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Hunting for Hawg Water 
by Eric Jex
 

You often hear anglers talking about covering as much water as possible to find fish or patterns. While many anglers look for a pattern within the pattern once they find a few fish. Others may find that covering a lot of water is the pattern. As with any style or strategy to fishing, conditions will always play a major role in the choice of baits and techniques used when “fishing fast”. I think the key is finding away to thoroughly, fish while covering as much water and quality cover as possible.

In a perfect world we would all love to find that spot on a spot that produces quality bass all day long. Never cranking up the big motor and using as little gas and time as possible to find more fish is perfect; however this situation rarely presents itself throughout a lifetime of fishing. Therefore we are constantly on the hunt for the next spot. I often hear the phrase “don’t leave fish to find fish”; this phrase is applicable if the fish you have found are the fish you are looking for. However sometimes I think we get hung up on catching fish, instead of catching good fish. Knowing I’m probably going to sacrifice the number of fish I catch, I would rather search for larger bites. This is why my favorite “pattern” on some days resembles a good hunt as much as another day on the lake.

Time of Day
Different times of day present different opportunities and require different techniques to "hunt" down quality fish. Early morning and late evening when the sun angle is at its lowest presents the opportunity to fish faster and cover water looking for roaming hawgs. No matter the time of season I like to start off the day by fishing flats and grass or rock covered points. By utilizing spinnerbaits, topwater and crankbaits I can cover more water while thoroughly fish high percentage targets. Those targets may include a small points and inside turns of grass lines, a particular set of boulders or an irregular piece of cover in the area. On northern natural lakes where the water is typically clear I like to make long casts across weed or rock points that dip quickly into deeper water (15' or more). An irregular form of cover makes the spot even better; it could be reeds, pads, milfoil or some combination of these. Overcast days allow you to work this pattern longer throughout the day.

As the day moves on I typically take a slower approach to fishing a particular spot. Jigs and plastics typically are my go to baits once the sun gets up and the fish hunker back in to their layers. I will jump from spot to spot hunting for large or small areas that I think have a better chance of holding hawgs. While I may be fishing slowly, I still like to cover water and fish as many spots as possible.

Runnin and Gunnin
I typically find myself looking for very small and specific areas to fish. It could be a small irregular patch of weeds or rock, or it could be one or two downed trees in a particular area. I have stopped the boat to fish one good looking dock. Once I reach the piece of cover I fish it thoroughly making sure to hit every nook and cranny. I'm looking for one good bite, however after getting that bite I may stick around and continue to work it. I've had numerous instances where I pull a solid fish from a piece of cover only to catch a bigger fish from the same area a few casts later. On a river I may swing back and fish one small piece of cover or chunk of bank over and over hoping it has replenished. I will do the same on lakes if I do not catch anything the first or second try. In a natural lake situation I have never had much success going back to spots like this after catching a fish or two and leaving. It seems to take a day or two for another fish to position itself in the area.

This style fishing really forces you to concentrate and take advantage of every bite. Catching fish after fish all day long typically isn't the case when I'm employing this technique. Rather I'm hoping for two or three really good fish throughout the day. This can make for some rather long stretches of time without a bite, followed up by a five minute period of heart pounding battle with some of lakes finest specimens.

Favorite Spots
This technique can be much more efficient if fishing a familiar body of water. However, I love to take this approach when on new water as well. So what I am looking for on a new body of water? My favorite spots include small areas with heavy weed cover. Small sections of reeds, almost any pads and small out of the way shoreline cover make up my favorite areas on natural lakes. I love spots that take some work to fish; the more difficult it is to get to an area the better. I often find myself getting out the push pole to into or out of an area, wondering if other people around are saying "no fish is worth that". Depending on the time of season I also like to fish deeper spots that have unique features. Thicker clumps of weeds, different size rock, or a combination of the two make for great areas to finesse fish quickly.

Reservoirs present the opportunities to fish random rocks, stumps and other timber. If it looks like a "bassy" area and I can flip a jig, tube or creature bait to it, it makes a great piece of cover.

There is no doubt "hunting for hawgs" is not the most efficient way to dissect a body of water, but it can be extremely productive. I don't believe in the old saying "where there are little ones, there are big ones"; with Largemouth especially.  I believe they are a much different fish than the smaller specimens. Every once in a while you'll find a pattern within a pattern that produces in numerous areas. Hunting down big fish and finding that pattern can make for an extremely fun day on the lake!