Good bass fishermen prepare in the offseason in many ways. Tackle preparation is the biggest, of course, but I know if you get one more lecture on how to put new trebles on hard baits during the off season, you’ll probably stop reading. In my opinion, too much time spent on altering what bass might bite takes away from time that should be spent figuring out where bass will bite. The Internet makes this easy during the winter, and I’m not talking about going to forums and reading threads about where Ralph’s guide service has been chucking a crankbait with clients. I’m talking hardcore research in the form of advanced mapping. Google Earth is nothing new, but there is one feature of this free program that is largely underutilized by bass angler, and could possibly be your best off-season tool to get on fish faster this spring.
What I’m referring to is the ability to scroll through Google Earth images by date. See, water fluctuation images reveal a whole lot about the potential of areas during different time frames. In the past, those images could really only be viewed by physically driving around the lake when the water was low, high, or somewhere in between.
After you’ve zoomed in on the cove, creek, or flat you want to check out, click on the date indicator at the bottom left corner of the map. A drag bar will then appear on the top left corner of the map. As you drag along the timeline you’ll notice there are several images of the same location from past dates. By utilizing this feature regularly, an angler could quite often see what the area looks like during different seasons, different water levels and even more finite features like aquatic vegetation cycles. This is especially valuable if the lake gets really low or high only once every few years, and you anticipate one of these scenarios occurring during your visit. In essence, it’s the measure of an area’s past, present and potential future.