Fishing shallow stumps

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To quickly define a stump, for those unfamiliar with the term, I’m referring to the base of a tree that is left after the tree has been cut down or sometimes rotted and fallen over. Most man-made fisheries throughout much of the country will have stumps throughout, where trees were growing before the lake was dammed and the land was flooded. Fish like to relate to stumps and do so in various ways depending on the conditions.

One varying condition that matters greatly when fishing shallow stumps is shade. Throughout the day, the shade cast by a stump will move as the sun moves. On a sunny day in the summer, fish will sit in the shade of a stump seeking refuge from the brutal heat. But during the colder winter months, fish will relate to that same stump by sitting on the sunny side, to absorb heat from the direct sunlight. Knowing which side of the stump the fish is most likely to be sitting on is very important and here’s why.

If I throw to the opposite side of the stump from the side the fish is sitting on, I may still catch the fish sometimes. But now, the fish has to swim around the stump and chase my bait down versus simply reacting to it as the bait comes right by it. You never want a fish to have time to consider hitting your bait; you want them to react off pure instinct. Quite often when a fish just slaps at a spinnerbait in muddy water as it’s coming by a stump for instance, I believe that’s because the fish had to cover some ground to get to the bait and couldn’t get a good bead on it or decided at the last second to abort the attack. Whereas, if a better cast was made to bring the bait directly to the fish, it can simply sit there as the bait approaches and strike the bait without having to chase it down.

This is where we often use the saying “hitting them on the nose”, referring to the importance of making a perfect cast to bring the bait right by the bass’s nose so a lethargic fish has to contribute minimal effort. Knowing your higher percentile side of the stump helps greatly increase the odds of you catching fish. But focusing on shade isn’t the only way to key in on this.