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Working Lay Downs and Timber
Darin Roddick-Small


When working lay down timber on your favorite body of water, there are a couple of different schools of thought on how to attack it. I will try to cover a few of these, along with some of my favorite presentations to work in the wood. Whatever approach you use, you will find more times than not, you will catch fish.

Types of wood cover

Flooded Timber- This type of timber is found in many of the man made reservoirs around the United States . It results from the process of flooding that occurs to make the lakes. Many times, the tops of the trees will either be cut off, or, they will rot off leaving the rest under the water for a number of years to come. You could also classify wood that is washed into our rivers the same way. On some of the rivers I fish, I will see solitary trees off of the main channel, completely separated from the shoreline. Whether in a lake, or a river, these tress will attract both baitfish and bass and should be looked into.

Lay Downs- Lay downs are trees, or branches that have fallen into the water. Most times, these trees will have at least some of the tree on land yet. One of the hardest things about fishing this type of cover is determining how much tree is in the water. I will many times look at surrounding trees that are still standing up and use them to estimate how tall the tree in the water is. I do this because if you look at a series of trees in an area, most of the trees will be approximately the same size while they are growing. This will give you an idea of where the outer edge of a tree is.

Brush Piles and Isolated Wood Cover- This wood cover may be some of the better wood to fish. I say this because many times it will not be visible to the average fisherman. This type of wood cover, may either be placed by other fisherman, or sometimes they may form naturally. Either way, keep a mental note, or GPS location of where you find these in good areas. 

How to Fish Submerged Wood

There are two main trains of thought when it comes to fishing wood. One is not really any better than the other, it depends on what your preference is and partially on the style of fisherman you are. When reading through this, remember to look at the two and see which on better suits your style of fishing.

The first theory is to work the main areas of the tree, the “crotches” and try to get those fish out of there. The reasoning behind this is because many times, these are the high percentage areas where fish will tend to hold. After you work these areas, you would move on to the next tree and the next. I see this as more of a power fishing strategy, using heavier tackle and faster presentations.

The second method would be a slower more deliberate method. In this one, you would work from the outside of the tree to the inside. Here, you would make casts around the perimeter of the tree to try to catch any of the more active fish without disturbing those fish that are positioned on the inner portion of the tree. After working the outside, you start to fish your way to the inner portions of the tree, starting with the secondary branches of the tree, moving to the trunk. In the strategy, you would end by fishing the main trunk up towards the shore. How far in you fish would be determined by where you have been location fish on the tree.

My Favorite Presentations

Although each person will develop his or her own preferences when working wood, I will share what I have found to work for me. I will normally follow the second method that I described earlier, in which I will start by working the perimeter of the wood structure. To do this I use mainly two different lures.

One lure I will work the area with is a crank bait. I like a size that dives deeper than the actual depth the tree is in. This allows the bait to deflect off the bottom and any branches that may have broken off of the tree. Many times bass will strike just after the bait deflects off. After working the perimeter, I like to try to get a few casts into the tree itself. This is an area where many anglers will make the mistake of not placing the bait properly. This usually occurs because they are afraid of losing their lure. Although crank baits will snag easily, there are tricks you can use to not get hung up as often. First, I will always try to work the crank bait back out of the tree parallel to the branches and secondly, I do not burn the bait out of the tree. I will almost crawl it out depending on how thick the tree is.

The second lure I will work the perimeter with is a swim jig. As always, I will use a Brovarney Baits swim jig. The color depends on the time of year and the forage that is available. Here again, I will work the lure at different depths around the tree until I work the entire water column. After that, I will again work this bait through the different portions of the tree. The nice thing about using a swim jig for this is that they do not get hung very often. Occasionally, I will then work the swim jig like a jig and pig and will work it methodically through the limbs.  That is yet just another of the many benefits of using swim jigs.

During certain times of the year, and varying conditions, I will start with a slower moving bait and work inside out with that. There are three main baits I use for that. My first choice is a creature bait that is texas rigged. I will work this on heavy tackle with about 20 pound test line. Close behind that is a Brovarney Baits’ Thumper Jig with a plastic trailer. Most times I will use a 3/8-ounce, but will go heavier if the water is deeper, or there is heavy current. The last lure that I will use is a Salty Sling, or other type stick bait that is rigged weightless.

Other Factors to Consider

Don’t always just look for bass in timber that is located in, or right next to deep water. Depending on the time of the year, water conditions and fishing pressure, bass will hold in or next to timber in relatively shallow water. There have been many occasions where I have caught good numbers of quality fish in water that was 6-12 inches deep, even when the water was relatively clear. On some bodies of water, that is the best cover available without a large quantity of fishing pressure.

Try to look for something different. Often you will find bass relating to one tree in a group of many. It is important to figure out what is different from that tree from the rest. Maybe it is on a point of standing timber, or it has been in the water for a different amount of time. Whatev           er the case, when you figure out the reason, apply it to other groups of trees you find. This will cut down on wasted time fishing lesser trees.

Find isolated timber. Sometimes when you are able to find trees, stumps, or even small brush piles that are alone, they will produce on a more regular basis. This is a reason that I will always pay special attention to what is going on underwater wherever I am fishing. Many times, I will located isolated stumps, or limbs out from the shoreline and will be able to connect with a bass because of it. Don’t overlook a small, “insignificant” piece of wood. Sometimes, these will hold the largest fish.

The next time you are out on the water, try some of these things I have discussed. You may be pleasantly surprised by what you find. Over time, you may even discover that this may become one of your favorite types of cover to fish.

Tight lines and God Bless
Darin Roddick-Small
Futurebass Pro Staff
Brovarney Baits Pro Staff
Venom Lures Pro Staff