I see it all the time on facebook, “Yo bro where did you catch those?” which is usually followed up by an angry retort like “no @&!$ng spot burning!”. For those of you that have not discovered what “spot burning” is, it is when you take a fish picture with some type of notable landmark or clear view of where you are fishing and post it on the internet for all of the world to see. You will then be reamed out by all the internet fishing community for ruining that spot (unless your a charter captain, they are for some reason immune), and I know I have been shamed by Facebook fisherman before for committing this cardinal sin. It is not always easy to find a good “spot” and it can be tempting to just ask that guy you saw who posted the pics of all those keeper fluke he just caught but don’t you want to find the fish on your own? Now don’t get me wrong a network of friends that will share good intel with you is key, and if my friend tells me he just slammed them in the False Hook Channel I am probably going to check it out. You will feel way more manly though if you a find spot where no one else if fishing and start catching fish.
Bottom Contour Maps:
Probably the easiest way to find new areas to fish are by looking at bottom contour maps
which are readily available on the internet at places like www.nauticalcharts.noaa.gov . or you can download the Navionics app for around $15 for your cell phone or tablet. I really like the Navionics app because the charts are much more detailed and you can also mark locations you might want to try and allows you to look for new spots while your doing things like watching the 4th grade concert or a wedding ceremony. Probably the most important thing to know is how to read the lines on a contour map and it is really very simple, the closer the lines are together the more drastic the depth change is. For example in picture 1 is a screenshot taken directly from the Navionics app that shows a channel that drops from about 16ft to 64ft and if you notice between the depths of 16-20 feet the drop is more gradual and from 20ft-60ft the drop is much more drastic.
Now when looking for areas to drift for fluke you are going to be looking for a number of different types of bottom contours that may hold fluke on any given day and probably the most common and easy to find areas are channel edges. Depending on water temps and number of other factors you will typically find fluke hiding near these channels, but the key is to pound the edges and concentrate your drifts on the edge and in the middle of these channels to key in on what depths the fish are located on that day. When the tides are moving these channels act kind of like highways for everything floating around in the bay which includes bait. During the early months like May and the beginning of June you may find fish on the warmer shallower side of the channel and as waters begin to warm you will typically find them in the deepest parts of the channel. With all of that being said sometimes the fish just are where they are, I have had days in the middle of August where I was consistently catching fish in 8ft of water on the shallow flat leading into the channel. That is why when you start your drift try to cover a range of depths until you start to see a pattern of where the fish are holding and then make smaller drifts over a concentrated area.
Another very easy thing to locate on you bottom contour maps are shallow creek mouths that empty out into deeper water. In picture 2 there is a perfect example of one of these shallow creeks 2 ft or less that empties into a nice deep cut where fluke or any predator can lay waiting for food to funnel out. This type of spot is typically one you are going to want to fish on the outgoing tide because as the tide drops the water flows out of these creeks along with all the baitfish, crabs, etc. that have been taking refuge in them.
Humps, Lumps, and Holes:
A key pattern you may be noticing in these spots are depth changes, and if you could only have one thing in a back bay fluke spot where things like artificial reefs do not come into play, it would be a drastic change in depth. Picture 3 shows a nice 2oft hole and fluke tend to congregate around these depth changes for a number of reasons, these areas break up the current flow allowing fish a place to rest including baitfish, holes can provide cooler water during the deep summer months, humps can provide cover for predatory fish to strike from. In Picture 4 you can see an artists rendition of a hump with a fluke waiting on the down current side for his meal to come drifting over his head. The important thing to remember here is to present the bucktail or bait with the current or fluke will know something is not right.
We all know that structure almost always hold fish and in the back bays structure is not always easy to come by but it is there for those willing to take the time to look for it. Structure does not have to mean a sunken wreck it could just be a piece of sod bank that broke off into a deep run or rock pile in the middle of the bay but these areas are almost always home to some type of food source like crabs, mussels, and baitfish which means the fluke are not far behind. Finding these places can be tough, sometimes you just notice something on your depth sounder when your moving along and others can be seen on contour maps like the rocks in picture 5. Most of the time structure like the rocks found on the map take a little effort to find, they are often times not exactly where they are shown on the map and sometimes they are just not there or are not there
anymore. With a little effort though many of these smaller spots will pay off, the most important thing to remember is to stay focused on that piece of structure and its surrounding area, the further you get from that particular piece the less life you will find.
Choosing Your Spot:
Now that the 4th grade concert is over and you have an entire library of new spots to try the last thing for you to do is choose which spot your going to fish. Often times a certain spot is going to be more ideal for you one day than it is the next. One of the first things I like to do is gauge how the drift will be, now this is subject to change due to wind and tides but if you have a nice west to east 1 knot drift than that channel that runs east may be a good choice. Let’s say its late August and the water temps are very high, chances are you are going to want to fish the deepest holes and channels you can find or vice versa in the early months you may look to fish a shallow flat that drops off into deep water. Another very important thing to remember is to look for clean water, this is actually one of if not the most important factor that is going to affect your fishing. If your not in clean water than you are better off moving on to a new spot until you find clean water, and some days the only spot you do find is going to be the cleanest water you are able to find.
Hopefully this information will get you well on your way to prospecting your own fishing holes, but just remember no “spot burning”!
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