Ask any knowledgeable, experienced angler to name the universally preferred cover of both bass and bass fishermen, and the answer likely will be stumps.
Stumps provide prime habitat for all species of bass in both man-made reservoirs and natural lakes.
Most commonly found in impoundments, stumps are usually created when trees are clear-cut prior to an area being flooded. Although the timber is sold for a profit, the flat-topped remnants remain in place on the lake bottom for years.
Typically, stumps range in size from 1 to 3 feet in diameter and feature a squat section of trunk that gives way to a series of roots attached to the soil. The trunk provides plenty of cover for bass as soon as the impoundment is formed, while the root system usually offers ample room for shelter as the bottom gradually erodes, exposing the roots. And the top of the stump is often slick with algae, which attracts baitfish.
Stumps are not exclusive to reservoirs, however. Natural lakes can have a variety of trees (like cypress and oak) that leave stout stumps when knocked down or cut.
Like most forms of cover, there is plenty to consider when targeting stumps. Here are 10 valuable tips provided by some of America's brightest fishing minds.
Bassmaster Elite Series pro Davy Hite emphasizes that some individual stumps are going to be more productive than others in the area.
"When I'm fishing stumps, it's typically in an area where there's a thousand of them, or maybe even 10,000 of them," the former Bassmaster Classic champion says. "But not all stumps are created equal.
"If you catch a fish, stop and evaluate the area: Is it on a flat? What is the depth of the water? Is the creek channel close to it? Does the stump have a lot of roots, a lot of mass, or is it small? Really evaluate what type of stump it is and determine what's around it to narrow your search for bass in an endless field of stumps."