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Mapping Out Bass
By Denny  Brauer

One of the most important things you can do to make yourself a better fisherman on a given body of water is to do some quality map study. I do say "quality" map study because there is more to it than merely looking at a map of the lake. Several factors go into making a map work for you and, if done correctly, can greatly simplify the route to catching bass year-round.

You must first find the best maps. Cheap, simple maps are fine for navigation but seldom give the information needed to put fish in the boat. Try to find a good contour map with contour lines as close together as possible. This helps in showing subtle depth changes, ledges, channels, and other structure that hold bass.

Once you have a good map, you need to analyze the lake. What do you already know about it? Does it have any vegetation? If so, how deep does it grow? What time of the year will you be fishing? Keep in mind the seasonal patterns and you are on your way to finding fish.

You now should have a good idea of what type of depth and cover the fish will be relating to. For instance, in the spring a majority of the bass will be shallower than 10 feet. Get a highlight pen and shade everything from the 10 foot contour line to the shore. This will show all the flats and potential spawning areas as well as humps or ridges that bass might use. You have just eliminated a lot of water. If you fish a body of water year-round, buy four maps and highlight areas for each time of the year. This system will allow you to focus on what is pertinent about the map at the given time you are fishing.

As you do this it often becomes obvious as to where bass will move to when conditions change. If you find fish in some shallow flooded bushes and the water starts dropping, your previous map work will show you the ditches and deeper water that the fish will move to. It can also help you quickly identify areas where you can duplicate patterns. One of my favorite spring techniques is throwing a crawdad Strike King Series 4 crankbait along steep, rocky banks. I can take my highlighted maps and quickly identify banks that have the






  potential to fit this pattern.

Do not look at map study as being a boring waste of time. Look at it as one of the easiest ways you can gain an edge over fellow anglers and the bass themselves.


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