Pictures Start below this post. Near the end of the thread is a post on types and nature of structure and how they fit together for fishing. See the underwater videos on fish and structure (dated 25-03-08)on pg 2 by Dwight and Nate .
Here are links to a number of prior threads covering some of the types and methods of adding structure , cover and materials to ponds . This will serve the purpose until we can fix it for purposes of Common Pond Q&A (archives).
I will add a number of specific links below on some of the questions.
Below is a link to the new Habitat Manual from the Southern Division of The American Fisheries Society. It is a great resource for info on and building of cover/stct. I think you will enjoy this and get some ideas including drawings/pics.
If you have water depth fluctuations or will fish in fall through spring (as well as summer) then some deep cover is good. I like cover that goes from the bottom at 15ft all the way to or near the surface in a few locations.
NOTE THESE NEXT FIVE LINKS DO NOT WORK - SEE ALL THE STRUCTURE LINKS AND PICTURES FURTHER DOWN Artificial man-made structure.
See this excellent article about structure and how it relates to primarily crappie and it include structure info about other sportfish species. Plastic & rubber structure are compared to natural cover that slowly decomposes. It also has some very good info about stake beds http://magnoliacrappieclub.com/articles.asp?ID=4
Burger here are the 2 articles on structure I promised some time back to find and post. I am going to put it in the structure archive also.
Structure Fishing 101 By Paul Crawford If there has been any real revolution in fishing over the last 20 years, it's been "structure fishing". Bass fishing as a sport, depended on shallow water "bank beating" since it's inception. Over the last 20 years, it has become fashionable to wander off shore in search of more and bigger fish. Much has been written and discussed, but there still seems to be some confusion over structure fishing, even among the pros, and the majority of the fishermen have just become off shore fishermen, not structure fishermen. Let's look at what we mean by structure fishing, and some of the tricks of the trade. The definition of structure is a change in bottom contour, (I.e. depth), which results in an irregular feature on the bottom of the lake. Now just about any quick change in depth results in some type of structure, a hump, point, ledge, or something. The biggest misunderstanding seems to be the definition of "quick". Quick is a relative term. In a traditional reservoir, this could be anything from a vertical drop to a gentle slope dropping 5 feet over a 30 yard distance. In a natural Florida lake, where it may normally take 1/4 mile to change depth by 1 foot, it may be a 6" deep channel running through a 5 foot deep flat, or a two foot drop over 30 yards. Where ever you find it, structure is another edge in the underwater world, and we all agree that fish just love edges.
Let's spend just a minute talking about what structure isn't. Structure isn't a weed bed on a flat, or an isolated stump, or a brush pile. All of these things are "cover". A weed bed may constitute a different type of edge, both of the weeds and of the bottom composition, but not structure. Wood, whether natural or man made, is just somplace to hide. Likewise, a feeding flat is a place, not a structure. We all have seen times when fish are on the flats and relating to cover. Even during those times, there will still be some fish around the surrounding structure. Even on days when the fish are straying away from structure, they generally won't go that far if they don't have to. Learn to recognize structure and it can narrow your search for fish dramatically.
Now that we can agree on what is structure and what is cover, we can also agree there are times when one or the other seems most important. Deep structure without cover can and does normally hold a few fish, but generally not a great concentration, at least of bass, (catfish and crappie are another story). And we blow by miles of shoreline or shallow water cover every trip that doesn't have a concentration of bass. But put the two together, and you generally will find the fish stacked at least some of the time. The trick then is to know the other variables and be there at the right time. And every once in a great while we can find that honey hole with both structure and cover that have fish all the time, at least until we fish it out and have to find another one.
Types of Structure
We can define structure types by the relationship to the surrounding depths. The basic component of structure is the ledge. A ledge is simply a distinct change in depth. In a southern resevoir, this might be a drop of 5 feet over a twenty foot slope. In Florida, it is most times a drop of 6 inches to 1 foot over the same twenty foot slope. A ledge, by our definition, is a fairly straight line of depth change. Start putting some noticable curves along the lip of a ledge, and you get other structure. A point is a protrusion of shallower water along a ledge. Surrounded by deeper water on three sides, it is the most recognizable and often the most productive type of structure. The opposite of a ledge is a cut. A cut is an indention in the line of a ledge with deeper water surrounded by shallow water on 3 sides. A hump is nothing more than a ledge that wraps around on itself, or an underwater island of sorts. A hump has deeper water on all sides. The opposite of a hump is simply a hole, literally deep water with shallow water on all sides. There are several other types we can talk about, but these are the basic types.
We now have our basic definitions, but we need to put some size restrictions on them, else everything is some type of structure. For instance, the main lake body could be seen as a hole, or simply a round set of ledges. We need to decide which one because we'd like to fish the structure differently depending on which type of structure we call it. As a reasonable guide, let's look for just a second on how fish use structure. Structure, what ever it's form, is a type of underwater transportation system. Fish generally follow a narrow depth getting from one place to another. The advantage of using structure edges is the deeper water provides an immeadiate excape route if you happen onto something much bigger than you. Now just like any road, fish rarely live right in the center lane. More likely, they will be just off one side or the other, which is were the cover part comes in. In any event, for our purposes, the extent or limit of a useful definition for a structure is the depth change itself and the reasonable area adjacent to the drop where fish will wander off to feed. In the case of our hole, a fish might reasonably wander out, say 100 feet into the hole without loosing the advantage of the edge for chasing shad. So, if we assume both sides of hole are good for 100 feet, then anything that is over 200 feet wide, at it's narrowest part, isn't a hole, just two separate ledges. Simularly, if a hole is too small to make use of each side, you have a ditch or a depression, not a hole. Each of these other cases may be useful, but for our discussion, they aren't holes. Apply all of the same comments to the other structures: points, humps, cuts, etc.
Cover and Structures
Even with our size restrictions, we still have a tremindous area to work. But we can narrow the odds by putting one additional restricution on our prime structure. We already said we'd like structure with cover, but let's now say we want the cover to end along the edge of our structure. A point with a grass bed is good. But if the grass bed happens to end right at the edge of the point, then the point is great!
Weed beds in particular are excellent types of cover to either change types, or stop all together right at the lip of the structure. A ledge may have heavy grass in say 10 feet on the top edge, while have either a different type of grass or, even better, no grass at all at the bottom edge. If you work the outside of the weed bed, you actually are working three edges at the same time, the vertical edge of the grass, the edge of the weed bed, and the depth change of the structure. Add a small point or cut in the straight ledge, and you have 4 or 5 edges. This is the kind of high percentage spot worth spending hours to find.
Standing wood is another case of cover at a structure. When you are fishing an old road bed or creek channel and the wood suddenly stops at a particular depth, you get all the advantages of the structure and the cover. I have found it necessary to be careful with defining wood on a ledge. Where you have creeks or roads, you a likely to also have hills or mounds. In this case you need to find a structure on a structure. Just because to the bed runs at a consistant depth, the top edge will, more often than not, rise and fall over mounds or small hills. A gentle slope up an underwater hill may consentrate the fish at a single tree because the depth is 6 inches different than the surrounding trees. If you don't know what depth, it can be frustrating. On the other hand, a slight mount in on one side of a bed can act as a magnet for every fish in the area not actively hunting. Find an area with several of these mounds and you've got your honey hole. Depending on the local botany before it was flooded, you may be able to spot these mounds by looking for a specific type of tree which grew only on a mound or down in a cut. A perfect example is willow trees that would tend to have grown lower and closer to the water level of an old creek than say the surrounding oak trees. Cypress trees are another sure tip off of a change in structure level. You'll read many times about a tournament won fishing a specific type of tree. More than likely, it wasn't the wood type that made the difference, it was depth that type of tree was growing in before the lake was built.
Water Temperature and Structure
We've now established looking for a structure with cover, it's time to chose amoung all structures with cover that ends at the structure edge. This will depend on several variables, water clarity, weather, season, statification, temperature, etc. We could try to consider everything, but for starters, there is an easier way. Most of the changes can be interpreted as water temperature. Like any other generalization, it doesn't work all of the time, but for 80 - 90% of the cases, it works just fine.
The general rule of thumb: "The Colder the Water, The Steeper the Drop." Pretty simple, and it works. During winter and early spring, look for the fish to relate to a steep drop into deep water. This might be from 5' or from 20' into a deep hole, but the fast drop is the key. The fish will move during warmer periods to the upper shelf to feed and may suspend over the hole during those blue bird cold fronts. During summer and well into fall, look for a gentle slope into deeper water. The fish may range a couple of hundred yards from the structure but at least some will be on slope for most of the year. The only tough part about this is they may actually move deeper to feed and return to the slope to rest. But again, for the most part they will move into the cover for feeding while the bait is on the bottom.
Everything else being equal, we still don't know at what depth we should look for our structure. In the Florida Chain Lakes, with different water clarity in different lakes, you can still find structure, with cover, the correct type of slope, and the correct contour in just about any depth. The tie breaker is again water temperature, just not surface temperture anymore. The most productive structure, all things being equal, will be where the structure tops out at the same depth as the thermocline. A thermocline, for those not normally worrying about those things, is a physical layer between two different temperatures of water. This normally exists when the lake is "stratified", or during the summer when there is little movement between the upper and lower water layers. In this case, the cooler water will remain below the warmer upper layers. In the fall, as the upper water cools, it will normally fall within the water column, causing a lake to "turn over", normally tough days to be fishing. Anyway, a structure near the thermocline with appropritate cover, can be a gold mine for fishing.
There are several ways to find a thermocline if one exists. The most obvious, and the most trouble, is to lower a temperature probe and look for a dramatic, (3 - 6 degrees), change in temperature. An easier way is to use your depth finder. A thermocline will reflect sound waves if the temperature change is great enough. Move to deep water and place your unit in manual mode. Increase the gain, (sensitivity), until you see a solid or broken line in the middle of the water column. If your depth finder has the little fish symbols on it, this may take the form of a line of fish around a particular depth. As you move the boat, this line may move slightly up or down, (a foot or so), but should remain pretty close for a given area. Find structure at that depth, and you should find fish. By the way, during the dog days of summer, you may find 2 or 3 thermoclines at the same time. Generally, the fish won't be below the lower one, (commonly about 25' in Florida). If you have 3 or more thermoclines, (more common on reserviors where water 50' plus is the rule), fish the middle one.
The absolute most important thing for fishing structure is your depth finder. A depth finder which can mark in 1/10' or in inches is ideal for this application. Also, you'll find it more comfortable if your depth finder is mounted on the bow with the transducer attatched to the foot of the trolling motor. If you have only one depth finder, mounted on your console, then keep in mind the depth being shown is for the stern of the boat, not directly under you and your trolling motor. Get to be best friends with your depth finder, for structure fishing, it's the most important peice of gear you've got.
Most of the time, you'll find the majority of the fish on the top lip of the structure. The rest of the time, you'll find the fish suspended just past the lower edge at approximately the same depth as the upper edge. Boat position is the key to effectively fishing the structure. Run up and down your structure a time or two and get to know the rate of the slope and where it bottoms out at. Position the boat so at a full cast length, your lure is about 10 over the top edge while holding the boat in deeper water. Keep the boat at the same depth as you follow the contours of the structure. If you find a narrow cut, back off and fish the bottom of the cut as well as moving in and fishing the surrounding lip. If you move over a point, make sure to go back and fish the normal edge line across the top of the point as well as following the point out into deeper water.
While you're fishing the top of the ledge, don't forget the deeper side of the boat. Every 6 or 8 casts, turn around and heave one out into open water. Make sure you monitor your bait on the drop, that's were the bite will be for suspended fish. Pay particular attention to suspended fish around the ends of points and at the corner of flats.
After you've finished a run on a structure's top edge, if it still looks promising, make another pass fishing the bottom edge. Position the boat as close as you can to the top edge, (where you've just fished), and use your bait to "feel" you way along the bottom edge. If the cover stops on the top edge, many times a different scattered grass, limbs, or simply trash will pile up on the bottom edge. If you can't feel anything, and when all else fails, you can count down your lure and get a pretty consistant feel for the depth you're fishing. This is also the pass you'd like to fish straight across points and cuts looking for fish suspended in the middle. In general, this deep water pass will also be your best bet of sticking that kicker you're looking for.
If you think there are some suspended fish in the area, try a long Carolina rig. Instead of simply pulling the bait along the bottom, pop the bait up in the water. As the sinker drops, the bait will actually whip upwards and you can effectively cover 6 or 8 feet off the bottom. In these situations, expect a very light bite and give the bait plenty of time to float back to the bottom before the next jerk. It won't be unusual to not feel anything and simply have a fish on when you raise your rod. You can increase your hook up ratio by gently raising the rod tip and feeling for pressure before jerking the bait off the bottom. This is a prime example of the wisdom of the adage, " The Jerk's Free".
There are a hundred other ways to fish various structures, and there are many more variations of the structures themselves. We'll look in future articles at the more specific structures and techniques, but this pretty much covers the basics. Give structure fishing a try and I think you'll like the results. Like most other techniques, it more a matter of confidence than anything. Given the right situation, structure fishing can open up a whole new world of schools of fish and big bites! See you off shore.
Structure Fishing 202 By Paul Crawford Advanced Structures
In our last article (Click here to read it), we looked at the basics of structures and what to look for in a structure. This month, let's look at some of the more unusual structures that have proven to outperform the normal ledges and holes. These are candidates to be honey holes, that can produce giant stringers on a consistant basis.
An old structure fishing adage, which is all too true, is: "If you are on a good structure and you're not catching fish, it only means there's something better near by." In most cases this will be a difference in the cover. An isolated hydrilla ball on a ledge may draw fish from several hundred yards in all directions. But there is still the odd case, where the cover and depth remain fairly constant, and a "secondary structure" is the bass magnet. These honey holes have the huge advantage of not changing from year to year. Add good cover to a secondary structure and it's almost a sure fire winner. For this reason, these more hidden structures are well worth the time, trouble, and gas to find. Once you've found one, remember it! It can produce fish year after year for you.
Funnels are some of the absolute best structures to be found when fish are moving between open water and shallow flats to feed or spawn. They are the main entrance to a flat and will not only hold a number of fish close, but will replenish themselves by the hour. Funnels are at their best during Spring and Fall, and expecially good for about an hour before and after both dawn and dusk.
A Funnel is an oversize cut in a flat's ledge with gentle slopes on both points and a gentle slope up onto the flat. The most common example of a Funnel is a creek mouth in a resevior where the channel has filled in over time. Most Funnels can be found fairly close to shore and leads into only a few feet of water. Since this is a shallow water structure, cover is common, and since they are often old creek mouths, it's not unusual to have a break in the surrounding cover right at the edge of the structure. On occassion, you can even find the reverse. I've seen Funnels where the surrounding flat is fairly bare due to a hard bottom, but the old silt deposits give a great base for a weed bed.
Don't confuse a Funnel with a simple creek mouth. With a creek mouth, the creek bed running across the flat may be the structure the fish relate to. At the very least, a creek bed makes moving past the creek mouth an attractive option, so you don't see too many fish ganged up at a specific point. But gently fill in the creek bed, and the mouth becomes a Funnel and is the only game in town.
In natural lakes, flooded creeks are merely a rumor. But you can still find Funnels in surprising numbers. Look for the intersection of a ledge and a hole. If the intersection is somewhere in the middle of the ledge and somewhere on the smaller side of the hole, you've got a Funnel. Better yet is the case of a hole or depression which happens to open out to the main lake body. In the younger natural lakes, these spots are a regular feature and is why it's now easy to find boats out in open water.
Funnel size is a matter of choice. Some people like large Funnels with a wide gap between large rounded points. For me, that's more of a case of a twin point with a round ledge in between. My personal preference is something around 100 feet across at most. This gives me a distinct, well defined area to fish that I can cover in about 3 casting lengths. When I'm fishing these secondary structures, I'm looking for a spot, not an area.
A saddle is nothing more that a small ridge that runs between two holes. If you find a hole close to another, or a hole in a flat just off the main lake body, then you've got a Saddle. This is another case where you're setting in the middle of a major underwater highway. Fish moving from one hole to the other, or from one side of either hole to the other, will most likely use the saddle to get there. A difference between a Saddle and a Funnel is with the Saddle, fish only rarely live there. This is a spot when fish are on the move. It's one of my favorite spots on an approaching front when fish are moving around either feeding up or getting ready for the cold weather. Saddles also are a convenient place for fish to chase a school of bait, so it's a great place to find schooling fish in the Spring and Fall.
Use the same rules as any other structure when deciding if a spot is a Saddle or simply the area between two holes. If it's more than say 100 or 150 feet across, it's not really a good Saddle. But also understand it needs to have a definate top or flat, so it can be too narrow as well. A narrow ridge that bisects a hole is a good spot, but not as good as a true Saddle.
Because you're kind of setting in the middle of the highway, not at a rest stop, Saddles must be fished carefully. When fish are moving, Saddles are great. When the fish get where their going, Saddles can burn you in a heart beat. Use your depth finder carefully when approaching a Saddle. If you don't see some marking that can be interpreted as moving fish, don't stay on a Saddle too long. My general rule of thumb is if I can catch at least 1 legal fish within 15 minutes, then I may wait them out for an hour or so. But at 16 minutes after I pull up without a legal bite, I'm a memory.
One of the better known major structures are points. But often, a point is not a pure classical cone extending out into the lake. Sometimes, you can find a protrusion off one side of the point or very near it's base. These smaller structures are secondary points, or a point on a point. There are several wonderful features of secondary points. It will share all of the features of the main point but will give you another location surrounded with deep water on three sides, plus the two inside curves where the base of the secondary joints the primary point. This corner,where the two points meet, is most of the time the honey hole.
This is one of the few times where you can't get too small. A secondary point that extends even a few feet out from the side of a main point can consentrate every fish in the area. Not all of the points extend out at right angles, some of the best go out at an acute angle. The inside corner of an acute angle point acts almost exactly like the Funnel we discussed earlier. An don't be fooled by a secondary point that tops out at a different depth than the main point. A secondary point may extend out half way down the side slope of the primary point and still be a great place if you're a fish.
Secondary points tend to be the way-point on the underwater highway. Fish that may roam over the rest of point to feed will return to the secondary point to rest and digest. In other words, this is where they live. Since fish will be moving in and out of the secondary point, you need to be as well. Mark the location of the secondary point and make a few casts to the three key areas: the tip and both corners where the points join. If you catch a fish, keep at it. If you don't catch a fish, or if you catch one and then nothing, move off the point for a few minutes. After you fish the top and sides of the main point as usual, come back to the secondary point for another pass. Oddly enough, you will often find a secondary point won't really start producing until the fish stop biting everywhere else and move into rest.
One other thing to keep in mind when fishing anywhere you think the fish normally live is to downsize your bait. When fishing structure that congregates fish, they will most of the time be neutral at best, and negative as a rule. If a fish returns home after feeding, he's not likely to want to chase a big crankbait or fill up even more with a 10" worm. I call it the "desert principle." If my wife has just fed me a 16 oz steak, I'm likely to refuse the offer of another one. But give a few minutes after my steak, and I might find room for a brownie. When you fish where they live, go small and slow.
One of the easiest structures to find and one of the lightest fished is a corner. Of course, corners come in two flavors, inside and outside. Both flavors are formed by the junction of two other structures, usually just your plain vanilla ledges. Although it would seem that an inside or out side corner would be about the same, they have to be approached from virtually opposite directions. But they do share one fact, either can hold a ton of fish under the right conditions.
The inside corner is the most common and exists, if nowhere else, someplace on just about every large hole. We're looking for something that approaches a right angle, not just a smoothed out bowl side. The abrupt change in direction is what consentrates fish. But the odd fact is the fish are only rarely right in the corner. The normal case is where the fish live just off to one side, generally along the lower edge. The visualize why this is true, look at how a fish can use a corner. If you're a fish, and hang around just off a corner, chances are fairly good if you wait long enough, another fish will chase something good to eat along the opposite ledge right into where you are waiting. This is known as free food, a huge plus if you're a fish. Now, if you would take the trouble to chase some bait along your side of the ledge, and you and the other fish both get to the corner about the same time, then you both get free food, even better. Turns out, this is pretty much what you find when fishing inside corners. There may always be the odd fish hanging out just off one side or the other, and it's one of the better spots on the lake to find a school of fish during Spring and Fall. Fish don't seem to live on inside corners unless there is something else about it which will hold them there, (brushpiles, hydrilla balls, etc.) It is a place fish like to visit and hunt even when not schooling, so inside corners do replinish themselves regularly. They tend to be one of those good places to know even during the off seasons. Fish around an inside corner are normally aggressive and actively feeding, so you can cover the water with a fast bait and still get most of what's there. Crankbaits and Spinner Baits pulled parallel to one of the ledges work well. I prefer to work a corner from the shallow sides first, and move to deeper water only after covering both ledges for about 50' down either side. Try to cast at an angle along the face of the ledges even after you've moved deep. Jigs and plastic worms work well when emerging from cover on the top of a ledge and working down at an angle away from the actual corner.
The outside corner is just about the same thing, only completely different. Once again you have two ledges that meet, but it's now closer to a point. You would still like a corner that's about a right angle, and a fairly quick drop on the slope would help. But this time, a drop of about 5 feet to a deeper flat would be ideal. There will be a few fish hanging around just off the corner at the bottom of the ledge, and the corner itself is still not all that great. The bigger fish, however, will not be beside the structure at all, but will instead be just off the structure in open water. Let's look at an outside corner from a big fish view point. You're big enough to not need the shelter of the ledge, and drawing back from the corner, looking down one side of the ledge, gives you the best view of the entire structure. The smaller fish will chase the bait along each ledge until the bait runs off the end, at the corner, and all you have to do is wait for it to happen, free food. Big fish are already notoriously lazy, and such an easy hunting spot will do nothing for exciting one either. Expect the smaller fish around the corner itself to be fairly aggressive, but the bigger fish will be neutral. To get the most out of one of these spots, start with the boat out in deep water where you cast will just reach the corner, then work the bait slowly over the deep flat. How far to work it will depend on depth and water clarity, but in clear water, out as far as 50' may still be productive. After working your way around the corner on the outside, move parallel to the ledge and work the bait on a slant from the top of the ledge away from the corner. The outside corner seems to be at it's best during the summer and winter, when fish relate to deeper structure. The only difference between the seasons is the grade of the slope, where you'd like a steep grade on at least one side in cold water..
Humps, Clumps, and Islands
Humps or underwater islands have long been sought as a prime structure during the summer season. Even humps only a few feet across can harbor literally hundreds of bass over and around the slopes. But not all humps are created equal, pick your spot carefully. You're looking for a hump that is high enough to either have cover only on the top flat, or at least have a distinct change in the type of cover close to the top. Small to moderate size humps work better than large humps. And you'd like your hump to be surrounded by a fairly plain flat in deep water, but still have some other type of structure within a couple of hundred feet, so we're not too isolated.
In natural lakes, Humps are another one of those places fish live. Humps are at their best in the middle of the day or night, when not every fish is out hunting. Bass will suspend around the hump as well as burying up in the cover, so a wide variety of lures will work, if you keep them small and subtle. Work all portions of the hump, but pay particular attention to the upwind and downwind sides. A wind current can turn a good hump into a honey hole of legendary proportions.
In reservoirs, current can be the key. Bass will still live around a hump, but may wait until a current is passing the hump to feed. In these cases, presenting the bait drifting with the current can load the boat in a heart beat. A few fish will position themselves in front of the hump, particularly if there is a steep bank on the leading edge. Most of the fish will snuggle down behind the hump and see what drifts by. This is the classic case of free food, and one of the easier lives you can lead if you're a bass. If smallmouths are in the lake, this pattern can work 10 months out of the year, taking a break only during the spawn.
Even if you can't find a true hump, this is one case where cover can comprise structure. A dense, isolated weed bed can make a very good imitation of a hump if nothing else is available. Sometimes you can find a flooded mound of timber stumps that make another good hump for all intents and purposes. Man made objects on the lake bottom, such as old sheds, tractors, or cars can be fished just like a hump if in the right position. I once dove down to find one of my favorite humps was a '47 Ford Pickup in 30' of water.
As with most structures, you can have too much of a good thing. Use our usual guidelines of a couple of hundred feet to distinquish between a hump and an island. Underwater islands are good, just not isolated. Underwater islands are best approached as a single round ledge and more or less ignore the center of the island unless a cover change or some other feature draws you there. There are usually several secondary structures surronding an island such as points or cuts, but pay a bit of additional attention to wind or power currents. The up current and down current sides of an island are normally more productive than the sides unless heavy cover breaks up the current as it flows past.
Fishing structure is more than a passing fad. Structure fishing, particularly in deep water, is a skill that will become required as more pressure is applied to the lakes and fish in future years. It's not a difficult undertaking, it simply requires a bit of thought and a willingness to learn new things. Once you give it a try, I think the success will keep you off shore most of the year. So, see you in the middle!
From the Hands On Structure presentation during PB III.
A method of adding structure to a pond with water. This is an adaptation of the Ray Scott method from the Great Small Waters video. It can be done using xmas trees , buckets of limbs , pallets , or pvc structures. It involves driving a post into the pond bottom and using it to mark and hold the structure items. Using a boat (if unsteady you can use an A-frame ladder to drive the post) to drive the post ( using a shovel or fence post driver or hammer or ax) . After the post is in place tie the xmas trees to the post with small trot line string. Think about how you want the trees to hang in combination. Top up or down , horizontal . vertical and at what depth for each. You can also tie several trees together in squares to triangles (tree tops to bottoms to form and even structure). Then tie and place it over the post. Note after a year or so you can cut the string and allow them to fall to the bottom and tie on new ones. This will form a pile or cone of trees from bottom to top.
Post and trees
Tied to the post
Set to feed over
After they sink
Xmas trees work well for BG cover from predation.
A typical Ray Scott rendition of a pond with this method (pickle bucket method) and ridges , cuts and standing timber etc.
.....started thinking of and sketching some ideas, sorry for the crappy sketches didn't feel like putting in a lot of detail. Please Note that the depths are ideal for my area, it will vary in different parts of the US.
Ditch Structure: allows the bank fishermen more opportunities in the hot summer months and the cold winter months. This also allows the bass to spawn/feed in the shallows and retreat to the deep. I wouldn't put all the trees, brush, rock etc so close together or you will lose every bait you own, its just to give you an idea.
Well Structure: Ideal for the center, most ponds are devoid of Structure in the middle, others build submerged Islands. This gives the fish more ambush and hiding places with varied deaths. The 2nd is for easy entry but also creates more ambush points.
Flooded Timber: A lot of ponds in this area have to be dug out, this leaves little room for standing timer to be flooded. Simply dig holes and place cut down trees in, fill and pack. Imo an island should be added as well.
For some more detailed, advanced reading about sturcture vs cover plus some water weed information plus general info about pond stratification and turnover see this link. It also has a lot of basic information about angling.
Also in the above link read the section about the benefit of weeds in a pond as cover and how they help in maintaining a diverse fish community dated June 29, 2013 Lake On The Brink.
It is hard to duplicate Mother Nature with artificial structure.
The original 20% suggestion for cover habitat usually applied mainly for the amount of vegetation for best production of pond fisheries. For artificial habitat I suggest 10% - 20% of the total shoreline length have cover materials other than or in combination with plants to provide resting areas, shade, and escape cover for fishes. These materials also serve as fish attractors. Suitable materials include: • Brush piles constructed with green cedar trees • Other trees or brush if cedars are not available • Clean rubble, cement blocks, and clay tiles or pipe. All woody material should be weighted individually with rocks and sunk, or several branches or trees may be anchored together with concrete blocks.
Possibly the best attractor is comprised of a combination of several materials which provide both loosely packed and dense cover. PLACEMENT The location of the attractor is very important, but water depth is the single most important factor. Potential Sites: • Points of land which extend out into the water and then drop off rapidly into deeper water are good sites. • Coves or other areas sheltered from the wind are also excellent sites. • In small ponds, the area of deep water near the dam is an excellent spot for fish attractors. • If your pond has a submerged creek channel a structure placed on the edge of it will usually produce good results. Attractors should be placed in water so that the top is not more than four to six feet under water. See Fish IDing link below for best depths. The grouping of attractors is important; groups of three arranged in a triangular design seem to attract more fish than three scattered single units.
Submerged Trees and Brush Piles Other options for natural structures include brush piles, submerged trees, or other natural debris. Turning these commonly found materials into structures are a great way to utilize otherwise useless scraps. You will want to place trees and brush piles in vertical positions rather than horizontal and at a depth of less than 15 feet (figure 3). This will allow fish to be able to use the structure year-round. When structures are placed too deep, the fish are unable to access them due to the lack of dissolved oxygen. It is often helpful to anchor trees, either with rocks or concrete blocks. It is also more effective to group trees to make a larger brush pile than having individual trees spread out. Submerged trees can provide excellent habitat, although not for an extended period. For example, Christmas trees are often used in ponds and lakes as a habitat option but decompose relatively quickly.
The idea is to create as thick and complex a jungle as possible. The final result will resemble a thick mass of long branches extending from the dense pack inside the habitat unit/s. The branches should reach from every depth of every unit in every direction and at every possible angle. If your finished habitat unit looks even vaguely tidy, it needs more work.
Underwater diving studies have shown that artificial habitat of which the fish prefer most, stands a minimum of 1/2 the water depth, with 2/3 or more being much better. Objects standing from bottom to surface were utilized most by the largest number of fish, bugs and creatures.
Last edited by Bill Cody; 09/21/2209:15 PM.
aka Pond Doctor & Dr. Perca Read Pond Boss Magazine - America's Journal of Pond Management
After looking through the archives last year, I decided to try something ewest had posted from a presentation at the PB III conference. Towards bottom of page
Instead of tying the trees to a post, I looped them around a t post covered by a piece of used oilfield drilling pipe. Because of my water level fluctuations, I wanted something that could rise and fall with the water until the trees ultimately sank. I did this last year, and it took approximately 3 months for the original Christmas trees to sink.
Today, I just boated out to the posts, and it took less than a minute to hang 7 more Christmas trees over the ones from last year.
Oil field pipe is cheap, but any galvanized post would do. I just made sure to have it extend 6" above full pool, so the trees couldn't slide off the top.
My CNBG were back feeding less than an hour after all the commotion.
The first two pics are of a finished brush pile on a shallow water point. It covers 20'X40' area, and will be adjacent to a patch of hybrid lilies. Cover and summertime shade.
These pics are of 3 brush piles that were placed in a CNBG preferred spawning flat. It was hard to get a pick of all three, but they're in 6" to 3' of water, and abut 15' apart. They were placed adjacent to hybrid lilies, reeds, and water primrose.
Aside from trimming trees I wanted to keep, having brush cleared and tank dug, these are my first two tank projects. The 75 year old original tank dam had huge mesquite trees and many had to go in order for the dozer to do its job. The dam was nearly tripled in thickness so the remaining trees are not a concern. I don't need that much firewood and don't have a splitter. Rather than push them into a burn pile I saved the large logs. Sure could've used some help that day! Once the tank was complete I made a fish crib and packed it with cedar. Each corner of the crib has a T-post and all logs were tied with fence wire. The cedar "furniture" is held in with 8 cinder blocks via fence wire crossing over the top of the crib. The blocks hang outside of the crib. If the tank gets low enough I will be able to raise the blocks to add more cedar. The top of the crib is currently about 5-6ft from the surface. This area is in oil country not far from where it was discovered a 100 years ago. There are active wells on the property and when we bought the land there was unused oil stuff everywhere. Originally I cut up the PVC lines that had carried salt water and intended to burn them...I believe this is a better use. We have several plastic barrels that had been quail feeders. Rats are determined you know?... I first drilled a 1in hole into a plastic barrel, heated the hole with torch and used a softball bat to expand the hole further. While still warm I shoved a short piece of the PVC in the hole until mostly cool. The 6-8ft limbs all float independently so that during a dreadful drought they will stay in the water. Each limb has a single 4in deck screw about a 8in from the end inside the barrel. The screw acts as the hinge and keeps the limb from pulling out of the barrel. Each limb has a little expanding foam in the outer tips to assist with floating. Probably not necessary. I had a 35lb plate that went in the bottom of the barrel before adding the limbs. It still floated so I filled with 4-5 buckets of dirt and gravel. Using dirt and small gravel allows the limbs to move whereas rock would fix them in place. As the tank filled the limbs appeared to work as designed or at least well enough! The buoy is attached to an old window weight inside a vertical 8ft PVC so that it can also rise and fall with the water level. Now that the tank is full, I wish I had done more. Habitat is much more difficult to add! Now I need a blow torch to cut holes in old deer feeders. CB