By Billy Darby
Impoundments created by damming rivers and creeks all have something in common beginning in about June. Fish head out to the ledges, and it’s this summer pattern that brings anglers offshore to the famous ledges on my home lake, Eufaula, as well as on reservoirs around the region.
Spawning is about over, and several game species, especially bass, are searching for food, cover and shade. The sharp ledges where the river and creek banks dropped straight down before the lake was formed are the perfect spot for hide and seek.
From the headwaters, where the ledges are the shallowest, down to the dams, where ledges are sometimes too deep to be practical, there is a sweet spot that affords the perfect temperature, oxygen and other environmental necessities to maintain life and comfort. The difference in water temperatures at certain depths, generating schedule, current flow speed, lake level and many other factors determine exactly where this sweet spot is on any different day or hour.
Those with the most experience on a given reservoir have a distinct advantage, but information pertaining to these criteria is available at most U.S. Army Corps headquarters office as well as from the Tennessee Valley Authority. Whoever controls the dams where you fish has the information you need. For Lake Eufaula, call (866) 772-9542 ext. 244. In most cases an app is available for your favorite lake.
Ledges are nothing short of structure, and knowing where to look is a very important factor. Critical features support feeding advantages such as the sharpest of the sharp drop-offs, small ditches that intersect with such sudden drops, a rise in adjacent landscape creating a ski-jump effect, points, curvatures, and the list goes on. Some of these features create an updraft where cooler water is forced upward, and likewise, just the opposite only yards away. In all the mentioned areas, shad and other prey are disrupted by the sudden surge in water flow.
Today’s electronics, with high-definition displays showing us where bait and bass congregate, are a huge advantage to finding the sweet spot on the ledges. But a little old-fashioned map work is also key to putting yourself where the fish are likely to be.
As always, know“ledge”—pun intended—is the key to success. Careful study of your lake master maps and identifying target returns can produce unbelievable results, not just in June, but all summer long.
Billy Darby is a retired professional guide on Lake Eufaula. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org