Fishing deep structure, ledges and dropoffs has become more popular every year. Due to the improved technology in electronics, you better know how to fish deep if you want to compete at almost any level. With that said, don't overlook the fish that live on the bank year-round.
We don't have to look too far back to see a good example of how good fishing deep can be. A few weeks ago, at the Lake Chickamauga Bassmaster BASSfest event, there were some great limits of fish caught deep. However, there were some really poor days had out deep as well. It was feast or famine for the anglers that fished deep.
I fell into that trap, but in a mid-event decision switched up and went looking for fish shallow. I wasn't able to rescue a top finish, but I was able to finish quite a bit higher than if I had stayed deep. Hindsight being 20/20, I should have spent more time looking shallow. I am not sure how much better I could have done, but I think I could have done quite well.
The thing about fishing deep is it takes so much time during practice. For the Chickamauga event, I spent more time idling and looking at my Garmin units than I did actually fishing. Heading into this event I think almost every angler in it would have predicted the tournament would have been won deep. It might have been won deep, but an angler spending his practice looking and patterning shallow fish could have won, or at least been in the mix to win it on the final day.
Shallow water is relative to the body of water being discussed. In Florida, that might be 2 to 3 feet. On deeper lakes, that might be as deep as 6 or 8 feet. I believe that there is a population of fish on every body of water that will stay in this depth range their entire lives.
What causes them to stay shallow? I believe there are a few reasons. First, there is always forage in shallow water including crawfish, insects, baitfish, frogs and more. I don't think there is always enough forage for the entire population of fish, but there is enough to keep some fish shallow at all times during the year.
Fishing shallow, simply put, is easier. Shallow fish are much more predictable than deep fish. They are also easier to pattern, and most importantly they are less likely to move large distances in a short amount of time.
While I don't think every tournament can be won solely on shallow fish, I do think that shallow fish can keep you competitive in most events. My point is to not overlook the potential shallow patterns can have, even on bodies of water known for deep water fishing like Lake Chickamauga.