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Structure vs. Cover

April 22, 2011

Wanna start a fight?  Mosey into the fishing shop and start discussing the difference between fishing structure and fishing cover!!

If anglers chose to use the same terminology across the board, there would be no need for these discussions nor (for that fact) no need for this blog entry!  But for the fact that this discussion does take place and for the fact that I will be discussion various fishing tactics and techniques, it is only fitting that I put up a clarification of what I mean when I’m discussing fishing structure and fishing cover.


Structure – a change of any sort in the “natural” surface of the bottom of the water body regardless of the depth of the water column.  This change can be in various forms:  depth and geological formation.

Cover – these are naturally occurring and man-made which include: vegetation (grass, weedbeds, etc.), brush piles, stumps, rock piles, wood piles, foundations of buildings, rip-rap, concrete pilings, sunken cars or heavy equipment (hey, they are out there!), sunken roads, sunken railroad track, etc.

Fish, whether they are freshwater or saltwater species, generally will gravitate to structure of some sort.  For example:

  • Crappie – fish structure such as brush piles, concrete pilings as this species is generally not found out in ‘open’ water (no structure or cover).
  • Amber Jack – fish structure such as oil rigs or sunken boats; again, this species is not easily caught out in ‘open’ waters.
To further elaborate, let’s say you and I are discussing a recent fishing trip of mine and I say, “I caught that bass off the rip-rap on the east side of the dam near the emerging weedbed.”  Just from that statement, you will know what structure I was fishing (rip-rap) and the cover that was nearby (emerging weedbed).   If I stated that later in the day I caught a bass off the hump, then you’d know only the structure that I was fishing.
However, if I said that I caught that bass off a stump on the hump just off of Hangman’s Point, you’d have a lot more information.  Here’s what you’d have:
  1. Cover – stump
  2. Structure (given) – hump
  3. Structure (later quantified) – change of surface and depth.  You would get this information by looking at the water map to determine where Hangman’s Point is and then looking at the relief features to determine where the hump is.  Then you could determine the change of the surface and how deep that change was and much, much more.
Here’s a great video discussing this topic:
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