Many anglers fish the numerous lakes that we are blessed with in this great state of ours. In order to be successful, many items must be taken into consideration. Water temperature and clarity, depth, time of year, and these are only some of the information anglers seek. It is also helpful talk to others who have been out to hear what is working and where they are biting.
In almost any fishing report a person looks at he will find some notation that the bass are around the “Riprap.” I have been asked many times lately by folks just getting into fishing just what is riprap.
Well according to long time pro angler and TV host Jimmy Houston ripraps are man-made rock structures. Some are made specifically for the fishing population, but most are the results of construction around a lake such as around bridges and other structure that existed prior to the lake being built.
Most modern lake maps will list them and they will be one of the best bass fishing areas in the lake. The reason is because they are a natural home for one of the favorite foods of black bass, the crawfish. Ripraps are also one of the favorite hiding places for small bait fish like bream and shad. Shad feed on the algae that grow on the rocks that comprise the riprap.
Bass will cruse the areas in search of a meal so that is where the angler needs to be. The only tricky part about catching bass on riprap is choosing when the bass will be there and feeding. If the bass are there the angler is in luck and can probably get into some big time action, but if the fish are not there you can run that Texas rigged worm or Firetiger crank bait by there all day without a strike. If you are after bass never arbitrarily pass up riprap.
Another great place to hunt for those elusive black bass can be around stumps. There again check out your lake map and look for those submerged timber areas, but for the most part you will just have to use your eyes and sometime fish finder to identify the submerged stumps and timber.
While you are fishing an area keep an eye out for isolated stumps as well as the vast field of timber. An isolate stump will probably be the resting and feeding place of a nice bass. Sometime these stumps are completely submerged and may be hard to see if the water is a little off color. “A little off color” is fishing guide talk for just plain muddy water.
So when you locate one of these isolated, submerged stumps you have to figure there is a bass in there somewhere and you just have to get it out. You can try the whole gamut of approaches and one starting place is as good as the other. Texas Rigged soft plastics on and around the stump is a start. If the water is off color and that rig has drawn no positive results try switching to spinner baits. If the water is really off color you might try white blades to enable you to see the lure.
Another stump location that may produce large bass is those that are on the edge of a drop-off of a creek or river channel. The bass can come up from the deeper water and hide in the stumps until lunch comes by. In case of danger they are free to flee to the deeper water. It is a favorite location of black bass because of the availability of food and the comfort level produced by the close proximity of deeper water in which to flee danger.
If you catch a nice bass on a stump, remember that stump or mark it with your GPS. If it is good habitat for one bass the chances are the next time you go fishing another bass will have taken up residence at the same stump.
In case you don’t remember about 20 years ago we were a little short of rain here in Texas and most of the lakes were well below their normal level or pool as the description goes. I wrote a feature story for Angler’s Choice Magazine in the summer of 2000 about Sam Rayburn and at that time it was 11 feet below pool. At that same time Dam B was almost down to the river and creek channels and the rest was just a muddy field and Lake Conroe was down four feet below pool. A worse drought happened in 2011 when we had a serious one and the lake level dropped over eight feet below pool.
The experienced anglers were out on the lake trying to locate forgotten or heretofore unknown riprap, stumps, old submerged dams, and road beds. They knew everywhere that was high and dry because of the low water would produce brush and other undergrowth that would be fields of gold for the shad, crawfish, algae, and improve the entire food chain of the lake as soon as the water returned, and it did return.
So fellow angler the next time the lake get a little low, don’t cry about the possibility of hitting stumps and breaking a prop, slow down and mark the location of those stumps as future bass gold mines.