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Beating the Rip Rap

Probably the least understood structure for anglers to fish has got to be rip rap. Everyone knows these rocky areas hold fish year round. But only a few anglers recognize that when you are surrounding with a few miles of similar looking rock strewn shoreline, you need to find "concentration points" to catch fish.

I will grant you that any angler can probably go to any given point on a rip rapped shoreline and catch fish. But I would wager that if they did a little hunting, they could identify areas with higher probabilities and catch more and bigger fish.

Fish gravitate towards rip rap for a variety of reasons, mainly 

1:Rip rap warms faster in cooler weather, drawing baitfish and other gamefish into the area.

2:Rip rap contains an uncountable number of crevices where crayfish and other forage can take up residence and hide, thus providing a virtual buffet line for fish

3:Rip rap shorelines provide an edge effect where they stop and the water bodies bottom begins.

That last point is something I want to focus on. Many of us take it for granted when looking at all that rock that the rip rap ends in a uniform fashion somewhere beneath the surface. Logic and common sense tell us it isn't so. While rip rap areas are concentration points for fish, areas of irregularity situated closer to deeper water or drop offs are going to draw even more fish. Examples of this are areas where the rock has literally slid off the bank . Steeper shorelines are often a good indication of this area. When the rocks slide, they form a bulge along the edge of the rip rap. High concentration point. Not all that hard to find if you stay alert to the visible signs.

Other areas that this might technically include are wing dams. Wing dams are used to deflect the rivers current back into the main channel and prevent further soil erosion. They are almost always beneath the surface but remain linked to the shoreline by the same size rock. (Note:wing dams are a fish catching structure all in themselves and we'll be covering them in an up-coming article.)

Higher percentage spots are areas where channels run closer to the rip rap bank than elsewhere along the bank. Points, cuts, and man made areas like boat docks and marinas. are good too, just because the area is inundated with a large number of edge concentration points..

Fishing rip rap can be done in a variety of ways, but a shoreline angler needs to cover water quickly so artificials are called for. Darker colored natural patterns are great choices here, especially crankbaits. You can cover water very quickly and still get a very good idea of bottom structure and layout as well as discover any depth changes or key areas like the ones I have mentioned. Crayfish, shad and minnow patterns are tops for these conditions

Once you have located a high percentage spot, if you choose you can work the area over more thoroughly with a combination of livebaits or slower presentations like jigs.

One of my favorite lures to fish rip rap with is a silver or bronze spoon, usually about 2-3 inches long. As the weather warms the water gradually during the summer, I usually increase the wobble by using different bodied spoons. The wider wobble seems to call more fish in warmer water. The same holds true for cranks. Other lures to mention are Cicadas or Heddon sonars-blade baits. in-line spinners like Mepps Aglias or Comets.

With these tips you are sure to find some fish along the rip rap if you pay attention to the smaller details the shoreline can visually show you. Until next time

keep those lines wet

Daniel C. Nielsen


Copyright 2000 
Reprinted with permission

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