Ledge fishing is a classic river system technique in the summer when many bass leave the bank for the wide-open spaces of the lake. Finding them was easy when the fish were close to shore, but now it becomes more of a challenge.
While the novice angler continues to pound the shoreline and catch small bass, savvy anglers target off-shore structure that produces for them throughout the summer. Once hot weather arrives, you can locate bass along ledges, a structure with many of the same features (lay-downs, stump rows, brush and rock piles) you find along the bank.
Ledge Fishing Is Structure Fishing
Similar to steps in a swimming pool, ledges serve as stairways for bass. A ledge is just a shallow area with immediate deep water access that provides a congregation point and/or a feeding area. The structure itself can be anything–a point, river channel swing, bluff bank or a flat–that has immediate juncture to deep water.
Productive ledges can either have slight or significant drop-offs. The drop in depth is a variable thing and can be as much as a very drastic drop (15 to 20 feet) to as little as a 2-foot drop.
Ledge Fishing Techniques
Two productive techniques for probing the drops are cranking a deep-diving crankbait and stroking a jig.
During early summer, try a deep-diving crankbait for aggressive postspawn bass bunched up on the ledges. You should crank with 8-pound test line, which allows you to make longer casts. The lighter line also gives the lure more natural action and allows it to dive deeper.
When retrieving the crankbait make sure it bangs into cover or use a stop-and-go retrieve to create an erratic action in the bait.
Ledge Fishing: Strokin’ The Jig
As the sun gets higher and the fish become less aggressive, you should switch to the jig stroking technique. The stroking aspect of ledge fishing is getting a reaction strike from relatively deep-water fish (in the 10- to 20-foot range). This technique involves jerking a 1/2- or 3/4-ounce jig and plastic trailer along the top of the ledge all the way to the drop.
Initiate the stroking technique by casting your jig to the ledge and letting it fall to the bottom on a semi-taut line. Be sure to watch your line the whole time because strikes frequently occur on the initial fall. When the jig hits the bottom, jerk your rod from about the 10 o’clock position to about 1 o’clock to make the jig hop along the ledge.
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