Wherever he’s fishing during the summer months, Yamaha pro Dave Wolak always includes bridges on his list of places to make a few casts. The big concrete structures are present on most impoundments, and Wolak has caught plenty of warm-weather bass around them.
“Bridge pilings offer good vertical cover near a depth change or channel, which is always a good place to look for bass,” he explains. “In addition, bridge pilings provide a break in the current so baitfish are usually present, too, and on extremely hot, bright days, bridges offer cooler shade.
“There are a lot of reasons to fish bridges during the warm weather, and I know of numerous professional tournaments that have been won by fishing them.”
The question of which piling to fish isn’t hard to answer, continues the Yamaha pro. He begins by driving slowly around different pilings and looking for baitfish activity, but his basic rule is to fish the shallow pilings first if the water is dingy or off-colored, and the deeper pilings if the water is clear.
“I normally divide a bridge into sections, such as the front or upstream side, the middle, and the back, or downstream side,” adds Wolak. “I use a horizontal presentation, such as a swimbait, crankbait, or spinnerbait, along the middle, then often change to a vertical presentation around the front and back. A drop-shot can be surprisingly effective, especially around the back of the bridge.
“I like to put my boat slightly down current and cast upstream so the water flow washes the drop-shot right past the end of the piling and into the eddy behind it. Frequently, there’s actually a small hole washed out by the current directly behind the piling, and this is where bass like to gather.”
Wolak notes that the front of each bridge piling can also be a good place to use a small, soft plastic swimbait since brush washed downstream by the current may lodge against the piling and create another hiding place for bass. By rigging the lure weedless, he can work it through the limbs and sticks without getting snagged.
“On really bright days, bass frequently suspend around the middle of the pilings where they have shade,” continues the Yamaha angler, “and you may be able to tempt these fish into hitting a buzz bait or spinnerbait fished fast right beside the concrete. It’s a type of fishing you almost have to experience to believe, but I’ve seen times where dozens of bass gathered around a bridge like this.
“Sometimes you really have to make pinpoint casts to be certain your lure comes through the right spot at the correct depth, but once you know where the bass are, you can truly catch them.”
Wolak particularly likes to fish bridges near large bays, close to major grassbeds, and those not far from spawning flats. Bass will move from these areas to the bridges and may remain near them for weeks.