Fishing flooded cover

Updated: August 31, 2006, 11:26 AM ET
By Mark Hicks | BASSMASTER Magazine, September/October 2006
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Rainy weather can turn bass on and make them easier to catch. But you don't want too much of the wet stuff. Fishing gets tough when monsoon-like rains pour down day after day. Muddy water gushes into creeks and rivers, and reservoirs swell beyond full pool levels. The result is flooded cover, one of those inevitable wild cards every tournament fisherman must face.

No change is more dramatic than when a reservoir floods its banks and seeps into forests, fields and the yards of lakeside homes. If the water stabilizes above full pool for several days, bass will move up past the inundated shoreline and into terrestrial habitat that's normally home to squirrels and rabbits.

The biggest problem is the overwhelming excess of cover. When bass scatter into flooded woodlands, for example, they can set up next to any stump, tree, log, windfall or bush in a virtual maze of similar cover. It is grossly inefficient to fish every potential bass lair you encounter. How do you improve your odds?

That's what Elite Series angler Brian Snowden of Reeds Spring, Mo., was asking himself when he fished a large, open tournament at Truman Reservoir in June 2001. Torrential rains before the tournament had raised Truman 20 feet above normal pool, and the muddy water reached far back into trees that normally stand on dry land.

During practice days, Snowden forged into the flooded woodlands with a flippin' rod and tried to piece together a place or pattern that would hold up when the tournament started. He soon realized this was futile. While most of his competitors continued fishing in the trees, Snowden left and searched for isolated cover.

Isolated Cover

"Isolated cover eliminates needle-in-a-haystack fishing," Snowden says. "It limits the places where a bass can be."