How To Score Offshore
Editor's note: This blog installment comes from Fishhound pro staffer JR Mundinger.
Ever wonder how pro fishermen catch so many fish on offshore structure? While filming an episode for New South Outdoors, Bassmaster Elite Series pro Jtodd Tucker and I focused on fishing offshore structure. One thing we pointed out to viewers was how easy it can be. The response was overwhelming.
So with the understanding that most anglers are most comfortable when fishing visible nearshore cover such as docks, rocks, lily pads or stumps, here's a tip that may help you become a better offshore fisherman.
Let's start with the equipment you'll need. First is a good hydrographical lake map that shows depths, humps, ridges, points and other obvious underwater bottom-contour changes. Next is electronics, including a GPS (global positioning system), depthfinder or combination unit. Then you'll need six to 10 brightly colored marker buoys with plenty of string. Once you have all the equipment, it's time to do your research.
On your lake map, pick an obvious starting point like a river-channel ledge or underwater grassbed. Most maps come with latitude/longitude grids, and some even have GPS plotting, so pre-programming a destination into your GPS unit makes these spots much quicker to locate once you're on the water. Several companies also make computer chips for your GPS with detailed mapping information already programmed, which eliminates the need for the paper map once on the water.
Now the day has come to put your homework to the test. Your boat's sitting on the first starting point. Begin by finding the other end of the ridge, hump or channel ledge you plan to fish. Mark that spot on your GPS and zigzag back toward your starting location, dropping a marker buoy every 20 or 30 feet on top of the point or ridge. Turn back around and create a track on your GPS while following your markers, and now you're ready to fish.
As you back off into the channel or deeper water, you should have a visual of how the area runs underneath the water. Fish from one end to the other and make mental notes of brush, rocks or other underwater cover you may encounter. Once you get bit, be sure to mark that spot with your GPS, and remember that you marked where the boat was sitting when you got bit – not where the fish actually bit.
Repeat this on both sides of the ridge or hump if applicable. Then duplicate this process throughout the lake or river and before you know it, you'll have lots of new spots to hit each time you're on the water. And when you go back, you'll be able to pull up on your favorite offshore spots and fish with confidence.
This method also works for crappie, stripers, walleye and just about any species that feeds offshore.
Cliff "JR" Mundinger was a yankee before he moved to the deep south 15 years ago. He calls Tallahassee, Fla. home and is currently the TV host of New South Outdoors. He also provides content for newspapers, magazines and various Internet outlets. He competes in bass tournaments and still guides for bass. You can catch up with him at FishTallahassee.com.
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