In gambling, it’s common to hear the phrase “scared money doesn’t make money.”
What this means is that if you’re afraid to lose, you’re probably not going to win. As unrelated as it may seem, that phrase is equally applicable when fishing cover for bass.
Bass will almost always hold near some piece of cover, and one of the critical mistakes anglers make is not actually contacting the cover with their baits due to fear of losing them or the bass.
Bumping cover is critical to success in bass fishing. Regardless of your presentation, you’ll get more bites and catch bigger fish if you’re contacting the cover at least periodically with your lure.
The reason for this is simple – bass are lazy. Imagine you’re a bass sitting in the middle of a laydown. You’re hanging out in the comfort of the shade and have an abundance of little panfish and crayfish to eat any time you get the urge. Would you be more inclined to chase down what appears to be a minnow struggling 5 feet away on the outside of the laydown, or a minnow that drops in your face suddenly as it pops over the log you’re hiding under?
Bumping cover not only brings your bait closer to the fish, it can also actually trigger strikes by producing erratic actions that trigger their feeding instinct even when they’re not hungry. A crankbait or spinnerbait worked through a laydown will have all kinds of erratic pulses, sounds, and motions as it works its way through the wood – all better triggers than the same bait reeled smoothly a couple feet to the side of the laydown.
Sure, bumping cover will definitely result in more hang-ups and lost lures over the course of a season, but it will also catch you a lot more and bigger bass. Next time you’re fishing shallow cover – try not to fish scared, and you’ll have a lot more luck.