Structure and Cover - Keys To Find Fish

Most Game Fish Species seek the same comforts you and I do. 

Game fish aren't that different than us in where they like to spend most of their time. They want to feel safe, comfortable, and near food. That's it. If you find areas with favorable conditions for food, comfort, and safety then ten times out of ten, you'll find areas with fish.

Find Fish Smallmouth Bass

The key to finding fish is to first find areas that provide structure and cover. Structure and cover are something you'll read a million times in your angling journey, and for good reason, it's the juice! The answer to "where to fish" is where there is structure or cover, or both. The "where" is often the most significant piece of the puzzle when it comes to catching fish, and understanding how your target species utilizes both structure and cover will help you tremendously when it comes to finding fish.


To keep it super simple, structure is an underwater feature that is a part of a body of water. Points, humps, channels, dams, rock piles, etc... If your yard were the lake, your house would be a piece of structure. For many species, structure alone can provide everything needed for fish to find food, comfort, and safety. For instance, an offshore hump is utilized by prolific baitfish species like shad, which attracts predatory species like bass. Offshore humps are often near deeper water, which can provide cooler temps and safety. Checking all the boxes for a prime spot; food, comfort, and safety. For more info on how to approach fishing structure, read our article about fishing different types of docks.



Cover is anything and everything that provides ambush opportunity for gamefish. Think of it as a place to hide or blend in to surroundings.Typical pieces of cover you'll often hear of are overhanging trees, lily pads, grass, and docks, to name a few, but the list of what could be considered cover could go on forever. I had a great bite for years off an old shopping cart someone threw in a city lake. That old shopping cart provided the city pond bass with the opportunity to ambush cruising bluegill (food). The shopping cart also provided both comfort and safety for shad and an area those city bass could tuck themselves back into when they weren't actively looking to ambush prey. Going back to the yard analogy for a second, if the lake was your yard and the house was the structure, your bushes, hammock, and trees would be cover.

Finding Fish 

Find Fish Action ShotUnderstanding structure and cover is a fundamental part of putting together patterns that will ultimately help you catch more and bigger fish. The next time you're out fishing, try to identify as many pieces of structure and cover as you can. From there, try to visualize the structure or cover you're looking at and imagine how your target species might utilize it to provide food, comfort, safety, or a combination of all three. Use that to plan your attack. Before taking your first cast, consider the angle you want to present your bait, the depth, and speed of retrieve and how it can all come together to be impossible to refuse for your target species.


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