Hit the Road for Bass
In most large reservoirs, bass use submerged roadbeds as migration routes, just like inundated creek and river channels.
Sprawling reservoirs are often overwhelming puzzles to bass anglers. With such diverse forms of cover and structure, plus countless other variables, there is a seemingly infinite number of possible bass hangouts. Where do you begin? Start on the bass highway-submerged roadbeds.
Most large reservoirs, and even many small ones, offer these underwater travel ways. Just like inundated creek and river channels, bass use submerged roadbeds as migration routes. The easiest roadbeds to find extend visibly into the water from shore. Less obvious, and relatively unfished, roadbeds must be found with a detailed contour map and depthfinder.
When crossed at a perpendicular angle, raised roadbeds display on a paper or liquid crystal graph as a sharp incline, followed by the tell-tale flat surface of the road, and then a sharp decline. A road etched into a hillside drops off on the deeper side and may have a shallow ditch on the uphill side. A recessed roadbed appears as a squared-off capital letter U. One side of the letter may be shorter than the other.
**Highway Hotspots **
After locating a roadbed, invest time studying it before you grab a rod. Follow the structure with a crisscross pattern and look for features along the edge of the roadbed that bass find inviting, such as riprap, boulders, stumps, fence posts, and brush. Other probable bass hangouts are high or low spots near drop-offs and junctures with other roadbeds.
A location that holds especially high bass potential is where a roadbed crosses a creek channel, creating an interchange that joins two major migration routes. Add a submerged bridge that spans the creek channel, and you have a virtual truck stop for bass. Many bridges stand intact, while others are blown up before impoundment, leaving rocky rubble that also attracts bass.
During your depthfinder reconnaissance, toss out a marker buoy whenever you see something promising. Then go back and thoroughly fish these spots. Cast across the roadbed so you can probe both edges as well as the road itself.
Look for shallow roadbeds exposed to the sun in creek arms, typically along northern banks. Such places warm quickly and attract feeding bass early in the spring and later hold spawning fish. In clear water, bring bass up by working slender minnow baits beneath the surface with a twitch-pause action. Lipless rattling crankbaits also score well.
When bass want a slower presentation, work the bottom with Texas-rigged plastic worms, lizards, and craws, and also jig-and-pig combinations. A Carolina-rigged lizard with a 3/8- to 3/4-ounce sinker can be deadly. Go with a short leader at this time of year, 18 to 24 inches.
Concentrate on the main lake or in the lower, deeper sections of creek arms. Retrieve diving crankbaits that run deep enough to bump and grind over any roadbed you fish. A Carolina-rigged lizard or worm matched with a 3/4- to 1-ounce sinker efficiently probes deep roadbeds. Texas-rigged worms are comparatively slow yet still effective, especially after you’ve found a school of bass.
If bass are deeper than 20 feet or so, position the boat directly over them. Then aggressively hop a jigging spoon off the bottom with a vertical presentation, or doodle (shake) a Texas-rigged worm on the bottom.
Roadbeds in deep and shallow areas produce bass when autumn cools the water. Give top priority to crankbaits, from shallow runners to the deepest divers. Schooling activity near the surface is common at this time, in which case topwater plugs prompt strikes. Here again, you can count on the Carolina rig, jig-and-pig, and Texas-rigged worm.
Fact is, you could fish nothing but roadbeds throughout the year and never lose touch with bass. While it doesn’t pay to get stuck on one particular type of structure, adding roadbeds to yoour hit list puts you on the fast track to bass.