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5 Crucial (and Unusual) Tactics You Must Do When Bass Fishing Road Beds

Bass Fishing Roads Beds| Fishing Submerged Road Beds For Bass

One thing is certain: not all roadbeds are made the same.

The key to bass fishing roadbeds are: (1) finding the right road that offer “bass magnet” features… which will have a greater likelihood to hold fish; (2) knowing when to fish roadbeds throughout the year; and (3) understanding what baits work best.

Occasionally, if you visit any large lake you’ll see a handful of roadbeds… and… choosing where to start can be certainly overwhelming… let alone knowing how to fish it! And to make matters worse, most of these submerged roadbeds you’ll encounter may have the occasional fish near them, but the majority will have no fish at all.

To be blunt with you there are only two ways to become successful with fishing roads. 

I used to do it the old way… that is to spend hundreds (if not thousands) of hours on the lake fishing and scanning every single road that I stumbled across.  But… for me (and more likely you as well) I didn’t have the time or the money to waste!

Does this ring true to you too? 

The new way I discovered to fish these is in a surgical systematic way that can instantly gave me the green light to start fishing and catching bass!

Now take a second to think about this… Can you imagine yourself having the confidence to pull up to any submerged road and instantly know whether it can be fished or not? Can you see how many more fish you can catch in one day just knowing that? Wouldn’t that be awesome?  

Listen, if you ever got suckered into trying your hand at fishing a submerged road, only realizing you’ve wasted precious hours of your day, or forced to come back to the boat dock with nothing but a sunburn – I know the feeling too! 

In our fishing blueprint, we’re going to help you avoid all that…

Are you ready to break down and dive into each one of these steps?

Perfect! Let’s get started…

Key Takeaways

Thankfully, bass fishing has become second nature to me now… but that wasn’t always the case.  As I spent thousands of hours watching and learning from my mentors, practicing hundreds of hours on the lake… only to fail horribly…

However, over years of honing my skill whenever I had the chance, I slowly started to create my personal roadbed fishing blueprint for beginners,  which is kinda-like my private set of strategies and tactics.  Now whenever I get to the lake and see old road, I use my same blueprint and I can quickly pick out the best locations that are most likely to hold fish… which allows me to avoid wasting hours of my fishing day… would you like to know more?  Great, here are just some of the things in this blueprint you’ll learn how to fish road beds for bass:

  • Understand what roads are more likely to hold fish… and… which to avoid as fast as humanly possible!
  • How your PC can get you extra bites when you’re on the water!…
  • How you can legally check to see if the road attracts bass… even if the road looks like the hundreds of others in your lake… you will get your answer in less than 1 minute… and helps you avoid spending countless hours on the wrong fishing spot!
  • The single best way fish a roadbed… this strategy will allow you to catch all the fish… never worry about spooking the rest… even if fish jumps off your hook!
  • Learn the best one-two punch for making bass bite when your fishing roadbeds – even Mike Tyson would be proud! 

But be warned! Go through this blueprint slowly and carefully so you don’t miss any tips that could cost you.

Fishing Submerged Roads Primer

Before we get started we have to cover the basics in why fishing a road is so important. 

Now you’re an angler who already knows this answer simply skip to the next section. 

I wrote this to help the beginners get started out on the right foot…

What is a roadbed?

A roadbed is a submerged road covered with water in a lake. It was once a road used for regular driving before being covered by water. 

When the dam was released, the road was submerged.

One of the biggest advantages of roadbeds is that they do not move. Once you find them, you can fish them year after year during specific seasons.

Fishing Humor: "Always be sure the road bed is under water. I tried fishing across I-30 once and the trucks kept smashing my lures."

Long Mike, response in Bassresource fishing forum

Why Fish Roadbeds for Bass?

One of the best places to fish bass is a roadbed, especially in the pre-spawn season in spring. The hottest days of summer when bass move to deep water are also great times to fish roadbeds in the main lake.

Roadbeds that have creek channels running up to them or swinging next to them are especially good for finding bass. Here, the water may drop from 10 feet to 15 feet, and bass often stay on a ledge or piles of large rocks in this area all summer long.

They have rocks for cover and many bait fish hiding on the roadbed. Bass have everything they need including a safe spot, prey to ambush, and if a creek channel is close, they have a “road” to travel to other locations in the lake.

Step 1: Finding Quality Roads at Home First

One of the best ways for anglers to find potential quality roadbeds is with Google Maps. This website can show you a birds eye view of all the roads on your lake.

Each lake is different, but if you zoom in on the road closely you can find old roads that were constructed when the lake was built. 

I’ve compiled a list of what I consider the 3 prime areas where you can potentially find an road rocky plus a bonus location… please note… there are more locations to learn, but I don’t want you to be overwhelmed. With that being said, if you’re going to be bass fishing roadbeds, these have a better than average chance of holding bass. And they’re going to be:

  • (A) Backs of coves
  • (B) Mid lake on the same body of water that hold the dam.
  • (C) Using a topographic map

Here’s how to find roads on Google Maps. 

  1. Simply, pull up Google Maps and start looking at your favorite areas on the lake. 
  2. Next, zoom in and inspect the bank looking for roads that go into the lake.
  3. Then find the prime area locations that we previously discussed. 
  4. As you find evidence of submerged road to fish, save the GPS coordinates and plug it into your fish finder for you to use later.
bass fishing rocky banks, fishing riprap

In this example,  Step 1 – Pull up Google Maps and start looking at your favorite areas on the lake. 

bass fishing rocky banks, fishing riprap

Step 2 – Zoom in and inspect the bank.  For this example we are looking for main lake banks that have roads leading into the lake…

Step 3 – Find the prime bank location and save the GPS location.

Below, I took some helpful screenshots to show you what each kind of roadbed looks like.

bass fishing road beds, bass fishing roadbeds, submerged roadbeds

(A) Backs of coves

If you’re just getting started this is one of the first places to look. 

Often as the lake is filling up construction companies will make roads crossing the old creeks. Normally you’ll find these roads towards the back of the creeks. 

Another time you’ll see submerged roads in the backs of the creeks is when the lake fills over the normal pool level… for example after a series of large storms.

bass fishing road beds, bass fishing roadbeds, submerged roadbeds
bass fishing road beds, bass fishing roadbeds, submerged roadbeds

(B) Main lake, on the same body of water that holds the dam.

Finding roads on banks of the main lake can also be a potential gold mine. 

First find the dam, then work your way away from it looking for old roads that lead into the lake.

bass fishing road beds, bass fishing roadbeds, submerged roadbeds
Navionics screen shot. Not to be used for navigation

(C) Navionics lake maps.

Finding roads on banks of the main lake can also be a potential gold mine. 

First find the dam, then work your way away from it looking for old roads that lead into the lake.

Step 2: Identify the Road With Your Fish Finder/ Sonar and Scan It

For example… say you’re doing your research and you find this road (below) on your lake…

bass fishing road beds, bass fishing roadbeds, submerged roadbeds

But, the roadbed is now submerged (below) and you want to investigate it…

bass fishing road beds, bass fishing roadbeds, submerged roadbeds

Now that you are on the water it’s time to confirm the quality of the road you are fishing.

Step 1)  I strongly suggest starting shallow and to find the road first, then follow it out to deeper water. 

Step 2) Starting with your side scan look for any large secondary structures such as a culvert or a bridge where the road crosses over. 

Step 3) Scan to detect a schools of shad or bass relating to the roadbed. 

Step 4) After you side scan the bank, find any secondary structure and scan it with your 2D sonar and downward structure scan to confirm if there is any bait or active bass in the area.

Helpful Tip: One thing Edwin Evers has taught me about fishing is that I have to constantly be looking for secondary structures he calls "irregularities".

The secondary structures don’t have to be big and don’t have to obviously stand out… so this means it can be small or subtle. 

Here’s a small list of top 3 things that I look out for when I fish a roadbed:

  • Riprap piles on the side of the road (big or small).
  • Drainage ditches and culverts.
  • Bridges, or where a bridge used to be.

Let’s see how this helpful process would be implemented on the lake…

Step 1) Start with your side scan

bass fishing road beds, bass fishing roadbeds, submerged roadbeds
bass fishing road beds, bass fishing roadbeds, submerged roadbeds

Then once you see something of interest, switch to your 2D sonar or structure scan

Helpful Tip: "You may see guardrails on the side and debris on the road. It can be a long or short road or part of an intersection where two roadbeds cross over."

Finding Active vs. Inactive Fish

When scanning any type of structure you want to see if there are any bass in the area, and more importantly, where the bass are in relation to the structure.

If the bass are on top of the structure it signifies the bass are actively feeding. These fish are extremely catchable.  Best of all, you can typically catch them using any assortment of lures.

Look at the images below.  This is a downward scan image I recreated to show you what bass look like when they’re relating to the apex of the point, they are the large arcs.  The smaller dots represent baitfish like shad. 

bass fishing fish finders

In this second picture below, locate the arcs which represent the bass. 

As you can see, the bass are suspending over deeper water and way off to the side… this means they are not actively feeding.

bass fishing fish finders

Additional Helpful Tips For Scanning Roadbeds

  • Yes, you can use your fish finder to scan a roads. The fish finder will show you areas where you can find bass near the road.
  • If the road has an extensive amount of rock on the edges, a side scan will not clearly show bass.
  • Another issue is that the bass may be hiding behind large riprap or boulders that may lay on the side of the road and will not be seen on side scan, or 2d sonar, or structure scan. The secret is to find the bait first. If the spot looks good and there is bait in the area it’s worth fishing.
  • Both 2D and down scans will show the roadbed and may help you determine the size of the bass in the area.
  • You will have to use these scans and look for spikes or hard bottoms with a thick red or yellow line confirming that they are rocks. Side scans may show the forms of rocks and fish on the bank.

Step 4: Fishing The Roadbed Systematically

You can become an expert at bass fishing roadbeds by following these easy steps I personally learned from offshore structure fishing expert and B.A.S.S. pro Todd Castledine. 

Step 1 – Find the right road to fish

Tactically choosing the right road to fish is important because you can be sure you’re in the right area. 

That’s why its so important to find the roads at home first, then quickly scan them for any secondary structures and then for bait or bass. 

What you’re left with is a spot on the road that has a pretty good possibility to holding bass. 

This prevents you from fishing some random part of the submerged road that probably doesn’t have any bass on it!

Are you getting this so far?…  Can you see how this process can help you out?

Step 2 – Proper Boat Position

If you’re just getting started, all you really need to know is one primary way to position your boat, kayak, or float tube to fish a road. 

  • Cast from deep water into shallow water

Casting from deep water into shallow water – When you cast your lure from deep to shallow water it allows you to perfectly position your boat at the best distance, giving you the greatest chances to keep your bait in the strike zone longer. 

Helpful Tip: Based on what the water conditions are and how the bass are behaving will tell you how deep you should be fishing. 

Step 3 – Stay Versatile and Keep Multiple Baits Handy

There are many places where bass may hide or position themselves on or around a road. So, it’s necessary to try different methods and approaches as you fish.

Part of your success must be your versatility…

You must always be ready to change you the baits based on what the locations is presenting you.

One of my biggest suggestions is to have have several rods rigged with various baits ready to use if fishing circumstances change. You may start out with a deep crankbait but the water depth suddenly jumps up and need to chose a more shallow running bait. 

Helpful Tip: Don’t give the bass too much time to think about it. This shallow water lure may get a response from bass who do not want to be bothered, and they are hooked into before they realize what happened.

When you get to a section of the road that you want to fish here is the processes that I recommend.

1)  Start with using a moving bait. Bass can live on or around roadbeds all year long, especially in the summer. For this reason, moving baits would easily draw the attention of the bass and lure them easily towards you.  Buzzbaitswalking baits, and other topwater lures can work well in the morning, especially if bass are chasing shad in the morning. 

Otherwise, crankbaits, soft plastic swimbaits, spinnerbaits, Chatterbaits, jerkbaits, swim jigs, hair jigs, and underspin jigs when the bass are aggressive or when their metabolism is high.

Flutter spoons work great in the deeper road sections.

2)  Slow it down to pick off the more reluctant bass. If you’re not getting any bites from the fast moving baits it will be time to slow it down.  

I really have the best success when I use a  tungsten football jig. Here’s why…

Tungsten is a denser material than lead which means you get a heavier weight in a smaller package.  Tungsten is nearly twice as hard than lead, and is about ½ the size of a lead jig,

The smaller sizes also means less drag… which also means it has a quicker fall rate for the same sized lead jig. 

Lastly, since it’s more compact there is less chance for hangups.  

My second or third choice for baits are going to be a Texas rig or Carolina rig with a compact soft plastic creature bait. 

I’ll let the depth determine if I use a Texas rig or a Carolina rig.

  • Deep areas in >12 feet of water, I’ll fish a Carolina rig.
  • Shallow areas <12 feet I’ll go with a Texas rig

And yes, I’ll thread on a tungsten bullet weight for my Texas and Carolina rigs the same reason that I outlined above. 

Drop shot rig, wacky rig Senko, and shakey heads are also great for bass fishing submerged road beds without getting hung up or snagged.

6)  And finally, be stealthy. During the process of checking the road to see if there are bass around it and casting your bait, try to be as quiet as possible. You might not necessarily have to be quiet, but let the noise be steady. Do not rev your engines and maintain a steady rpm.

Step 4 – Remember Your Presentation Once You Hook into a Bass

One of the secrets to bass fishing roadbeds is to unlock the pattern once you catch a couple of fish.

After you have a couple of bass in the boat, chances are you’ll catch more if you present your lure the same way.

You may be surprised on a certain presentation or bait that you caught the fish on… just stay open minded.  Don’t give up because the bass may be hesitant and somewhat suspicious if you have already caught a bass there. 

Step 5 – Fishing Roadbeds Requires Patience

Another common threat that experienced anglers agree on is that the best strategy for fishing roads is to be patient. It’s going to will require you to make a ton of casts and hopping from spot to spot until you find the pattern. 

My Personal Notes: My 2 Biggest Problems with Fishing Roadbeds for Bass

One of the biggest problems that I had with bass fishing roadbeds was I simply didn’t know how to find them. I can remember how I would look on Google Maps and get frustrated… especially if the lake was big.  . It was then I learned of Navionics web app. It quickly and easily helped me by narrowing down my search time before I got to the lake.  Can you see now why I added it into this blueprint?

Another problem I encountered was when my lake map showed a roadbed in a certain location, but when I searched for it with my boat, there was no roadbed to be found.

Helpful Tip: Using a map helps you reduce your search time before you get to the lake, that is why I put so much emphasis on locating roadbeds with your fish finder.

Sometimes the road will be really old and worn away… and that can make it hard to find. 

BUT… as you gain experience scanning and using your sonar you’ll rapidly be able to spot one. 

I can tell you once I started to figure out how to spot the roadbed on my sonar, I would get really excited to fish it… but I learned from my mentors that I couldn’t fish it all.  I had to fish the high percentage areas…

Over the years I created my list of areas that proved to be better than average on holding bass. 

As recap some of those spots are: riprap piles on the side of the road (big or small), drainage ditches and culverts, and finally bridges (or where a bridge used to be) when the road was being used.

Take care and tight lines!

— George

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