What is structure and why is it important when fishing?
An angler can significantly improve the potential for a successful during an outing is with their ability to recognize the presence of structure and how to use it to their advantage. This knowledge along with several other scouting skill sets can give both the novice and experienced angler that competitive edge.
Structure can be defined as anything having an unusual characteristic found either under water or protruding vertically. Many structures are created by nature or placed there to either support another structure or another purpose. Regardless of the types of structures, they can also be found at various locations and water depths. Either way, structure is beneficial for both anglers and many saltwater species.
Vertical structure could be pilings, bulkheads, tree stumps or jetties that extend above the surface. Horizontal structures are submerged and may include depressions, holes, drop-offs, ledges, rocks or sunken logs. The most common horizontal structure are small holes or depressions and the change where sand bottom meets a grass flat.
Structure provides safety and food source for many species. The fish’s ability to move around this formation provides their ability to avoid another predator. Also, many small bait fish and crustaceans remain close to structure adding to the larger species food source.
When fishing a vertical structure, the angler should focus on the leeward side. Fish typically remain in the calm leeward side waiting for a bait fish or other species pass by. When fishing a horizontal structure such as a depression or grass flat, let your bait pass as close as possible, changing speeds and action of the retrieve.
When fishing structures, anglers should mimic the action of a bait fish or crustacean. It must be a natural retrieve. Bait or lure presentation here is extremely important as not to spook or chase the fish out of that zone. The bait or lure should be retrieved slowly both in the current and static areas. Then repeat.
Proficient anglers have the ability to use various retrieval or twitching actions that cause either anger, fear or even a keen interest that increase the bite. But it is imperative that the action must be natural and lifelike.
Some structure is easily located but others are not. Vertical structures are obvious. But horizontal must be discovered. One way to locate a bottom structures is to take either a bank sinker or a lead jig head with the hook removed attached to a break-away light test leader and cast out in various locations. Feel and resistance during the retrieve can reveal uneven and structure components.
Ability to recognize and use structure is the easiest way for an anglers to improve their catch rate.
And although it’s an important part of finding fish, its only one tool in the angler’s catch box. The ability to recognize structure and use it to catch fish can be a game changer.
Until Next Time – Tightlines – Capt. Tony