Fishing the Transitional Edges

By Jerry Carlson - June 8, 2016
During the course of the year, I fish several dozen different lakes. For the most part, each lake has its own personality when it comes to structure, water clarity, weed growth and the size and quantity of fish.

Even though lakes differ greatly in their personality, there are some similarities that help me locate summer bass no matter what lake I am targeting. One surefire concept that will continually put fish in the boat is to look for and target transitional edges.

These transitional hotspots take on a whole host of appearances. Some are easy to see and some must be viewed through our electronics or probed with a jig. Let's start with the visuals.

When I first started to get interested in fishing for bass, I was totally a visual angler. Lily pads, bulrushes and cattails were all appealing to me.

I loved to skitter a Johnson Minnow across a bed of pads, pause at the edge, and then let it slide off and flutter towards the bottom. This tempting presentation was more than many bass could resist.

Poppers and spinnerbaits worked up and around the edges of the pads or close to bulrushes was also a deadly maneuver for bucket mouths. As long as I focused on areas where emergent vegetation transitioned to open water, I was successful.

Since those early days of bass angling, I have learned the importance of trying wacky worms as a shallow presentation. I have also learned that by rigging with FireLine, I am much more successful at pulling bass out of the weeds no matter what lure I am using.

Lately, I have become much more diversified in the process of targeting transitional edges. Although I still am very conscious of working bass around the visual edges, I find there are far more fish in the deeper transitional areas during the heat of the summer than there are up shallow.

Many times I have been successful by focusing on edges where shallow water drops quickly into deeper water. At times, this transition is quite visible and can be fished with both the use of electronics and the naked eye. Twitch baits, rattle baits and jigworms will all take fish on these fast dropping edges.

Some of the lakes I fish have sunken islands that come close to the surface. If there is good vegetation and the edges drop off quickly, these locations can be ideal.

If I really want to put to put up serious numbers of fish during the summer, I am definitely going to work the deeper weedlines. In my opinion, the deep weedline is the interstate of the underwater world. It is a travel route and ambush site that is used by most fish species throughout the summer.

To target deep weedline structure, I will make use of Texas rigged PowerBait worms, skirted jigs with trailers and jigworms. Looking for points, turns, sunken islands and cabbage weed are all important in my process of eliminating poor water and focusing on more highly productive locations.

No matter what the personality is of the bass water a person targets, transitional edges are key locations. By adjusting your presentation to fit the habitat and water depth, bass can be consistently caught on any body of water.

Author Jerry Carlson
Jerry Carlson
Jerry started his outdoor career in 1987 when he began writing for Outdoors Weekly. He currently writes about a 130 articles a year for various publications in the Midwest. In addition to writing and giving numerous hunting and fishing seminars, Jerry does weekly radio shows on two St. Cloud, Minnesota stations; WJON and WWJO. He also authored a book called Details for Locating and Catching Fish. Hunting and fishing photos and articles written by Jerry, along with his email address, can be found at jerrycarlsonoutdoors.com. Jerry fishes all species but prefers crappies in the winter and bass in the summer. He also loves to hunt Canada geese in the fall.