Fishing Unfamiliar Lakes

With only a few days to “learn the lake” and enjoy the best fishing there, an exploratory strategy is a must – i.e. identify the best structural features to fish, the depth at which fish are holding / feeding, and the best baits & techniques to employ.

If possible, get a hydrographic map of the lake from the outfitter or online. Focus on the most obvious structural elements - the shoreline (breakline & weedlines) and visible mid-lake features (islands & shoals). A portable sonar unit is essential to accomplish this quickly, and marker buoys (or GPS waypoints) eliminate the need to repeatedly chart a great spot. However crude the map, mark the best spots and update it regularly. Eliminate as much unproductive water as possible.

Trolling parallel to shorelines is always productive, as is jigging off points, shoals and islands in deeper water. When in search mode, move quickly, and return to productive and promising locations later using slower tactics - jigging, drifting, back-trolling or fishing with live bait.