Saddle Up For Big FishBy Craig Ritchie - July 31, 2019
The "western" part refers to their name. When it comes to producing big fish on a consistent basis, my favorite spots are the saddles.
What's a saddle? The name refers to the way these underwater ridges might look if you were to step over the side and look at them from a fish-eye view. Imagine an island situated off a rocky shoreline, surrounded by deeper water except for a shallow ridge that runs between it and the shore. That shallow ridge is a saddle, and it's a magnet for all sorts of game fish. Yet almost nobody fishes them.
I like to think of saddles as highways for fish. Fish which swim from the shoreline to the island, or between various islands, will usually follow the saddle, using it as a trail. By positioning yourself at some point along this underwater highway, you're in a great position to intercept these passing fish.
Tops In The WindSaddles are particularly great spots when the wind blows across them. Wind makes waves, and waves move stuff like algae. When the wind blows onto a saddle, small fish gobble the stuff up like mad, taking advantage of an easy feeding opportunity. Bigger fish get right in line and stuff themselves on smaller fish that get so caught up in feeding they lose caution. They might be on the down-wind side, hiding in the deeper water waiting to rush up and hit small fish that get blown too far from the cover. But more likely, they'll be on the windward side where they get first pick at the choicest morsels. That's when I'll cast big, noisy, attention-grabbing lures across the front face of the saddle all day, catching a variety of fish all eager for an easy feed.
The King Of Dead CalmAlthough saddles can be great places to score big in the wind, they're also spots to keep in mind on those dead flat, glassy calm days when it seems like every fish in the lake has developed lockjaw.
Rather than the aggressive approach with the spinnerbait, calm conditions are ideal for finesse offerings. One of the best is a simple inline spinner, like a number 2 or 3 Mepps Aglia with a silver blade. You'll want to keep the boat well away from the structure and make long casts, fishing the spinner as close to bottom as you dare. This is a great approach, as it gives you the finesse required to tempt inactive predators while still letting you cover a fair amount of water in a day.
Next time you find your favorite spots over-run with other anglers, take a look at your graph or a navigation chart, and give the saddles a try. You'll be glad you did.