Bank fishing presents advantages, as well as challenges. Boat fishermen have the luxury of access to every acre of water. Offshore spots are many times beyond the distance a casting rig can reach, but a boat gives a fisherman the ability to quickly adapt from shore to the depths. With todays electronics, a wealth of information can be obtained regarding a body of water. Depth, fish location, and bottom content are easily identified and displayed on screen. Depth finders are now available that can be used from shore. However, if you don’t have one there is a way to get a rough guess of some of this information. It’s not as good as having electronics, but it will work in a pinch. This method starts with a simple jig head, and a small amount of math and physics.
To figure out depth, first tie on a jighead to your line and use a rod that has a spinning reel. I prefer an 1/8 ounce head but you may prefer heavier jigs for depths beyond 20 feet. Now, find an area close to shore where you can visually estimate the depth. I aim for 5 feet if possible. Now cast your jig to this spot and as soon as the jig hits the water begin to count in seconds. A timer can also be used but isn’t needed. Allow your line to freely spool off of the reel and watch the line. When the line stops, stop counting. For this example, lets say it took 1 second to drop 5 feet. This means the jig falls at a rate of 5 feet per second. Now cast out farther. This time it takes two seconds to reach bottom. This means that the depth is 10 feet. By casting all around you, you can get a basic idea of how the bottom lays out, regarding depth, drop-offs and bars.
Bottom content is a little trickier to detect. For this I use a heavier jig, at least a 1/4 ounce. Cast out and allow the jig to hit bottom, and then slowly reel in the jig. You want as much bottom contact as possible. A rocky bottom will feel differently, and the size of rock will even change the way it feels as you reel it in. Gravel will pull slightly, while bigger rocks will grab harder and snag easier. An isolated snag can be from a rock pile or tree. Weeds will be more of a soft pull that hangs on more. By casting along a shoreline, you can find weed edges by finding out where the weeds end.
Try out this technique next time you fish from shore. You may be suprised about what you find at your favorite fishing holes!
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