Matt Johnson Outdoors
Gimme a Break
Matt Johnson Outdoors
By: Tom "CrappieTom" Sawvell

Lots of chatter has been happening
lately about the fish being deep and
relating  to  things  we  call  breaks.
These   are  definitely   one  of  the
premier  pieces  of  structure  to  be
looking  at  this time  of year,  given
all the cold weather and cold fronts,
but just what breaks?

Breaks can best be described as where one type of bottom
ends and another begins. In some waters, like the lake I
typically fish, steep shorelines and the lack of flat land
surrounding the water create instances where the change
from shallow to deep water is but a few feet from shore. The
first primary drop in water depth might go from 4 feet to eight
in less than a yard of horizontal travel. These are very radical
breaks, but are absolute magnets for crappies. Underwater
rock ledges are breaks as are reefs and humps. The edges of
these structures are fish holders too. But that is just one lake.

Any change of water depth that happens quickly can be the
break you need to look for. A two foot drop can spell success
in many waters. Breaks may even come off as being quite
subtle too, so you have to be observant to see the changes in
some waters. A visible point of land jutting into the water will
likely present several break opportunities along it and are one
of the best kinds of breaks to locate, especially if the water
has depth and the shoreline is steep.

Someone will surely say here that they fish a bowl shaped
lake and there is no definite drop-off. How about weeds? The
outside edge of weeds, especially those that reach the
surface, creates a break in its own right. The more noticeable
or abrupt the weeds end, the better. It is still a matter of going
from one type of venue to another.

Why are breaks so hot? They offer the access to deep water.
They offer an ideal ambush location for feeding. And since
both deep and shallow water are both close at hand (in most
instances)the crappies find security and accessibility without
travel. All of these issues are indeed a part of the crappie
puzzle. I look for breaks and shoreline changes while still over
fairly deep water. What I pay particular attention to is the LCR
and the marks. Find fish relating to water depths almost
identical to the shallower water at the top of a break and you
had better fish them. Crappies will show this way and these
will be actively feeding fish. The deeper the fish appear off the
edge, the less agreeable they will be. The deeper fish are still
catchable, but you will be working to get them.

Breaks are one of the best early season pieces of structure to
fish for many reasons. Cold fronts, cold or slow to warm water
temps, rising water will all put fish into a panic and they will
head straight for the deepest water withing the immediate
area. BUT, they still have to eat. And it will be the breaks that
hold those fish. Knowing what to look for and how to know
what you are looking at becomes a challenge for some.
Hopefully this will help to understand some of the terminology
and just where to find these important pieces of structure.

At this time of year and we have the fish in pre-spawn mode,
little changes in the weather or water can create big changes
as far as how we need to go about staying with the fish. When
all of these things come at once, I just say "gimme a break"!
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