Anytime of the year can be a good time for fishing rip rap. These chunky rock areas can heat up quicker in cooler months, and provide some cool ambush areas during the warmer times. They are normally near deeper “sanctuary” water areas, which give fish quick in and out feeding access.
Anglers have a tendency to fish these areas too quickly. It is important to work “the rap” slowly, and with different techniques and lures. This is especially true if the day’s pattern is uncertain, or changing because of water or weather conditions.
Most lures will work for these areas, but generally my selection contains crankbaits, jig combinations, plastic worms (Natural Forage Baits Mad Craw and Ribbon Tail), tubes and grubs. The three favorites of these are Norman diving or Rat-L-Trap crankbaits, Mad Craw worms and 7” Ribbon Tail worms.
To help illustrate how rip rap may be fished, here is a general look at my approach.
First, try paralleling the shore with crankbaits. This is done by positioning the boat so that the shallower water is worked first, and then going on out to deeper water. Try different depths of crankbaits so that the bottom hugging fish can be reached at whatever level, while not forgetting those that could be suspended. For the suspended fish, or when fish are seen feeding on schools of baitfish, try a Rat-L-Trap, which is an excellent “search bait” to find fish quickly.
Once the fish are located, it is time to go to the slower presentations for soft plastics and jigs. Fish the slower lures from shallow to deep, and parallel, being sure to work any possible bottom structure a little longer. Pumping, bottom bumping retrieves, and crawling the bottom, by dragging the line a foot or two between slight pauses, work very well.
It is important to work any brush, stumps, humps, or other unusual feature to the rip rap shore, a little longer than other areas. This includes at the ends of the rip rap where the type of shore changes -- all of these are generally the areas where fish hold best. The sides and front of a spillway on a rip rap covered dam is another potential fish holder. There are some spillway areas that are set out from the shore, and in this case fish will sometimes hold between the overflow feature, and shore.
Rip rap holds all types of prey, but the two main types are bait fish and crayfish. The later is the most popular, and because of this the lures used to simulate these baits are normally the best producers.
Here are some of my favorite colors for the different lures: diving crankbaits – firetiger, bone/orange and crawdad; lipless crankbaits – Sexy West, Diamond Shad and Apricot; jig combinations - black/blue and pumpkinseed; and all soft plastics - black, black neon, June Bug, pumpkin pepper, green pumpkin, crawdad and watermelon pepper. There are occasions when a Casey’s Road Runner Head with Natural Forage Baits Swim Bait, white/chartreuse Stanley spinnerbait or white Blitz Spyder jig with a Power Minnow or Natural Forage Baits Lil Killer trailer, will be used for swimming above the rocky area. This is usually when the bass are hitting baitfish.
If the wind is blowing into the rip rap, this is generally a very good time to fish from shallow to deep, as the wind is stirring up food to wash down to the waiting fish. If the wind is blowing parallel to the shore, position the boat facing the wind, and make casts at an angle, fishing the area as if it were water current with the fish having their noses pointed into the current, or, in this case, the wind current.
Other things to observe are if any pieces of crayfish are being washed up to the edge, or there is feeding action where baitfish are being chased. Birds feeding along shore will many times be the giveaway as to if there are pieces of crayfish, as well as if there are dead baitfish.
Whenever fishing a lake that has a rip rap shore, especially near deep water, as earlier mentioned, don’t pass it up. Be sure to “work the rap.”
Until next time, get out on the water, and enjoy a great day of fishing.