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One of our goals as fisherman is to catch fish, lots of fish, how many times have you had  one of those epic trips where you caught lots of fish, and wondered why you have not been able to catch fish like that more often, well the truth is you can, you just have to practice some simple rules of eliminating water to find productive water.

Yes, you need to understand how to read and eliminate unproductive waters to find those rich productive waters. I have been doing this for years and it’s helped me catch thousands of fish from bass, catfish to panfish.

The first basic rule to understand in the water elimination process is to look for humps, points, and flats with deep water access, the later is key “deep water access’ this is the on ramp, and off ramp for the open water migration highways fish use. One of the first things you should do is find a topographical map one that you can write notes on would be great. Once you have this and you have studied the topo lines on the map which show water at different levels you can use a yellow highlight pen to draw a straight line over the deepest channels of the lake. Once this is done you can use a darker highlight pen to highlight the points, humps, and flats next to your deep water channels that you have marked in yellow. Now you have completed one of the major steps in the elimination of water process before you have ever visited the lake, you could call it some of your fishing homework.

Topo maps are not 100% accurate and if your serious about catching more fish, then you need to try to take pictures of the lake at lower levels. This can take quite some time. Where I live most of the lakes are high in the winter, and spring, and low in the summer, and fall, so taking pictures is not a problem.

Google Earth is another great tool for looking at a lakes at different water levels. They have a time bar so you can go back in time to see if they have an image at  a lower water level.

Another way too explore the lake to find the key areas is to meter them and take good notes or mark them with GPS to find where the deep channels are in relation to the points, humps, and flats. This is something that will be very accurate and really help you out, the key is to pick small areas of a lake and take your time. Some graphs have map chips that you can install which make it very nice to mark your waypoints on and build a milk run of these key areas.

So doing some homework is key in eliminating water, I have spent hundreds of hours looking at topo maps and reducing hundreds of surface acres of water down too just couple of surface acres or less of productive water, and now I can spend more time figuring out the timing of these areas in relation to fish migration through them.


Mike Long

Mike Long, is well known for monster bass, like the 20.12 oz largemouth bass taken from Dixon Lake in 2001. That fish put him at number ten on the world record list, but it wasn’t his only large fish. He is among a handful of bass fisherman with hundreds of fish over 10 lbs to his credit.

3 comments on “How to Eliminate Water (part 1)

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Mike Long on July 23, 2012 12:53 am

RR, I will do my best to spell check all my articles and reviews.

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Marco Caetano on August 3, 2012 3:04 pm

Hi Mike! I love your website!

I just have a question: In a small shallow lake (deepest areas are from 12 to 15ft deep) with most areas near the bank being “flat” is a rip-rap dam with the deepest water of the lake just in front of it a good place to look for big bass?

Thanks in advance!


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Mike Long on August 3, 2012 5:54 pm

Good question Marco, Yes without seeing a topo map of the lake I would start by the dam and follow the channel and try to find areas where the flat edges first meet the main channel, these will be some of the first areas the bass will visit, using a graph with GPS makes this a lot easier. It is very important to eliminate all channels and determine the main channels from secondary channels, this can take some time and if it’s a very big lake work with small sections per each trip.

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