Like on an old pirate treasure map, X marks the spot.
In this case, the treasure is some future fishing hotspots, and X marks their location during periods of low water. Mark them now, return to them later.
Most lakes have winter drawdowns when the water is lowered in anticipation of heavy spring rains.
It’s a perfect time to locate rocky points, downed trees, stump rows and other cover that later will be submerged. That’s where fish will be holding when the water rises.
Granted, many fishermen nowadays are equipped with high-tech electronics and don’t need to mark the spot by lining it up with a big cedar or craggy old sycamore on the bank. With the press of a button they can view the contour of the bottom and whatever cover is down there.
But even for them, knowing about where the contours and cover is will allow the gadget-minded anglers to hone in on the spot, rather than puttering around looking at a wavering radar screen.
If they know there’s a stump row about 25 feet out from the big cedar, they can go straight to it, and spend more time fishing and less time searching.
There’s a friend who puts out fish attractors during the winter when the water is low. He marks them by reference points on the bank – say, halfway between a rock outcropping and a craggy sycamore. In Corps of Engineers Lakes like Percy Priest, putting out fish attractors has to be approved by the lake managers.
Some mark their fish attractors by sticking a bottle or can on a tree limb. The problem with that is it tips off the spot to other fishermen.
There is a long stretch of shoreline at Percy Priest along which every foot looks identical when the water is high. But below the surface lies a rocky point that juts far out into the lake, and crappie congregate around it in the spring.
You can’t see it, but you know it’s there because you found it back in the winter. Come spring, you can catch oodles of fish around it if you know precisely where to cast – about 30 yards down from two big cedars.
Like finding any hidden treasure, the key is knowing where to look.