In a good number of bass lakes around the country, stumps are often key spots holding a fish or two.
But on some lakes – Toledo Bend and Lake Fork come to mind – there are almost too many stumps to deal with, a gazillion or so it would seem. So how does an angler go about turning a minefield of too many stumps into a goldmine of bass-catching potential?
Outdoor Channel personality and Bassmaster Elite Series pro James Niggemeyer, co-host of Pro Team Journal by Strike King on Outdoor Channel, says it often comes down to finding a preferred patch of aquatic real estate on a lake map or electronic chart.
"The reality about cover is that it’s usually best in proximity to structure, (underwater contour changes on the lake’s bottom),” said Niggemeyer. “So if there is a point with cover on it, that’s going to tend to be better than a point with no cover on it."
How does that apply to stump fields?
“I heard it once best said by another professional angler that you have to remove the distraction of all of the visual cover that you see, which is the wood, and just basically fish it structurally,” said Niggemeyer.
“What I mean by that is your points, your creek channels, your humps, your ditches and your drains that are on a flat or in a pocket," he added. “The wood actually becomes kind of a bonus, or a cherry on top. That actually becomes another drawing point to the area but that usually just sweetens up an already good area.”
How does an angler fish stumps from a lure standpoint?
At various times during the summer months, a walking topwater bait like a KVD Sexy Dawg, a buzzbait and/or a spinnerbait will all work depending on the conditions, the mood of the fish and how tight to cover they are holding. But oftentimes, there is no better bait than a jig, something that is true in the pre-spawn, the post- spawn and the dog days of summer.
"(At various times of the year), I like to throw a ½-ounce to ¾-ounce Hack Attack jig in either Okeechobee Craw or black-and-blue and put a Rage Craw on the back of it,” said Niggemeyer, an East Texas resident who excels at jig fishing stump-infested water bodies like Fork.
"I’d put it in my hand and probably duct-tape that rod to my hand and just stay with it," he added. "If I wanted to catch a giant, that’s probably what I’d do.”