After getting a handle on how a fishery lays out, the first thing Swindle looks to do is break down features of the lake based on different seasonal patterns he expects to target, depending on time of the year. But he’s not trying to pick out “magic spots” from one end of the lake to the other.
Instead he’ll start with a small section of the lake and pick out a handful of places he believes to have potential, purposefully trying to avoid the feeling of being spread too thin when he hits the water.
“You aren’t reading a map to find fish, you are finding places to fish,” Swindle said. “Don’t get so bogged down in the fine details when looking at a map. Save that for when you’re actually out on the water. Find five or six places that have the general ingredients of you are looking for, based on the time of year, and start your search from there.”
Over his 26-year career, Swindle has learned his map time is more productive when he keeps it simple. So G-Man focuses on established and somewhat basic details or features he has learned to target based on weather patterns and time of year.
- Winter – “I’m looking for deep water. Tight contour lines indicating steep drops whether it’s close to the shoreline, off the side of a point, or in a creek channel. Bass want access to deep water this time of year.”
- Spring – “I’m looking for flats and protected areas in the backs of coves, both major creeks and smaller potentially overlooked pockets off the main lake for when fish push to spawn. Locate a pile of these areas and think about how they’ll be affected by different wind directions.”
- Summer – “In the summer I’m looking offshore, off the bank, whatever you want to call it. Irregularities along the main river channel, humps, and even long tapering points catch my eye and get marked down as a place to look for structure and fish with my electronics.”
- Fall – “You’ve heard it before, but fall is all about baitfish in the creeks for me. A channel winding its way through the back of a flat creek with three or four little points is the kind of thing I’m looking for. Think about predominate wind directions the area has been getting and how that might position baitfish.“
We could write a 1,000-word article on each one of these seasons, but Swindle stresses to keep your map study more straightforward or universal and dial in to detailed nuances when you get to the lake.