontally in the water, especially if there's a limited amount of horizontal cover in the area," past Bassmaster Classic winner and former fisheries biologist Ken Cook points out. "If you've got a standing tree with one horizontal limb on it, key in on that limb. Bass want to orient to the horizontal part of the cover. It gives them better camouflage.
"I've seen that when scuba diving. When you go under a boat dock, if there's a horizontal support, that's where the fish are going to be.
"It's crucial that you make the right presentation the first time when fishing a horizontal piece of cover. There was a Classic on the Arkansas River when I was fishing a backwater area that had a lot of laydown logs. I knew the fish were around those logs. I was fishing a spinnerbait, and I soon noticed that I never caught a fish if I made a presentation that crossed the log. The first cast had to be made along the shady side of the log, or I wouldn't get a strike."
B.A.S.S. winner Tommy Biffle has planted countless brushpiles in Oklahoma lakes during his lifetime. In the process, he has become an expert at exploiting these bass condominiums.
Biffle's basic game plan depends on the time of year. In the summer, when the bass are more active and likely to be moving around the brushpile (instead of holding tight, as they tend to do during their sluggish winter mode), he stays away from the wood and casts to it. In the colder months, Biffle positions his boat over deep brush and utilizes a more methodical, vertical presentation.