Winter provides a good time to reflect on the things you learned the previous season and how you can put those lessons to use next year.
And while new techniques and lure strategies are an important part of that, don't forget about the places you fish.
Our lakes get a ton of pressure these days, and because anglers and the electronics they use are so good at finding fish, there aren't a lot of secrets.
That is, unless you create some spots of your own — and do it now — by sweetening an area with additional habitat.
Placing new cover on a structure that has become barren over the years can really enhance that structure, especially on older lakes without grass. Remember, however, that some states prohibit it or require a special permit. Check state local regulations.
There's an art to where and how you plant cover. When done properly, you'll create a spot that will produce some key fish throughout the year and can last for years to come. If not done properly, you're going to waste time and energy.
You can gather the neighborhood's Christmas trees and sink them in your favorite lake and it might pay off. However, Christmas trees erode quickly and don't always make the best cover for bass to use.
That's why I prefer hardwoods, like oak trees, or rocks. When you sink green wood, it falls to the bottom and will stay there for years. There's no need to anchor it with boulders, like you have to do with softer timber.
Also, bass love hard objects that rise a few feet above the bottom. If you dump logs and rocks haphazardly on muck bottoms, they're going to sink into the mud and ultimately disappear.
Location counts, too. I like to put cover in water 5 to 10 feet deep and away from the bank to make it more difficult for others to find.
When I'm doing it from my bass boat, I save the waypoint on my Humminbird GPS unit so I will know precisely where it's located.
More importantly, it's critical to put cover in areas that the bass traditionally use but not in places so obvious that other anglers can find it. Some of my favorite places are on the barren side of secondary points leading into creeks. I like to sweeten those flat points that bass use when they are moving in and out of those creeks during the spring and fall, or plant brush on ugly banks that others don't fish.
Nighttime is a good time to do it because others aren't likely to see you. That's not always possible, so pick a weekday when there is less traffic on the lake. Believe me, if another angler sees you sweetening a spot, he'll try to find it and likely tell his buddies.
Next week, I'll reveal specifically how I build cover to make it more attractive to bass.