What the heck is secondary cover?

fisherman fishing for bass near a boat dock

I feel like I might have totally made up this term. I don’t know how else to describe it, so I guess I’ll just stick with it. But here’s the deal about secondary cover.

As I mentioned, spring fishing pressure really jacks up the bass. Others may disagree with me but I’m a big believer that they’ll bolt if a bunch of folks are divebombing baits around ‘em all day long. Instead of fishing the obvious stuff you can see with your eyes such as boat docks, shoreline vegetation and the like, I like to fish the stuff in front of those things in just a bit deeper water—the kind of cover you can’t really see with the naked eye. I call that secondary cover.

Whether it’s a brush pile in front of a dock, a stump row 10 feet in front of a grass bed or a laydown that has rotted away from its stump and essentially slid down into deeper water, these hidden pieces of cover have an almost-unbelievable ability to attract and hold giant female bass throughout this time of year.

I started figuring this deal out when I was fishing tournaments a bunch several years ago. We have some huge tournaments around here and as you can imagine, it turns into a maddening game of “musical boats” after an hour or two. I’d ride into the creek I’d be wanting to fish and there would be bass boats on every single piece of good-looking shoreline cover; that’s absolutely no exaggeration. It felt like no matter where I fished, I was fishing behind someone and it drove me nuts.

Over time, I started to realize that all those bass boats were driving a lot of the bass nuts, too. In order to perform worth a crap in these tournaments, I felt like I needed to change up my gameplan.

Where most boats would be casting to the bank, I started looking for cover underneath where most boats were sitting, if that makes sense. So instead of fishing 2 to 4 feet of water like most folks were, I’d target stuff in the 6- to 10-foot zone.

This was long before the forward-looking sonar stuff out there these days, so I ended up finding most of my favorite secondary cover with either a medium-diving crankbait or a Carolina rig (gross, I know). And sure enough, I’ve probably caught 90 percent of the biggest bass of my life on these kinds of areas.