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Cover, Structure…They’re Different

Posted: December 31st, 2014 by Bill Dance

I wouldn’t say it was a major pet peeve of mine, but I have noticed over the years how many anglers continue to interchange the words cover and structure.

And that’s wrong.

In the grand scheme of things, is this going to sink anybody’s bass boat? Probably not. But, to avoid confusion in the fishing world, there might be the need for a little clarification. And hey, my goal has long been to educate fishermen, so in this case, I gotta give the report card back and tell you, some of you weren’t listening.

Ah, I’m picking on y’all. But it is true that I have made this distinction known many times, and, heck, in the name of clarity over confusion (note teach fishing comment earlier) I’m more than willing to review.

Brush, timber and vegetation are cover. Structure is an old creek channel, a main-lake point, a hump, or a drop-off or rock pile.

Consider structure to be the floor of the lake extending from the shallows to deeper water. More precisely, it is unusual or irregular features on the lake bottom that are different from the surrounding bottom areas.

Structure comes in all shapes and sizes. It can be straight or crooked, contain dents and depressions or be flat. Structure can be located in shallow or deep water, along the shoreline or out in the middle of the lake.

Sure, certain kinds of structure and cover are more common to specific lakes. As for structure, for example, if you’re home lake is loaded with sheer drops and bluffs, well, quite naturally, you are going to be well-versed at catching fish on drops and bluffs.

The same can be said for dominant cover in a particular lake. If your lake is relatively “new” and there’s a lot of standing timber, well, you are going to know more than a thing or two about fishing the tall, standing stuff.

There’s a cost to this, though…being an expert at one thing. And that cost is you aren’t learning much. As I have challenged you to make the distinction between words like structure and cover, I also want to challenge you to move on to excel in fishing other types of structure and cover. Leave the comfort zone, and learn to fish old river channels. Neglect fishing shallow-water stumps for a day or two, so you can better learn how to fish grass beds.

Want to know my favorite structure? Want to know my favorite cover? The answer to both is this: it’s wherever the fish are. If you want to catch ‘em day in and day out, you have to be diverse in your efforts. This may be why I have a hint of a pet peeve when it comes to the difference between structure and cover. You have to know differences, to fish differences. And too, I really want you all to succeed in this sport we love.

Again, remember: structure is the shape of the bottom or irregular shapes/contours of the bottom (be it a creek bed, point, hump, etc.), while cover is what’s ON the bottom (logs, stumps, vegetation, standing timber, etc.). Structure is the cake. Cover is the icing.

Find both of them together and it’s a sweet deal that can lead to big bites! Wow, that makes me hungry…

As always, catch one for me!

Bill Dance


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