I was fishing with a friend the other day and made the decision to take a break from targeting deep fish at midday. The sun was high, it was blazing hot, and the action slowed on the ledges where we had been pounding bass all morning. We decided to fish along a shade line leading out of a pocket that turned into a bluff wall. We didn’t catch much along the bulk of the bluff, but did happen to pick off two nice fish in areas where we saw cool spring water dripping from the rocks. You’ve probably seen similar seeps coming out of rock walls along the highway if you’ve ever driven through the mountains. I’m always looking for a pattern, so we put 2 and 2 together and ran to another bluff and only focused on areas with dripping water. Long story short, we spent the rest of the day putting together a stringer (including a 4 and 5 pounder) that would rival any of the big ledge-oriented limits that typically win tournaments this time of the year.
I must say, I’ve played the cold-water seep game before for a fish or two, but never as a sole pattern. But after the day we had, I explored and analyzed it and it lead me to believe it’s more than a viable backup pattern on lakes that have a several miles of bluff to work with. I’ve found that there are factors that really help and others that hinder this pattern. Ultra sunny and hot days with a coinciding shad spawn spice this pattern up, while rain causing muddy water with added current makes the drawing power of these spots diminish significantly.
Bait choices vary, but the overall principle is the same; you want baits that move horizontally in the top 1/3 of the water column. I was using a hollow-body swimbait and a swimjig the day I was really catching them well, and the guy I was fishing with was steadily reeling a medium sized jointed wake bait. In the past I’ve had success with a buzzbaits, square-billed cranks as well as other random slow falling plastics in key spots. The biggest thing to remember is that the element of surprise is key for these fish. Many of them are not necessarily feeding, they’re just chilling in the shade and cool water. But they won’t resist the opportunity to feed if they are presented a meal correctly.