Should I go back?

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Steve Bowman

This is the time of year when lots of places look good, but they don’t always hold bass. If you encounter a few of those on your next trip, you’ll need to decide whether to fish them once and see what happens, or go back several times during the day to see if things have changed. 

In my opinion too many anglers check them once and then give up if they don’t catch a bass right away.

Certain places — maybe a stump or a rock between deep and shallow water — seem like they should hold bass. They do, but not during every hour of every day. The bass move in and out of those places, sometimes with the baitfish and sometimes just for the heck of it. Think of those places as rest areas along highways with traffic that ebbs and flows. 

Actually, the highway analogy is common with wild animals in the outdoor world. Have you ever noticed that deer follow the same trails even when they have other choices? They’ll walk over the same ground for years, and so will their offspring. If you look closely, you can see those trails, and I don’t care if the brush is as thick as a jungle. 

Dogs and cats do the same thing. Watch a dog or a cat walk around their backyard. They’ll travel almost the same exact path every time. In most cases we have no idea why they chose that path. But they did, and they’ll follow it all of their life.

So when I’m fishing and a place or a spot looks good, especially if it’s between deep and shallow water, I’ll fish it off and on all day. They’ll be there sometime. The trick is to fish it often enough so as not to miss them. 

Another thing: When you go back change the angle of your presentation to make sure you cover the spot from all directions. Fish don’t do a lot of thinking. They react. Why they react the way they do is something none of us understand, and probably never will. But that doesn’t make any difference. We can still work with what they do and take advantage of it.

Don’t allow yourself to slip into the thinking that they should be on the deep side so that’s where I’ll make all of my casts. If a piece of cover looks good and you think they’re on the deep side, make the first cast to the deep side — and then the next three or four to all the other sides.

It doesn’t hurt to change lures, either.

One other thing that I want to mention is that at the beginning of this column I said something about this time of year. That’s true, but everything I’ve said also applies to most of the year. The idea of highways with rest areas applies all year, with the possible exception of winter. And even then bass will hold on those places sometimes.  

It’s easy to make this fishing thing too complicated. If it looks good, it probably is good. So, unless you’ve found a place that’s holding giants, go back and fish it again. You’ll be surprised at how often that fills the livewell.