How to Use Wood to Find Largemouth Bass

If you want to know how to find Largemouth Bass, you need to be familiar with the types of cover the species most often utilizes. When it comes to cover in the world of bass, wood ranks high on the list. In fact, it’s right up there with submerged weeds, lily pads and rocks. Basically, if it’s wood, it’s good—potentially.

The problem is that examining all the types of wood that may provide cover for bass is almost like looking at the buffet at the Mandarin; it can be difficult to know where to start. But once you know where to start, a savvy angler can easily use wood to find Largemouth Bass.

Here are some common examples of wood that bass (mostly Largemouth, but sometimes Smallmouth) often live in, amongst or under:

  • Docks
  • Boat Houses
  • Swim Rafts
  • Cribs (usually stone contained by wood)
  • Logs
  • Stumps
  • Hanging Branches (live)
  • Dead Trees (laydowns)
  • Standing Timber (yes, it does exist in Canada, too)
  • Brush Piles (usually submerged, often man-made)
  • Buck Brush (brush growing along the shoreline)
Fallen trees and wood on bank
Sometimes finding wood is easy. Years ago, while fishing in the Kaladar area of Ontario, we found this stretch of bank. This picture indicates a must-hit Largemouth scenario.

Wood Is Easy To Spot… Sometimes

Standing timber, boat docks, large dead trees and low hanging branches are some of the easy wood targets to zero in on. The little hidden gems, however, are usually the most productive pieces to hit; an underwater stump, a waterlogged multi-limbed branch or a sunken log can be unbelievable bass domains. Bass anglers need to be 100% aware of the area they are scouting/fishing and look for little, out-of-the-way pieces of wood that others may not find.

Wood Tools

Your number one wood-locating tools are your eyes using polarized glasses. With good vision aided by a glare-free view, seeing submerged wood becomes almost a breeze. Almost.

Number two is a quality sonar/chartplotter with ClearVu and SideVu capabilities. Wood like submerged trees and branches show up so well on ClearVu that it almost looks like it is hand-drawn on the screen. There’s no mistaking it.

Regardless of how you find the wood, once you find it, you’ll likely find Largemouth Bass as well.

Garmin SideVu
Here is a shot from the Garmin website demonstrating the clarity of their SideVu technology. Many types of wood can be easily identified with it.

Lately, we have also found wood with Garmin’s LiveScope. Again, the image is stunning.

Garmin LiveScope Underwater Tree
Modern-day sonar makes understanding what’s below the boat a breeze. Here is a LiveScope screengrab of a deep, standing tree.

What Bait Do I Use In The Wood?

When fishing in the wood for Largemouth Bass, it’s hard to beat a Flipping Jig and trailer. Depending on the quality of jig, it should pull through branches like no other bait. Some quality alternatives are craw/beaver/creature baits, as well as plastic worms and soft stick baits. The key is making sure they are weedless. A full Texa-rigging with plastics is necessary (as opposed to Texposed). Also, make sure you peg the weight so it does not slide up the line—this is very important.

Texas Rigged and Texpose Rigged Baits
You need to have a completely weedless presentation that can be smacked around limbs, etc. while fishing plastics in gnarly wood. A Texas rig is the deal here, with the hook point fully hidden in the worm’s body. The problem with Texposing is the hook point can pop free with the slightest contact, then snagging into the wood.

Find Wood, Find Largemouth Bass

In this companion piece, Fish’n Canada co-host Pete Bowman demonstrates exactly how he identifies primo wood cover to find Largemouth Bass.

I went out on a recent Saturday morning—a hot, beautiful, sunny day—and really did not have a starting idea nor a game plan. I was just wingin’ it.

The fishing was… not good.

Sunday, however, had the remnants of a storm going through with a bit of an east wind and a touch of rain. Knowing that, I grabbed my Jig & Pig and committed to throwing that for the full morning. In tough conditions, a jig is a solid bet.

Jig & Pig
As weird or downright ugly as this may look to some of you, a “Jig & Pig” is an awesome bass bait.

Since I’d seen a couple of nice fish in the wood on Saturday, I was going to concentrate on hitting that type of cover. (Of course, if anything else was easily accessible, I’d pitch to it as well—I don’t like to miss opportunities by limiting myself.)

My jig in the wood idea paid off with a beauty of a Largemouth. I finally got one!

Check out the video above and remember: Find wood and you’ll find Largemouth Bass.

14 Replies to “How to Use Wood to Find Largemouth Bass”

  1. After reading Pete’s very informative article I had to ask myself a few questions. Specifically, “Why does wood attract Bass other than the obvious reason of cover?” Secondly, “Is their some sort of chemical reaction or nutrient involved here?” I think I have found the answer. “Wood Oxidization!

    Wood oxidation is the result of years of exposure to the elements and causes unsightly markings on the wood’s surface. Oxidation is the when a chemical element or compound comes into contact with oxygen. In chemical terms, oxidation is the result of atoms losing electrons. As a result, oxidation causes physical changes to objects such as wood and metal. Wood comes into contact with oxygen through a myriad of channels such as rainy weather, overexposure to sunlight, windy conditions and being submerged in water. Oxidation occurs on building doors, garage doors, roofs and outdoor decks.

    From this article we would be referring to Docks, Boat Houses, Swim Rafts, Cribs (usually stone contained by wood), Logs, Stumps, Hanging Branches (live), Dead Trees (laydowns), Standing, Timber, Brush Piles (usually submerged, often man-made andBuck Brush (brush growing along the shoreline) as Pete has mentioned. When wood constantly comes in contact with oxygen, such as in water (H2O) the wood experiences weathering and, over time, deteriorates and loses its coloring. The United States Department of Agriculture says the woods most susceptible to stains are oaks, cypresses, cedars and redwoods due to their large amount of tannin-like extractives. * Remember that element, “TANNIN” *

    Tannins (or Tannoids) are a class of astringent, polyphenolic biomolecules that bind to and precipitate proteins and various other organic compounds including amino acids and alkaloids. * Now where have we heard PROTIENS and AMINO ACIDS before? * You do recall, I mentioned them in my previous comments and how these elements attract fish? Every living creature craves them for survival.

    Tannins are found in leaf, bud, seed, root, and stem tissues. An example of the location of the Tannins in stem tissue is that they are often found in the growth areas of trees, such as the secondary phloem and xylem and the layer between the cortex and epidermis. Tannins may help regulate the growth of these tissues. In all vascular plants studied so far, Tannins are manufactured by a chloroplast-derived organelle, the Tannosome. Tannins are mainly physically located in the vacuoles or surface wax of plants. These storage sites keep Tannins active against plant predators, but also keep some Tannins from affecting plant metabolism while the plant tissue is alive; NOTE : It is only after cell breakdown and death that the Tannins are active in metabolic effects.

    The leaching of highly water soluble Tannins from decaying vegetation and leaves along a stream may produce what is known as a blackwater river. Water flowing out of bogs has a characteristic brown color (Tea Colored) from dissolved peat Tannins. * You will notice this is true in water Pete is fishing. *

    This brings to light another important point. The presence of Tannins (or humic acid) in well water can make it smell bad or taste bitter, but this does not make it unsafe to drink. Humic substances are organic compounds that are important components of humus, the major organic fraction of soil, peat, and coal (and also a constituent of many upland streams, dystrophic lakes, and ocean water). Humic matter in isolation is the result of a chemical extraction from the soil organic matter or the dissolved organic matter and represent the Humic molecules distributed in the soil or water.

    Organic matter such as these soil amendments have been known by farmers to be beneficial to plant growth for longer than recorded history. However, the chemistry and function of the organic matter have been a subject of controversy since humans began postulating about it in the 18th century. Until the time of Liebig, it was supposed that humus was used directly by plants, but, after Liebig showed that plant growth depends upon inorganic compounds, many soil scientists held the view that organic matter was useful for fertility only as it was broken down with the release of its constituent nutrient elements into inorganic forms. At the present time, soil scientists hold a more holistic view and at least recognize that humus influences soil fertility through its effect on the water-holding capacity of the soil. Also, since plants have been shown to absorb and translocate the complex organic molecules of systemic insecticides, they can no longer discredit the idea that plants may be able to absorb the soluble forms of humus;[31] this may in fact be an essential process for the uptake of otherwise insoluble iron oxides.

    A study on the effects of humic acid on plant growth was conducted at Ohio State University which said in part “humic acids increased plant growth” and that there were “relatively large responses at low application rates”.

    A 1998 study by scientists at the North Carolina State University College of Agriculture and Life Sciences showed that addition of humate to soil significantly increased root mass in creeping bentgrass turf.

    Yeah I know! All this scientific phenomenon may seem a bit long winded but, I am talking Proteins and Amino Acids. Two important elements in nature that ever living creature requires for survival.

    As Pete stated in his opening paragraph, “If you want to know how to find Largemouth Bass, you need to be familiar with the types of cover the species most often utilizes. When it comes to cover in the world of bass, wood ranks high on the list. In fact, it’s right up there with submerged weeds, lily pads and rocks. Basically, if it’s wood, it’s good—potentially.

    Yeah Pete, wood is “Good to the last drop!” In more ways than one — potentially!

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