Arizona lakes do not have a lot of cover, so our bass are structure-oriented. Knowing what structure is and understanding how bass relate to it will improve your ability to find and catch them.
Structure is an area where there is a change in the contour of the bottom. It can be a point, a submerged hump, a channel edge or other similar contour change. Many times, the word structure is incorrectly used interchangeably with the word cover. Cover is an object found on structure to which bass are attracted, such as a rock pile or submerged brush. Cover on structure, such as a rock pile on a point, can make a great fishing spot.
Structure often concentrates bass by compressing baitfish schools, providing an ambush area, or being close to deep water. For these reasons, bass seldom stray far from structure. Learning how bass relate to structure and being able to find structure will increase your ability to catch bass. Sometimes, fishing structure can move you away from shorelines to water that may seem devoid of fish on the surface, but what lies underneath can be a fishing hot spot.
Finding structure can put you on fish, but there is no guarantee that you can catch them. Structure can be a feeding area, but if there is no food available, it likely will not hold fish. Weather conditions and seasonal patterns are also important parts of the larger equation of finding fish.
Food and environmental factors impact the mood of bass and how they relate to structure. A common misconception is that if bass are not directly on top of structure, they are not there or are not relating to it. Generally, bass "on" structure are usually aggressive, while bass suspended "off" structure are less aggressive or in a neutral mood, resting between feeding. Bass "off" of structure are still relating to it and catchable and may be keying on nearby baitfish, so you should fish both the actual structure as well as the surrounding area.
Once you have found structure you think will hold fish, take your time and fish it thoroughly. Use a combination of lures that will cover a variety of depths. Many anglers work large structure too fast, and if a big bass is relating to a certain special area on the structure — that “spot on a spot" — you might fish right pass that trophy of a lifetime.
The Desert Flycasters will meet at 7 p.m. today at the American Legion Post No. 2, 2125 S. Industrial Park Ave. in Tempe. They will be reviewing a variety of fly-fishing gear. Join them for dinner at 6 p.m. for only $8. For more information call (480) 654-6111.
P.O. Box 859, Mesa, AZ 85211