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Increase Your Productivity Fishing New Water

How do you find fish on a new lake? In Bass fishing, this is a question I get asked a lot. There’s no perfect answer. Every lake is different. Weather conditions, time of year, and type of lake will all play into your approach.

As you’ll quickly find out, in this video, this is not a new lake to me. However, I haven’t fished it in several months. The last time I was here, water levels, temperatures, and grass lines were completely different.

How to Find Fish on a NEW LAKE | Bass Fishing

00:00 What’s up? Let’s get right into it. One of the most difficult things in the sport of fishing for largemouth bass is finding fish on a lake you’ve never been to before. This lake here, I’ve been… There’s not many lakes in the area that I live that I haven’t been to. I’ve been to this lake many times. I haven’t been here in a couple of months. The water was… It was a different time of the year when I was here last, the water was lower. We didn’t have as much grass and it was a whole different fishing season than right now. So it might as well be just a brand new lake that I haven’t been to. I’m out here with my buddy Jason today and we’re gonna show you guys what it’s like when you basically are going to a lake for the first time, how to find some fish here.

00:44 I don’t even know what we’re gonna be thrown today. I have no idea what pattern these fish are on. I just looked down at my Humminbird down here and marked us. We’re sitting on for grass line. I marked a huge school of fish suspended out here in 10 feet of water off the grass line. I don’t know what we’re gonna catch them on. I’ve got about 10 rods rigged up here with all different stuff, and I’ll probably be re-rigging them with other stuff, but see if we can clarify for some people, one of the most confusing things in bass fishing, which is how to find fish on a new lake. So, stay tuned and we’ll see how it goes.

01:17 Got him?

01:17 There’s one. So it’s been a little bit of a struggle finding fish on this lake. The last time I was here, oh, and I might still not have one, but the last time I was here, and you look out here, it’s a bunch of really good-looking Kissimmee grass. And it was all open water back in here. And two, three months ago, when I was here last, now it’s solid matted up Hydrilla and we’ve been going down this grass line for what? About 45 minutes?

01:51 : Yeah.

01:53 And there’s fish blowing up in this grass. And we’re trying to use search baits, swim jigs, I’d like to be throwing a Rat-L-Trap or something like that, but these fish are holding too tight to this grass. So I went to the fluke, my good old standby, looking at my electronics. That’s real important too, when you’re finding fish on a new lake. I’ll talk more about that later, but this is literally, we’ve been out here for almost two hours. This is the first fish we put in the boat. It’s a decent one, but we’ve seen some good fish blow up on this grass line. I’ve thrown in a couple of top water walking baits, a new kind of hybrid frog-looking bait from 13. I did get one little bite on that. I’ve seen a bunch of fish blowing up on little bait fish and they wouldn’t even touch a fluke, and that’s the first one, but I had to let it sink down. Thrown a Texas Rig once, so they’re being challenging.

02:47So when you’re on a lake that you don’t know anything about, again, I do know a lot about this lake, but I don’t know anything about it right now. Obviously, ’cause this is our first fish and it’s a solid two and a half pound or two and three quarters, but you have to use a lure or lures that are good for searching out fish, something that you can cover a lot of water with. A fluke, kinda in between, you can fish them fast. I caught that one just letting it sink down, kinda dead sticking it, and we caught our first one. But electronics nowadays, you can go to YouTube videos, if you’re watching this, to find information about certain lakes. This isn’t a video about a certain lake, but there are a lot of those videos out there, like if you were traveling to Alabama, or if you’re traveling to Upstate New York, I had a tournament there last year, Lake Champlain. The first thing I did was I went to YouTube and looked at every YouTube video I could on catching smallmouth bass at that certain time of year. So that’s one way you can do your research. I looked into lures, I looked at my maps, I still carry paper maps or printed maps, and all of your GPS units with the map chips in them, whether it’d be Lakemaster or Navionics, that’s a good way to search out lakes.

04:07 But eventually, you have to actually put the boat on the water and no longer look at stuff and read and watch video. And you have to see what the fish wanna do. And that’s what we’re doing right now. My electronics right now aren’t playing a real big part in what we’re doing because it’s 5 feet deep and we’re fishing a grass line. I could side image this. I know there’s not a whole lot out here and the fish are showing us where they’re at, we just have to figure out how to catch them. I still don’t think a fluke is the best thing to throw at ’em because I’ve thrown out what, about a half dozen fish that have blown up, and they don’t care anything about it. He’s throwing some swim baits, like I said, the Texas Rig worm. I threw an underspin, a couple top water walking baits, and we’ve caught one, but we’re gonna go back down this grass line ’til we figure them out, because the fish have been pretty good-sized fish. We saw one back there that threw a bunch of water up. But here we are two hours later. She’s still trying to find fish on this new lake.

05:11 Oh there you go. See, they’re all chunks. What was that, on swimbait? Look at that, that’s not bad fish.

05:20 He could be fatter. Where did you catch him on? Just swimbait? Were you just grilling it or?

05:26 Yeah, [05:27] __ Good weight. He looks like about two and a half?

05:32 Yeah, he could be in that almost four-pound range if he had any belly to him.

05:37 Look at that gap in his hole, right here.

05:40 Oh, yeah.

05:42 So that was our second fish still on the same grass line, but it’s like 45 minutes later. His first fish, our second fish. We’re trying to treat today like we’re in a tournament, like he’s the co-angler. That’s why he’s weighing his fish. He’s the co-angler and I’m the boater or the pro, and we’re learning a lake that we’ve never been on, like a pre-fishing day or a practice day. And I feel like there’s a ton of fish down this grass line and we’re not doing a very good job of figuring them out. I also think it’s a combination of the fish just aren’t biting that well. I’ve slowed down and thrown a big Texas Rig worm, it’s partly cloudy, 81-degree water. The fish should be biting a lot better. It’s that weird time of year though, right at the beginning of October, and they’re not super aggressive. I’m throwing a really slow moving top water plug right now ’cause we’ve seen probably a dozen or more fish. All good-sized fish, not giants, but good-sized chunks come up, and blow bait fish out of the water.

06:52 But they’re doing it one time, they’re not chasing anything around, and we’ve caught them on, now, two different baits. So we haven’t really figured anything out. But they’ve been decent fish. This lake’s known though for producing good-sized fish. It’s not a lake you’re gonna come catch a bunch of little tiny ones, they’re always usually decent fish. We still haven’t figured anything out. So, keep plugging along here.

07:15 Yeah. I got a bite.

07:18 You got’em?

07:20I had to let it sink all the way to the bottom.

07:23 Oh that swimbait?

07:23 And let it drop and I just dropped them down [07:25] _ the bottom, that one did. [07:27] _ I saw a pattern going with these fish.

07:28 So, we were just sitting here talking about how bad the fishing is today, for no reason at all. That was our third fish in the boat. Unfortunately, it was only like 10-inches long, on a swimbait. As you can see, because the camera’s going back-and-forth like this, we’re in about a… Oh, probably better than a 15-mile-an-hour wind, and we’re out on a wide open, windy bank here. We’re using search bait. I’m throwing a lipless crankbait and on an outside grass line. Can’t really get up in there ’cause it’s chockfull of Hydrilla. He’s throwing a swimbait, and we’re just blowing down this bait. We’re searching for bass, using moving search baits. And one of the problems when you’re on a new lake that you don’t know a lot about or if you’re on a lake that you haven’t been to in a while, might as well be a new lake, like we’re doing today, is what do you do when you’re searching for fish, and they won’t eat search baits? That’s the problem we’re kind of running into now.

08:26 You have to… What’s going on? Are we not using the right baits, is the biggest question, or are the fish simply not biting? ‘Cause sometimes they don’t bite. The old adage that if you’re around the fish and you’re using the right lure that you’re gonna catch them, is not true. Sometimes fish don’t eat. And that might be because of the time of the year and what’s kind of been going on in the general area around here. They haven’t been biting that great this week, on any of the lakes around here. So we don’t know if that’s what’s happening, because with a three-fish sample, you haven’t learned anything yet. We do know the three… All three fish we’ve caught have been on outside grass line. We have gone up inside there, but this lake that we’re on here, of this chain of lakes… The particular lake we’re on right now doesn’t have a lot of stuff out.

09:17 It’s a sand bottom out here. I don’t know… And I’m sure there’s some shell beds out here. I don’t know where they’re at. I don’t fish out here enough to have found them yet. The lake… One of the lakes connected to this has a bunch of offshore Hydrilla and the water’s a lot clearer, so if we don’t put anything together in here in this more stained water soon, we’re gonna venture in there and see if we can find some better fish, or find more fish with search baits. But we’re just still plugging along. We’ve been out here almost four hours. We’ve been out here about three-and-a-half hours.

09:48 There you go. You’re kind of burning that on the surface, weren’t you?

09:54 That one was. The other ones were on the bottom. I was like, “I’m going to try something a little bit different.”

10:00 So we still… We’re on fish number four, and we still haven’t learned anything. Oh, he’s bigger than I thought he was. Look at that. That’s our biggest fish yet, and it ate it up on the surface.

10:14 Yeah.

10:16 S1: So fish number four, a good three-pounder. Healthy three-pounder. He’s caught now three on his little swimbait, and that one hit it while I was reeling it over the surface. It just kind of rode up. Got four fish total on two different grass lines, and for a lot of people, that would be a… They would be satisfied, but if we were practicing for a tournament, you need something way better than this. And we still haven’t really learned anything, ’cause we’re beat… Oh, there’s one. I got one on a lipless. So windy banks, apparently, are maybe a deal. So now we’ve caught five fish, and… Stop it. We’ve caught five fish. But what we are doing is… We’ve been going down this windy bank and now we’re back in a sort of… I guess you’d call, a windy cove. Right?

11:20 Yeah, yeah.

11:21 Chunks. Two-and-a-half pounder. How much is that one?

11:24 Three-ten.

11:24 Three-ten. So we’re catching chunks, and I guess we’re finding a pattern. It’s kind of what you’d think if you saw this lake. Last time I was here, there was not very much Hydrilla, and you could catch fish all the way to the bank, actual bank. The Hydrilla is so thick, it’s pushed a lot of these fish out. Water is cooler. Fish are on the outside grass lines. So that’s what we’ve learned. And like I said, if I didn’t know anything about this lake, I probably would have come out here, and for at least an hour, studied my maps. Which I probably won’t get into that, that much in this video, but if you’re on a lake you’ve never been to, make sure you have good fish-finding units. Humminbirds. That’s what I use. Side-imaging, always come… Down-imaging, now all that stuff comes into play. I’m not gonna spend time doing that, ’cause I know what the bottom looks like here. But we’re figuring some stuff out. Except for that one fish, they’ve all been chunks. Right. Online.

12:27 Feeder.

12:28 Got him?

12:29 Yeah, there it is. Darn.

12:33 Well, let me see that bait real quick. So that was kind of fish number six. He’s catching them all on a little swimbait. I’ve had one on a fluke, one on a lipless, and you’ve had four now on this little swimbait. We got some storms moving in and it’s getting windier. It might be a little front coming through, but we’ve only fished… We’ve fished three banks now. Nothing on the first place, and a couple on that one spot, and then four here. So if this was a little tournament that we had getting… That we were preparing for, we haven’t figured out a lot, but we found two lengthy grass lines that I would probably end up either trying to recreate, expand on, or whatever, to catch a 20-pound bag. But our best five today, because we’ve had some chunks, are probably up close to that. High 13s, into the 14-pound range with our best spot.

13:32 Yeah.

13:32 Because we don’t have five over three. We have a couple over three, and the rest of them are under. But it’s getting windy. Oh, I missed that one. That was a weird bite, that was was like a flutter.

Jason George
Jason Georgehttps://guidefishing.com
Jason George, with a remarkable career spanning over 30 years, stands as a paragon in the world of fishing journalism. Jason fishes the Bassmaster Opens as a Co Angler and is an Active Member of Outdoor Writers Association of America. Jason is edicated to sharing the joys, techniques, and news of the fishing world with all of you.

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