Knock on Wood

How to target stumps that hold big largemouths.

Field & Stream Online Editors

I've lost more lures than I care to count by targeting stumps in the spring, but that doesn't stop me from fishing them every chance I get. Why? They're baitfish magnets, and hungry bass traveling to and from spawning beds pause beneath their gnarled roots to rest and feed. Plus, stumps are easy to recognize on a depthfinder screen. But there are thousands of them in most impoundments. I don't cast randomly at any I stumble across, and neither should you. Good fishermen pay attention to the spawning cycle to hit the stumps most likely to hold big bass.

Prespawn
Stumps on the edges of channel bends and junctures in teh main lake hold bass before the fish start moving toward spawning areas. Probe these with 1/2 ounhe, black-and-blue jig and pig. In clear water, hover a jerkbait or slowly retrieve a sublt-action crankbait over them.

Transition Game
As bass move into tributaries on their way to their spawning grounds, they often pause to rest and feed in isolated cover on secondary points and creek-channel intersections. Bump stumps in these places with a jig-and-pig, a crawdad-colored crankbait, or a 6-inch, junebug-colored lizard rigged Carolina-style.

Stage Presence
Just before the spawn, bass will stage in stump rows found along the edges of shallow channels high in the arms of tributaries. Tap a jig-and-pig or the lip of a fat, shallow-running crankbait in a crawdad color off the stump tops.

Bed Time
In many old reservoirs, where upstream shallows are covered in soft silt, spawning bass will lay their eggs on the hard surfaces of stumps and their roots. Flip a black neon and junebug¿¿¿colored Texas-rigged tube or lizard on top of a stump and let it lie there, twitching. Don't retrieve too quickly-you want to keep it in the area for as long as you can.

**The Morning After **
If you found stumps holding bass during the prespawn, try them again once the fish leave their beds. Largemouths stop briefly to rest and feed at these same places as they head back to the main lake.

Stumping for Strikes
A good way to attract bass that may not otherwise see your bait is to cast close enough to a stump for your lure or sinker to bang against it. If you're using a heavy jig or plastic bait, don't retrieve it too quickly. I've had great success by hanging my line over a stump and twitching it so that my lure bounces off its side. You'll lose hardware fishing this way, but you'll catch more fish.