Bass Fishing: Identifying Productive Rock Piles

Obviously, not all rock piles are the same. Right now, I could go out to my local lake and fish all the “wrong” piles and catch just a few little ones. And then I could switch to fishing the “right” ones and catch several bass over three pounds. So what makes some rock piles draw bass, while others don’t? Actually, once you have seen and experienced excellent rock pile fishing, you’ll notice that good rock piles have some things in common.

Jim Moynagh

First, a sharp transition from deep to shallow abuts the pile at some point. Over and over again, I see this from North to South. For whatever reason, bass prefer structure having a sharp drop to it. Does it offer a predatory advantage? Do the bass lie just below the top lip waiting for bait to pass overhead? Or are these sharp edges travel routes the bass use to “navigate” about the lake? I don’t know. I just know quality bass can be consistently found at these places.

Second, I like a rock pile that is part of a much larger feeding flat. I view large flats as “fish pumps” for the rock pile. The bigger the flat, the more bass it can “pump” out to the rock pile. The key depths for the flats will vary from lake to lake and season to season. In fact, within the same lake, different rock piles will draw bass during different seasons. For instance, rock piles that draw numbers of post-spawn bass probably won’t draw much during mid-summer when the bass typically opt for deeper haunts.

Rock Scarcity Has An Impact
Third, the scarcity of rock in a lake can really have a major impact on a given rock pile’s ability to draw bass. In lakes with little rock except in a few isolated areas, a rock pile set up with a sharp break adjacent to a feeding flat can group together huge numbers of quality bass. In lakes consisting primarily of rock, this grouping tendency may not be as strong due to the vast selection of rock. At this point, a certain type of rock may have to be identified for putting together a pattern.

Fourth, windblown rock will often hold bass while similar rock on the lee side of the lake holds nothing. This is especially true when bass are in water 10 feet and less. Prevailing winds shift concentrations of plankton to the windy areas of the lake, thus drawing bait and predators. The longer the wind blows from one direction, the better the bass will group up on the windy rocks. Even after the wind has died, bass can still be found concentrated in these areas for a day or more.

Fifth, rock swept by current will often group bass. This situation is more common to reservoirs than natural lakes, due to water releases at the dam. However, in extremely large natural lakes, current can be generated by the wind pushing water to the windy side of the lake. In either case, the current may not be much, but it has a huge impact on the fish. The bass will draw tight to current-swept rock piles to take advantage of the current break formed by the pile. This makes for much easier feeding opportunities.

Better understanding precisely what you are looking for will make the next step, finding the rock piles, much easier.

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Jim Moynagh writes a twice-monthly bass fishing column on Visit Jim on Facebook at!/pages/Jim-Moynagh/167413610047622?fref=ts He is a FLW touring pro, and a former Forrest Wood Open Champion with multiple top 10 finishes. In 2012, he finished in fourth place for Angler of the Year honors. He also finished in fourth place two-straight times in FLW events in 2012. His expertise is deep-water structure fishing for large and smallmouth bass. Jim’s sponsors include M&M’s, All-Terrain Tackle, Chevy Trucks, and Ranger Boats.

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