Riege: Cover or Structure?

Published 10:22 pm Wednesday, August 3, 2011


Walleye fisherman and bass fisherman have debated for years about what is more important structure or cover. Structure for most fisherman are creek beds, drop-offs, humps, ridges, points and similar changes in the shape of the bottom are structure. Structure provides a route fish follow while feeding and during seasonal migrations and places where groups of fish are apt to locate and establish base areas.

In comparison, objects on the bottom like trees, stumps, brushpiles, boat docks are cover. Cover provides resting and feeding spots for individuals and small groups of fish in areas where favorable structure attracts fish. Cover enhances structure, making structure more attractive or able to hold more fish. But cover usually isn’t structure.

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Some cover may function as structure when the cover forms distinct lines or barriers. Large and solid weedbeds that create distinct edges function as structures while they exist.

Structure provides areas where fish concentrate and move. Cover provides specific spots in these areas where individual fish can be located.

Cover like weeds, wood, boulders and manmade structure attract and hold predators and prey. Walleyes will relate to this type of cover. Anglers should concentrate on presenting lure choices to walleyes even if there might be snags. Lure modification, such as weedless jigs, or running bottom bouncers over rocks are the best methods for presentation.

On any given cover the fish that are the most active and aggressive will be adjacent to the specific cover and will attack the bait as it comes close to the cover. When walleyes hold tight to cover because of change in barometric pressure or fishing pressure the angler has to change or modify the presentation. A perfect example of this is when you stop catching walleyes on a Rainbow Spinner and have to switch over to a light Northland Fireball jig and a bobber combination to dabble in the weeds, instead of running a contour course on the weed edge.

In fact, that is one of the ways that I like to catch walleyes is with a jig and bobber combination. Walleyes are always getting into the deepest weedbeds or floating timber and by attaching a bobber to a light jig I can get back into where the walleyes are located.

With any type of cover it might be important to look for specific conditions that might make walleyes go to the weeds or brushpiles. For example, ask yourself some questions before you start fishing a weedbed. Does this weedbed have a distinct edge adjacent to deeper water? Is the wind blowing into this piece of cover? Are there baitfish present? Does this weedline have points, inside turns, pockets? Does the brushpile offer shade or an obstruction to current? If any of these questions are yes then by all means go ahead and slip on a light jig and add a slipbobber.

Try casting a Thill Center Slider float and a 1/16 oz. Northland Fireball jig, tipped with a leech into a pocket formed by the weeds. Allow the jig to touch bottom. Then pop the jig from the floor of the weedbed towards the sky. Allow the jig to settle down again and then pop it again. This will give you a vertical presentation even if your boat is not over the top of the weedbed. If you find the bottom to be full of tangles or weeds, simply raise up your slipbobber stopper to the desired depth and again make the presentation.

I recommend watching your line while keeping some tension on it. The hit can be seen or felt a split-second before the Thill Center Slider float actually jumps.

To put the debate to rest about cover and structure the answer is that you need both cover and structure to get fish. Cover enhances structure and holds a higher concentration of fish. In the tournament circle and from veteran fisherman this is more commonly referred to as a “spot on a spot”. Remember the cover is the piece of the structure that you need to concentrate on and you will produce more fish.