Out On A Ledge

Deep-water structure fishing can be intimidating—even to an experienced angler!

Casting to a dock or a laydown has its challenges, but at least the angler can see his target, and the shallow water location of such cover typically sets the stage for a quick outcome.

But if you’re trying to fish a classic piece of reservoir structure like a river channel, a.k.a. “ledge,” not so much!

Many a major bass tournament has been won on the ledges, which can be prime holding areas for mature bass in both winter and summer as well as during transition periods. Bass anglers who diligently plumb the ledges are always in the hunt for the “Mother Lode,” schools of big bass who have taken up short or long term residence on channel bends, rock or gravel stretches, or some other key structural element that provides bass comfort and easy access to forage and prime feeding areas.

The trouble is that the big schools of active bass aren’t always easy to find—particularly when a hundred-plus boats of top anglers are staking their claim on classic stretches of structure.

FLW pro Mike Neal doesn’t fret when he can’t locate those highly sought schools. Instead, he looks for conspicuous cover on or near the primary structure with his electronics.

“You may find those mega-schools of big bass on river channel ledges, points, humps and channel swings, and there’s a reason that they get there,” says Neal. “The trouble is those spots don’t always have a lot of cover. So I often look for isolated cover, which may be rock piles, trees, brush piles, standing trees, a stump row. I consider these places I can catch single fish. If I catch two, that’s great!”

His favorite bait for “school-of-bass places” is a Big Bite Baits BB Kicker swimbait on a 1-ounce jig head.

“I’ll throw this in water from 10 to 30 feet deep,” says Neal. “The bait gives them a big profile to see and awesome water displacement.”

His other tool is a Texas-rigged Big Bite Baits B2 Worm, a 10-inch ripple tail worm that delivers subtle action with a minimum of movement. Neal works the bait aggressively until he contacts his targeted cover. Then he slows down and lets the bait do its thing!

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