July 08, 2022
Is there a better "feel" in bass fishing than setting the hook on a quality fish when pitching a bait into shallow cover? It’s an addictive bite that doesn’t require any fancy electronics or sonar interpretation. Rather, it’s a more instinctive approach, where the angler visually assesses the cover and determines where the bites are coming from. From there, the angler develops a solid gameplan that leads to success for the rest of the day.
The challenge in the approach to pitching shallow cover is often the sheer volume of cover choices in which the bass can hide along a shallow bank or point. However, whether the cover consists of bushes, laydowns or stumps, there are two characteristics of cover that can help you hone in on high-percentage targets, increasing your odds of connecting with the bass. Those two cover types are shade and isolation.
Shade is how bass conceal themselves to ambush passing baitfish; therefore, any piece of cover that casts a stronger shadow than other nearby cover will often house a quality bass. This heavier shade may result from a bush with a thick leaf canopy, a flooded tree top with a heavy limb structure or even a stump angled more sharply in the water than those around it. Also, consider that deeper bushes along a tapering point will have less light penetration, which can sometimes be a factor in attracting bass to that slightly deeper cover type. Whatever the case, train your eye to notice the cover casting the heaviest shade in the area.
Isolation is always key for attracting bigger bass, regardless of depth. This isolation doesn’t mandate the cover be 50 yards away from everything else. It could be the last bush on the end of a point or even a single bush that stands out away from a group of bushes. Sometimes isolation consists of any piece of cover that’s unique to everything around it. An example may include a single bush with green leaves among a stand of bushes that have dead leaves. Bass are usually attracted to anything that is "different," or stands out from the surrounding cover types.
Lastly, I believe the best approach to successful shallow-water flipping and pitching is to make my first presentation the best one. That is, I want that first flip to the shallow cover to go right in the heart of the cover. Bass are almost always going to position in the thickest part of the cover that has the strongest shade and concealment; therefore, by making the first flip to that thickest part of the cover, I’m seeking that instinctive reaction from the bass. By nibbling around the edges of the cover with the first two or three flips, I believe it gives the bass more awareness to the presence of the lure and could lead to them passing up the offering.
Bass in shallow cover is one of the best bites in bass fishing, but one can also waste a considerable amount of time trying to fish through all the cover options. It simply requires a lot of trial and error. However, training your eye to notice shade and isolation should help you get on them quicker.