Eliminating water can be very simple, as long as you follow some basic rules to start off with. Finding points, humps, and flats with deepwater access is a very important start in finding fish. Once you have done this, you’ll find that you have eliminated quite a bit of water and now can concentrate your searches on much smaller areas of the lake and can now really focus on what I call the “key spots on the spot”. These are areas of the points, humps, and flats where fish tend to frequent more often in their migration from deep to shallow water and vice versa. They are areas that are typically not much larger than a bathtub in size, but can bas large as truck. And if you can find these unique spots you may be able to pinpoint exactly where the fish should be within the key spot area. How many times have you been on a body of water and seen someone sit in one general area and catch fish all day long? Well, I would bet that person has found one of the “key spots on the spot”, a key area which will hold fish much longer than most other areas of the lake and most of the time where some of the larger fish of the lake will also be hanging out.
In trying to find the timing of these key spot areas this will depend on many factors such as time of year, time of day, moon phase, sunrise, and sunset, moonrise, and moon set, weather (low pressure, high pressure) wind direction, water currents, and, most important, water level. If the water level gets too low around key spot areas this will push the fish deeper to the next key spot area and in some cases if water level drops too fast it will push the fish offshore to open water where they will suspend till the water level stabilizes and remains at a consistent level for at least 48 hours before they will slowly venture towards the shallow water and re-map it.
In the picture above of a main lake point, the water level is down well over 60′ exposing multiple rock piles all over the lake point. I used this picture because it is a classic example of different rock piles that will hold fish on a lake point. Using one of the first rules in eliminating water, which is looking for deepwater access and finding the rock piles that are closest to deep water or the deep creek channel, will help you in finding your most consistent rock piles on this point throughout the year. But this is only part of the elimination process, after finding structure with deep water access you will still need to dissect it to find where the key spot is on it and try to figure out exactly where and how fish will use it to ambush other fish. So, as you can see in this picture above, finding a few key areas that will hold fish more often than others areas is not so hard. But what areas on these spots will hold fish and why?
In the picture above I used one of my trophy bass replicas to help show how a large fish might sit in a key spot between some large rocks to ambush fish. The picture shows a key spot within a large pile of rocks on a main lake point and if you can find an area like this you’ll load the boat with fish and possibly a fish of a lifetime, especially if you can set up on it correctly. A Global Position System (GPS) can be one of your best tools to use to be able to locate and save waypoints to where these key spots are and to return to them at a later date and set up on them correctly. I always have two GPS settings per key spot; one is where the actual key spot is and the other is where I want to sit my boat in relation to the key spot to be able to cast towards and effectively work my bait through the key spot area.
The above picture is another example of a classic rock ambush area along a lake point where a large fish can sit in ambush waiting for prey to swim by. The large rock in the picture where the replica bass is sitting under provides an area of shade and darkness when in deep water, where a fish can tuck up tight almost underneath it and ambush from the shadow of the rock, almost like a ninja-style stealth attack. Understanding an area like this is very important, one thing that helps is to try to envision in your head which direction fish will use in a key area like the rock in the above picture. This will really help in understanding which direction you’ll need to present your bait on in a key spot and why this is so important to execute this bait presentation properly so your catch ratio on a key spot will be as high as possible.
These key spot ambush areas that a big fish might use more often are not always easy to find. If the water drops low enough once in awhile, you’ll have a chance to walk around and look for these key spots on a point, hump, or flat with deepwater access and save the waypoints with GPS. But, if the water never drops low enough, then an Aqua View underwater style camera is a great tool. If the water is too dirty for an underwater camera, then your underwater electronics are going to be very important in finding these key spot areas. With the new downscan technology it has made it easier than ever to get a more accurate, underwater snapshot image of what structure is on the bottom with a very detailed image that will really help you to dissect a spot to find the “key spots on a spot”. Remember, what you’re looking for is a key spot area. It may be a rock, stump, a steep ledge, etc., but it has to be one of the best spots in the area where a fish can hide and ambush its prey.
In the picture above is one of my favorite types of “key spots on a spot” with just a few large rocks on this lake point and one nice piece of wood where a large fish can get up underneath it in the ambush position. I cannot tell you how many large bass I have caught in this type of of structure situation. It is by far a high-percentage area as long as there is adequate deep water access available nearby.
The picture above shows a very overlooked area. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve overlooked a hard bottom area of a lake. These hard bottom spots in a lake that have deep water access can be very productive, especially if you have a lake with little to no rock structure at all.
Above picture is another example a hard bottom point or reef which can have hundreds, if not thousands, of holes where crawdads and other small bait fish can live. These hard bottom areas that have lots of holes can have an amazing ecosystem that can thrive in a lake as long as the water level is adequate above it.
The picture above shows another angle of the hard bottom point where you can see more of the hiding holes and the ledge area on the spot where the 18 pound bass replica can easily tuck up too and wait in ambush for smaller fish to swim by.
The picture above is another great example of a key spot along a ledge. There are so many overlooked areas in a lake, but once you start to understand what to look for and why, you’ll start finding these areas in a lake and heading right to them and spending more time catching fish and having a great time. Keep in mind, once you have some key spots to fish, you’re now spending more of your time on them instead of spending time fishing unproductive water.
If you look at creek channels as highways and lake points as off ramps to the shallow water and the spots on the spots as rest and feeding areas, you’ll start to really create a vision of mechanics of what’s happening under the surface of the water.
The above picture shows a three-level rock spot on a point that most large fish will use at different times of the day and when the water color, or depth changes. When finding and fishing a spot like this, it is very important to understand how fish will use the different levels throughout the night and day and when the water gets stained and dirty. I have found that if the water was on average ten feet above the large rock, as seen in the picture above, during the heat of the day the fish will be on the lower ledge levels waiting up tight in ambush mode for any prey to swim by. And in low-light conditions the fish seem to be up towards the top of the rock pile moving and hunting for small fish and crawdads.
These two “Stump Spot” pictures are classic examples of very small key structure spots that often get missed and can be very hard to find at times. Once again, this is a 29″ bass replica that demonstrates how a live bass could hide much of its body underwater near one of the stump targets. What I have found is that these type of lone stump areas seem to only hold only one or two fish for brief periods of time. Also, the time of day and sun angle are giveaways of which side of a stump target a fish may be hiding in ambush. And from my personal experience it can be one violent bite if it’s lined up correctly.
In the above picture is an isolated bush that throughout the day can hold numerous fish of all sizes. These bush spots can be hard to fish without hanging up your bait once in awhile, but once you find a good weedless lure you’ll have a chance at hooking fish after fish without hanging up your bait in the bush and shaking it and spooking the fish out of it. Underwater brush can be one of the most productive ecosystem spots you’ll find in a lake. The tall branches will get moss attached to them during warmer water months creating areas where aquatic bugs and insects will live and hunt within the moss and branches. And as for some of the fallen branches laying on the lake bottom can make great hiding areas for crawdads, sculpin, and other small fish. I have found that if these bush spots are at a correct depth per the right time of year they will hold fish all day long. The shadows, once again, play a key role in determining where a large fish might sit within the branches to wait in ambush.
Hopefully next time you go fishing you will be able see things a little bit differently and understand why key areas of a lake are so important and how taking good notes, many pictures, and using your GPS to better mark key spots along with understanding how to use your electronics will help you to better understand how to eliminate water and find that productive water and learn to use the key spots on the spot and catch more fish.