How to Use Wood to Find Largemouth Bass

by Pete Bowman

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.

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