ever we hear the word "Vertical," we automatically think of the
various Extreme Sports out there. Skateboarding, rock climbing,
freesyle biking, and surfing all use the term "vertical," but we can
now add the sport of bass fishing to this list of Extreme Sports.
After all (and I am sure that most of you reading will agree), what
could be more extreme than setting a hook into the mouth of a
seasoned bucketmouth? How about the extreme fight that a smallmouth
can give us? Hey, bass fishing ranks up there with the best of them!
Now, how can "vertical" fit into the bass world?
The type of vertical referred to in bass fishing
is that of vertical structure fishing. In definition form, vertical
structure is a piece of either man-made or natural material that is
set with the bulk of its body rising perpendicular to the bottom of
the body of water. A lot of the time, these vertical structure forms
are completely submerged under the water, but more often than not
you can find them exposed above the surface of the water. The visual
structure is where I would like to further this article, and help
you to understand how to locate the structure, how to fish the
structure, and what tools will be needed to land bass off of the
Some examples of the different kinds of
visual vertical structure would be bridge pilings, marina walls,
standing timber, docks, wells, and concrete walls that often
surround dams, industrial areas, and marinas. I have even had the
opportunity in recent months to fish a new type of vertical
structure (to me) on Maryland's Potomac River during the Citgo
Bassmasters - sunken barges. Each of these different types of
vertical structure attract bass in large numbers, and they should
never be overlooked as great resources for locating bass of all
sizes and weights.
Bridge pilings have become one of my
favorite types of vertical structure to fish. The main reason
revolves around the fact that bridges tend to cross narrow areas of
water that will usually hold a current. The bass will generally rest
along the base of the piling looking straight into the current. And
we all know that a fish who is focusing his attention into the
current is a fish who is stalking his lunch! Just a simple cast
along the structure will take care of business, and a steady
retrieve while jerking the rod tip upwards ever so often will keep
the presentation alive. You will find, though, that the fish will
grab the bait on the drop.
There are many different types of lures
that are used in fishing vertical structure, and my personal
favorites are blade baits, spoons, and plastic worms. Each lure
generates a different type of presentation that should be carefully
considered during each fishing trip you take. Make sure to do what
ever you can to ensure that the correct size and color are being
used. This would include using the traditional color concepts of
chartreuse and white in stained water, more metallic color patterns
in clear water, etc.
baits, sometimes referred to as "Zip" lures, can be an excellent
source for jigging in a vertical structure environment. A blade bait
is nothing more than a piece of either silver or gold metal (in the
crude shape of a baitfish) with a tin or lead ball soldered to the
nose. These fishing tools create a vigorous wobble that is created
when the lure is given a quick jerk up and down along the vertical
structure. The trick is to get as close to the structure as possible
(without scaring away the bass) and send a steady cast directly down
the piece of vertical structure. Let the blade drop down to the
desired depth and make steady jigging motions up and down along the
vertical side of the structure. If you are doing this correctly -
you will be resembling the movements of a panic ridden baitfish.
Make sure that you are trying to replicate the color pattern of the
species of bait fish located in the area. They can be purchased in
everything from crawfish patterns to varied perch and shad color
schemes. A company by the name of Bitzer Creek produces these lures
in a variety of colors and patterns sure to match the needs of the
avid angler on any day of the week. You can learn more about these
lures by visiting their web site at
The spoon can work in a similar manner as
the blade bait. The difference in using a spoon instead of the blade
bait is that the spoon will not have as much of a vibration as it
descends to the bottom of the lake or river. What the spoon can add,
though, is a more flashy appearance (that is what spoons are known
for, anyways), and it will look like a dying shad making its final
drop to the bottom. The spoons are made by a large variety of
manufacturers, and come in a large assortment of colors and shapes.
Lucky Strike Bait Works, in Ontario, Canada, is one of the more well
known producers of fishing spoons. Their web site,
www.luckystrikebaitworks.com<, can show their collection of
spoons to the Internet tackle buyer.
Finally, the good 'ol plastic worm can be a
productive tool to flip and pitch along vertical structure. The
options are endless with what types of rig or worm style you would
like to use. My personal preference is to throw either a 5" or 7"
Mojo Fire Moccasin rigged on either a Texas or Carolina rig. Other
professional anglers have been known to rig a worm "wacky" style
(spearing the hook directly into the middle of the worm) while
vertically fishing structure. The trick is to do a distant cast,
hitting the structure head on. You then allow the worm to slowly
fall down into the depths of the water - almost sliding directly
along the piece of structure. Jigging up and down can be a proven
method, but most worms are hit by the bass on the drop, so by
casting over and over again you can maximize your fishing
productivity without having to get too close to your target.
A drop-shot method can be utilized in an
effective way, as well for the worms. Mojo makes an ingenious
drop-shot weight kit that can make this method of fishing quick,
productive, and easy to retrieve from underwater weight snags.
As you can see, there are so many ways to
utilize vertical structure, as well as many different types of lures
and presentations. By trying all of the different methods, you can
find what will work best for you and the body(s) of water you fish
the most. The most important thing to remember, though, is not to
overlook vertical structure, and the many bass that can be held
along side of it. After all, you are an Extreme Angler, aren't you!
Curt S. Strutz