Structure Fishing

Rare is the angler who doesn't know that structure attracts fish and makes for great places to catch them. This is true for every species from bass and pike, to trout, panfish and a multitude of saltwater fish, too. Here are 10 classic structure spots to look for fish, and likely catch them, also. 1. Docks are great fish magnets, but not every dock is as good at consistently attracting and holding fish as are some others that look nearly identical. Deep water near the end of one dock tip, and near the finger pier off the large "T" dock make these two spots potential fish havens.
2. Dam Bases are choice places for fishing, with often some of the deepest water in a lake available--a desirable thing for mature fish. Many dams have rocky rip-rap at their faces. Where the rocks end and a concrete dam base begins is a potential key spot for feeding fish. Many dam bases also have a wide concrete slap that suddenly drops off, creating a fish-attracting "break line" always worth checking.
3. Dock Cribs are northern structures, created when lake and river owners remove docks so ice doesn't destroy them. Many such dock supports have large bases made of rock or concrete that make for outstanding fish-drawing structures. Anytime in early spring or fall when a dock "path" is seen leading to a water shoreline from a house, it's worth a few probing casts to learn if there are "cribs" and fish holding near them.
4. Break Walls made of concrete, stone, gravel, steel or timber can offer baitfish choice places to hide, and that draws gamefish. Predators commonly cruise their edges, and often hold in small depressions and hidey holes in the structures.
5. Bridge Abutments can draw almost any gamefish, from crappies and walleyes, to snook, tarpon, even pike and muskies, crappies and catfish. Vertical fishing with jigs, spoons, plastic worms and natural baits often is a good way to work them, using a boat's electronics to "mark" bottom configurations, bait and gamefish.
6. Wing Dams are man-made structures common in large rivers and used to divert strong current during times of heavy-rain. Such dams can be made of many materials, including rocks and gravel, and most attract minnows, crawfish and other predator treats. The down-current portions of dams usually offer the best fishing, especially if back-water eddies are present, as well as deep "wash-out" holes.
7. Natural lake contours sometimes are not as easily discerned by anglers as some structures on man-made lakes. But even slight changes in contour bottom and weed growth can be huge fish magnets on a natural lake or pond. Weed-line edges, and even minor drop-offs of a foot or less near deep water, can be important structure elements in attracting gamefish.
8. A Flooded Timber Point running from the shallows in a stair-step fashion, with weeds, deep water, a creek bed and flooded timber can hold fish in a multitude of different places. Good anglers realize this, and take their time fishing and probing every spot until fish are located.
9. Deep Water Points with rocks and weeds and ledge-like drop-offs will draw fish from deep water to the shallows. Gamefish will pause during a migration to the shallows, pausing to regroup and feed as they go. During the best weather and water conditions, predators will move all the way up to the weed edge. But often they linger in deeper water, and anglers must know where such places are found to consistently catch fish.
10. A Classic Point with all these structure elements is rare, but this one has them. Deep water is the key ingredient to the point holding mature fish. Structure ingredients like rocks and ledges, weeds, stumps and a pier make this classic point a great bet for outstanding fishing. _Note: This artwork comes from Bob McNally's best-selling book, "Bass In Depth," available from Bass Pro Shops and signed by the author.

Looking for a fish magnet? Here are 10 places where fish love to hide.