Outdoor Corner: 'What's the Point?'
“What’s the point” is usually associated with a “give me the outcome now” kind of statement. But for our time together, it will be one of the best places you can catch fish in the summertime, fall and winter whether you’ll be in salt or fresh water.
“We caught them all on points,” is a statement I’ve heard and said myself many times. You may not completely understand exactly what is meant when that phrase is said, so we’ll spend a little time learning just what a point is and how to fish them.
Now we’ll be talking about river and tidal systems, but some of it can be applied to reservoirs and lake systems that don’t really have a tidal flow. So just what is the point? A point on a river or tidal system is where a canal, bayou or another stream of water intersects with another body of water.
On a lake or impoundment where a river is dammed off, land is flooded. The “lay” of the land can create a point as well as the points that are already along the river before the dam is built.
It’s an intersection of some sort. What comes to your mind when you hear the word intersection around here? Traffic, of course. Well that’s pretty much how it is on the water. That traffic is what makes ‘em good! The roads are traveled by baitfish, and big fish eating the afore mentioned. But what makes them attractive to feeding fish?
It’s the food, of course. Baitfish, which include shad, bluegills and crawfish, all migrate in the warmer months, and usually the high water in the swamps has drained from springtime high levels, which forces the bait to the main waterways. So all the food is out there. Bass especially like to ambush their prey, and points offer these ambush points in several ways.
Usually there is a shallow flat that that extends from the bank. At some point there is a drop-off where the depth changes significantly. When bass are actively feeding, they prowl the shallows. That allows the bass to attack the baitfish with very little place to escape. This is when they are the easiest to catch.
Drop-offs occur at the edge of the shallow flat and drop off in relation to the main canal. It can be as little as 3 to 4 feet and much deeper, depending on the river depth. Here bass are very secure because of the hiding spots it offers that are usually darker and somewhat cooler. They can lay there undetected and surprise their meals as they swim by.
The fish are not necessarily in an active feeding but can be coaxed into striking a bait when presented right. Sometimes they just can’t help themselves when a food offering comes by and eat even when not hungry. Know anybody like that?
If you have any cover (grass bed, logs, under-water brush) either in the shallows but especially on the drop-off, this can be icing on the cake. It makes the fish even more secure and another hiding place from which to attack from.
Summertime is the best time to fish points but all the way through the winter can be good as well. This kind of fishing can be good anywhere you happen to be going and this is how I’d do it, even in a new place.
If you get a map of the area you can have an idea of how the area’s laid out. If not, just head out and stop at the first intersection you come to. Stop ahead of the point and fish the bank a few yards before the point. Repeat this scenario at each intersection you come to.
When you catch fish, remember where it was; upstream or downstream side, shallow or deep water and any cover that may be present. At the next stop, try to repeat the process. If you fish 15 or so points and have some success, remember the ones that produced and eliminate the others. Next time you go, hit the good ones and explore some new territory.
Crank baits are a good bait to use since you can cover a lot of water in a short period of time. Usually a mid-range bait (5’ to 8’) so you can dig into the bottom. If there are two of you, the other angler should use a plastic of some sort and fish the bottom. Top water action can also be productive as shad are schooling, so early morning fishing with a chug-bug or a prop bait can get the adrenaline flowing when a hungry bass explodes on it.
Points in salt-water areas can produce some red-hot action as well. The salt water finned creatures are unlike their freshwater cousins in that they are not structure oriented. They swim around, hunting for their prey and there is no finesse in the search for food.
There’s no hiding in wait to ambush, it’s just all about attack mode and out-swim the bait they are after. Lure selection can be varied as well. Top-water, rattle baits and even jerk baits work great. Popping corks used with endless styles and colors of plastics under them are probably the most popular.
Plastics on a jig head work well either in a slow retrieve like a swim bait and jigged off the bottom are my favorite way to utilize that type of lure. But my favorite, all-around lure is a red-eye shad by Strike King in the blue/chrome color combination.
What’s the point? Give them a try every time you’re fishing. So until next time, remember to keep the slack out and set the hook hard. Be safe in the outdoors and may God truly bless you!