Sliding Off Structure

with Jeremy Smith

sliding off structure

Sliding Off Structure: Catching fish that move due to fishing pressure

Large offshore structures with cover on them provide food and hiding spots for a variety of fish species. That makes these spots loaded with life, often including numbers of big fish. Especially if they are isolated from other structures, these underwater islands and humps function like self-contained ecosystems within the larger body of water. Plankton wash to them on currents, smaller baitfish following floating food sources arrive and settle, and larger predator fish do the same.

If you were the only one to ever drive a boat over them or fish them, you would have a lifetime of cherished fishing memories awaiting you.

Trouble is, the cat’s out of the bag and everybody and his brother-in-law can see these potential hotspots on a contour lake map. And with today’s advanced GPS units and digital maps, multitudes of anglers can identify these fishy-looking spots and drive their boats right to them on the first try. That, in recent times, has increased pressure on these places.

What that can mean: presentations and locations that produced steady action in the past go unbit. You wonder what’s up with your favorite spot.

The answer is found in human pressure. Boats and fishing lures invading the natural rhythm of life create too much chaos and fish react to it by avoiding the human contact. And, ironically enough, the fish you seek might be pretty much right under your boat as you hold back and fire cast after cast to the weeds, rocks, boulders, and pockets that used to hold so many biters.

Sliding Off Structure: Backing Off Pays Off

We can become so focused on fishing objects like structure-cover combinations that we lose sight of the fact that fish don’t always have to relate to such things. In response to human pressure, fish can ‘slide off’ structure, typically at the same depth they were holding when relating to the cover. That puts the fish ‘over’ deeper water, but not ‘in’ deeper water. By sliding off structure you can actually catch more fish than you would have on the piece of structure itself.

Talk about hiding in plain sight!

Learn to look for these fish using sonar including side imaging. Because they are elevated off bottom, they are usually easy to spot on the display. So when the bite goes quiet on such a spot, suspect that fish have done the sliding move. Hold your boat out in deeper water––maybe a long cast from where you used to hold––and cast repeatedly, landing your lures about where you used to hold your boat. Use the same lures and presentations that had produced in the cover. You can also troll around these spots, covering various distances from the cover.

If the fish are there you should catch some. And by sliding off structure it’s highly likely that you will have the new spot all to yourself.

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