"Some types of stumps are just better than others," says Bill Dance, longtime television fishing host and three-time Toyota Bassmaster Angler of the Year. "You can catch bass around any stump, but to save time and quickly cover more water, you should concentrate on fishing stumps that are positioned on or near dropoffs. These stumps will usually produce better year-round than shallow water stumps.
"A stump situated on a point should always be fished. Often, a point stump is your best bet for a big bass. You can fish an entire cluster of stumps and not get a single strike until you fish the outer one. If you catch a fish or two off of a point stump, leave it for an hour or so and then try it again. It will usually replenish itself with another bass or two.
"Also, keep in mind that the fewer the stumps, the more concentrated the bass should be. If you begin catching fish in a small section of stumps and snag your lure, don't go after it. Let it lie, and use another rig until you've worked the area thoroughly. Invariably, stump bass spook easily."
The flooded brush lining the shoreline of Kerr Reservoir (Buggs Island) is a classic American bass scenario that even the most hardened pros eagerly anticipate each spring.
When the water rises enough to cover the shoreline bushes, the bass move into this freshly inundated cover, where they are accessible and aggressive.
"Depth is a key consideration for fishing flooded brush," all-time B.A.S.S. winner Roland Martin notes. "If you locate fish in 2 to 3 feet of water, for example, most of the active bass in that area or on that flat will be at the same depth. But, be aware that bass may move to various depths throughout the day, especially with changing weather conditions. Bass have a tendency to migrate heavily toward flooded bushes early in the morning and late in the afternoon.
"It's been my experience that the fish won't be in tight to the brush during the midday hours, when the sun is at its brightest. They will usually move out a little deeper to take advantage of any shade that's available. Another thing to remember is that it's not uncommon to find all of the bass positioned on one side - the same side - of the bushes. The fish may stray a few feet from the main section of the brush, but this movement is usually restricted to the low light hours, as well as cloudy conditions. Those are the times when the shade line extends farther out from the brush."
"Most people are intimidated by the sight of a huge stand of timber," says retired Texas pro Harold Allen, who has spent most of his life fishing the timbered reservoirs of Texas and Mississippi. "Intimidation will make them start running and gunning rather than setting up a game plan. And to be honest with you, fishing a timbered lake is quite a challenge. If you can catch bass in timber, you can catch them anywhere."
There is an art to reading flooded timber, which Allen associates with an entirely different sport.
"My ability to fish timber is based on my ability to read it," he explains. "I love deer hunting. I grew up in east Texas, where I was hunting a lot of contour. In walking through those hills and hollows, I learned that certain kinds of trees grow in certain kinds of places. Knowing the kind and size of trees that are located along places like ditches and creek banks allows you to zero in on the places where bass live."
Originally published October 2008