A body of water can drop in water level for a number of different reasons. For Californians, the drought is an extreme example of just how much a lake or reservoir can be depleted. Aside from drought, the water in certain reservoirs can fluctuate due to dams, flood control and other human-related actions. As the water level changes, the fish begin to change their holding areas as well. This shouldn’t lower your confidence, however, but instead give you an edge if you understand how to adapt to the situation.
Where Did The Fish Go?
A drop in water level will cause the fish in the lake to relocate, but they don’t always move too far (or deep). Since bass strongly relate to structure, any prominent rock or timber exposed by the water drop will cause them to find similar holding places elsewhere. Points, ledges, humps, and secondary banks are other examples of potential spots that can be exposed during a low water situation.
The baitfish will move with the water level drop as well. You’ll find that schools of bait move into deeper water or stick to shallow structure if accessible. This can be in the form of creeks, coves or points that extend long enough to show potential.
If there is still a decent amount of shallow structure that has not yet been exposed, you can easily find fish in shallower water without having to fish too deep. These promising areas will usually take the form of submerged timber, isolated rock piles and long points. If this type of structure is not easily visible then it’s time to locate deeper, offshore structure with the graph.
It’s completely optional but taking photos of exposed structure can be one of the best ways to fully understand the body of water you’re fishing. The drop in water level could show you structure that you would’ve never noticed before and could give you the edge when the water level rises again. Take the opportunity to get a full visual of where you’re fishing and provide yourself with the best archive of personal information to help you fish more effectively. You never know when that one rock or piece of timber could be holding The One.
What To Throw in Low Water Conditions
Honestly you don’t need to completely change your tactics when the water level is low. Since there may be plenty of other structure in shallow water, approaching the situation can be very similar to when the lake or reservoir was full. Work around points, timber and rocks with a squarebill crankbait or drag a jig around the same type of structure. There’s no going wrong with a dropshot as you can fish deeper water efficiently as well, and a shakeyhead is perfect for dragging through structure that you’d normally snag with the drop shot.
If the potential structure is a bit deeper, toss a medium to deep-diving crankbait around rocks or pull a jig along if they aren’t as active. If you find bass suspended while targeting schools of bait be sure to try an Alabama Rig, spoon or hair jig for the best results.
As mentioned before, not much changes when fishing low water conditions except the fact that you have to do a little more recon and find other fish-holding spots if the old ones are exposed. Stick to the basics of fishing structure and you will have no problem locating fish again.