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How to Find Fish in Transition Zones

Tom Redington

You’ve probably heard of the 80/20 rule before. It’s not always correct, but it applies in a lot of cases. The rule goes sort of like this: On a basketball team, 20 percent of the players score 80 percent of the points. In school, 20 percent of the kids get in 80 percent of the trouble. 

In fishing, we also have an 80/20 rule, but it’s a little different: 80 percent of the fish live in about 20 percent of the lake. 

In other words, you can find a lot of fish in a few key areas. If you know the type of areas to look for, your chances of catching fish go way up. 

One of the easiest hot spots to look for on any body of water is a transition area. It’s one of the first things we FLW bass pros search out when we’re on a new lake, and it usually applies for all species of fish, not just bass. 

Here are a few features to investigate to find transition areas next time you’re on the water. 

1. Shoreline slope: Look for areas where the bank goes from really steep to flatter. Sudden transitions, like the end of a high bluff, are almost always money. 

2. Bottom type: This one is also easy to locate, especially if the lake or river level is down a lot. Simply look for a particular bottom-type change, like a transition from gravel to mud. If you find fish, you’ll probably find more in similar areas. 

3. Depth: A quick depth change (often referred to as a drop-off) is often a key spot for big fish. The type and size of the depth change depends on the area you’re fishing. In a shallow pond, fish might stack up on a 3-foot drop. On a deep, clear mountain lake, drops of 30 to 50 feet could be the deal. 

4. Cover density: Places where thick weeds transition to open water, or where tons of boat docks peter out to none would be good examples of cover transitions. In these cases, the first boat dock or the last clump of weeds would likely be hot spots. 

5. Weed type: Speaking of weeds, transitions in the species of aquatic vegetation often hold fish. Places where cattails give way to lily pads, or where hydrilla changes to milfoil are prime areas to check. 

6. Current flow: In rivers or lakes with current, moving water is normally the No. 1 factor in locating fish. Slack areas next to current flow are big-time fish-feeding areas. Look for eddies or current breaks such as big rocks, humps or points of land, and you’ll find fish near the transitions from fast to slow water. 

 

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