I wood if I could

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Elite Series pros dive deep into the details of fishing stumps, laydowns, brushpiles and standing timber.

It's a fact: Sometimes, you have to do things the hard way. But if it means catching bass around natural wood targets, that’s not such a bad deal. 

We could fairly include wooden docks in this conversation, but for tighter focus, we’ll stick with the locally grown stuff — specifically, laydowns, standing timber and stumps. There are lots of details among these bass magnets, so let’s go with the why, where and how, as explained by a trio of wood-savvy Bassmaster Elite Series pros.

For starters, Chris Zaldain bases his general affinity for wood targets on their foundational value. Bass generally think with their stomachs, so there you go.

“Wood provides a very good start to an ecosystem,” Zaldain said. “Wood provides cover for every living organism underneath the water’s surface, from phytoplankton and zooplankton, to algae and various [forage], including crawfish and my favorites — bluegill and crappie.

“Think about it: Wood was once a living thing, and living things tend to live around life. You can’t say that about rocks or docks. Living organisms attract other living organisms, starting at the bottom of the food chain and working all the way up to the apex predator, which is a bass.”

Keith Combs agrees and notes that the obvious advantages of shade and cover benefit bass at both ends of their life cycle. Shallow wood provides spawners not only requisite hard bottom, but also an instant fry nursery.

When it's right

Most agree that wood, in some form, can play year-round, but seasonality helps you dial in the more likely options. Zaldain notes that the extremes of winter and summer find deeper, vertical wood — often main-lake areas — more productive, while spring and fall bring the shallow cover into focus. Exceptions exist, but this rule of thumb will keep you in the ballpark.

As Greg Hackney points out, across the calendar, all types of wood habitat remain relevant in rivers and natural lakes, while reservoirs find the shallow stuff highlighted mostly during the spring spawning migrations. From postspawn through winter, it’s largely an offshore deal.

For some, wood’s a no-brainer, top-tier go-to. Others consider it a functional option always worth a look. Personal preference guides much of this, but consider this Elite-level insight when sizing up your wood-fishing opportunities.