The more I fish the more I realize what I’m really looking for is change. That helps me find fish every time I’m on the water. It’s the basis of everything I do. Bass always relate to differences. That means we should too.
I don’t care if it’s a clean bottom to a stump; a clean bottom to grass; two kinds of grass meeting; a soft bottom to a hard bottom; or a sharp, well-defined water clarity line it’s always about change. You can find these changes two ways.
The first is with your eyes. All you have to do is look around. Two guys who are really good at that are Edwin Evers and Aaron Martens. Watch them sometime on TV or in-person when they’re fishing. Their heads are constantly moving back and forth, up and down.
They’re doing that for a reason. They make note of everything around them. They don’t just see the standing timber that everyone else sees. They see single stickups, smaller than a No. 2 pencil, sitting 100 yards off the bank. They find dark spots on the bottom. They see things on the shore that give them clues to what’s under the water. Regardless of what they see, however, it’s always something different. It’s change.
To do this you will need a high-quality pair of polarized sunglasses. You can’t find what you need to find with glare in your eyes and distorted perception. Everybody I know has a favorite. Mine are the Cocoons Pro Series.
The second is with your electronics. They become a second pair of eyes for me when I’m out fishing and I can’t see under the water. There’s a ton of them out there. They range the gamut from the very best to barely adequate. I use one of the high-end models — the Lowrance HDS-10 Gen2.
Here’s the thing, though. I don’t think of it as a fish finder. Nine times out of ten I’m not looking for fish. I’m looking for change. I split the screen between traditional sonar and structure scan. This gives me two different ways to locate and identify changes under the surface. But again, I’m not looking for a big bass holding a flag that says, “Catch me.” I’m looking for two (or more) things that are different but that come together.
I always recommend buying the best electronics you can afford. The new electronics are truly amazing. Stumps look like stumps, rock looks like rock. Sometimes you can even see differences between two types of weeds. Heck, I saw a sunken boat once that looked exactly like a boat. The detail was amazing.
But the best places usually don’t look like that. They’re more subtle. You’ll be going along with everything looking light gray. Then, all of a sudden you’ll see a slight rise on the bottom and everything will go real dark. When you get to the top of the rise it’ll all turn light again. That’s the spot you want.
We’ll talk more about all of this next week.
Mike Iaconelli's column appears weekly on Bassmaster.com. You can also find him on Facebook and Twitter.