Make a Subtle Point

Using map building (such as Auto Chart) to locate key contour changes that define the “spot-on-the-spot”

I want to look at a key river smallmouth feature that is often overlooked or missed. It’s a subtle, flat point that may be a foot or two shallower than the stuff around it. The proper river jargon is a “push” as these are areas where the current pushes over and constricts the water column. Sort of a vertical “choke point”. Often times, these key structures exist on a larger flat. If they are at the upstream side of that larger flat, all the better.

Stringing Points Together

Often times what once appeared to be just a bland, expansive flat is really a series of flat-points and ditches. Knowing how these lay out only helps you understand how to position the boat and how to present your baits. Otherwise, you will just be randomly “covering water” on the flat. Don’t ask me how I know.

A string of “flat-points” within a bigger river flat.

Structure + Cover

Adding cover elements onto the overall flat-point structure like the picture below is when you start taking things to another level. Figure out where these areas are and you start getting into where and why big smallmouth feed like they do.

Humminbird Helix 7 and Autochart with vegetation overlay

Many of the modern sonar/gps units today will create a map for you while you are on the water. I simply start recording on my Humminbird Helix and after a day of fishing or two, I’ve got a pretty kick-ass map. Way better than I had before (which basically just showed a big shallow area).

I can set the contour lines to show different colors and set them to show 1 foot increments, so even the most subtle structure features pop out. Inevitably I see something on that map that makes the light bulb go on or helps me understand why I had any success that I did.

Structure + Cover + Current

Location and position on big smallmouth feeding areas

The final piece of the puzzle is understanding how current will position those fish. Just taking current into consideration by itself however will only confuse things. You need to understand the whole equation to start making sense of how big smallmouth feed for maximum success.

You just need to convert their success into your own!

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