by Tim Huffman
Bluffs are often hit-or-miss fishing spots but have potential to be great producers. They can be fished by casting, slow trolling, jigging, or pulling.
A laydown on a bluff was the key for Richard Williams and his partner when they won the 2014 Crappie USA Classic. “We had a tip that we might want to try the spot. It was a bluff that fell into 104 feet of water but the important part was a tree that had fell off the top but hung at 40 feet. The branches came up to about 15 feet.
“The water was too clear to do anything but back off and cast. We moved to within 20 feet of the bluff. At daylight the fish were at 15 feet, but within a half hour they were down to 35 to 40 feet. We would cast to the rock wall, let our jigs hit the wall and drop straight down. We had to let the jigs sink to the depth of the fish.”
Dan Dannenmueller, tournament fisherman, fishes in many lakes and rivers across the country. Bluffs are not his go-to choice but he finds some of them to be very productive. He says finding where logs have hung up in the rocks is a high-potential spot.
“Another place to look for is where a portion of the bluff has slid down into the water creating an uneven bottom or ledges. Crappie will get on the down-current side and hold.
“I use electronics to find the underwater spots and usually spider rig. Fish will be behind rocks and cover to get out of the current. When there is no current this time of year, they will likely be suspended up in the water column over structures and ledges.”
“There are two major reasons for seeking a bluff,” says guide and tournament fisherman, Barry Morrow (660-723-2667). “The first is to get out of the wind. The second is to target fish holding on a bluff.
“I usually vertical jig cover with a standard long pole and plastic jig. The jigs are life-like targets that catch fish. However, there are times it’s good to give them something different. A spoon will definitely catch fish so don’t be afraid to try something different.
“My best tip would be fish it like you would a jig, with subtle movements, not radical. Jigs are good but spoons deserve more attention than they get.”
Whitehead’s Tips for Bluffs
Alabama fishing guide, Brad Whitehead (256-483-0834) says numerous lakes and rivers in the region have rocky bluffs. Two of his favorites are Wilson and Pickwick. Here are his top five tips.
Casting. “Casting is one of the best ways to fish a bluff. We usually catch black crappie along the rocks. I prefer a BnM 6-foot Sharpshooter, 6-pound-test line and a 1/16-ounce Crappie Magnet jig. I switch to a 1/8-ounce when there is more current or wind.”
Strike Zone. “Casting to a bluff and working a jig down to the cover only leaves the jig in the strike zone for a few seconds. I prefer to cast parallel to the bluff, let the jig fall to the strike zone and work it all the way back to the boat. The jig is in the strike zone a lot longer.”
Make It Look Natural. “Cast up current. The purpose is to present the jig in a more natural way, floating downstream to the fish. It can make a big difference in the number of strikes.”
Structure/Cover. “Everybody fishes cover they can see, but since most of the water off of a bluff is 30 to 60 feet deep, I prefer to use electronics to find trees and logs that are hung in the rocks down 20 to 40 feet deep. Good electronics will show if fish are on it.”
Adjusting to Wind. “Wind can be a problem when casting. I’ll switch to vertical jigging a ¼-ounce Deep Ledge Hook that hangs less and can be pulled loose when hung. The fish eat three- and four-inch long yellow-tails all the time, so the jighead size is no problem. The jig lets a fisherman get the bait down into the cover and feel what’s happening.”