Rock Piles For Bass And Crappie

A couple weeks ago Mike Poe of Siler, North Carolina, wrote an e-mail, saying: "With my home lake being down so low, we are marking some stumps and putting in some brush. I want to brush up some barren shallow flats like my friends at Kentucky lake do."

He also noted that he was inspired by an In-Fisherman story that featured the methods that Marcus Sykora of Osage Beach, Missouri, and Dion Hibdon of Stover, Missouri, employed in creating brush piles at the Lake of the Ozarks.

Here's another fish-attracting alternative that Poe and other anglers should consider.

Tim Sainato of Walnut Shade, Missouri, used to do a lot of scuba diving at Table Rock Lake, where he has guided for decades, and during some of his deep-water adventures, he noticed that gravel humps and long, flat gravel points that sat in 30 to 40 of water and were graced with one stump almost always had two or three bass hovering around that stump. That observation prodded him to find a way to attract bass to deep gravel points and humps that weren't graced with a stump.  The easiest method would have been to create and anchor a brush pile. But brush piles are relatively easy for other anglers to find, and they are difficult to fish.

Therefore, Sainato decided to place some big rocks on these barren underwater gravel terrains.  In 1995, he started this endeavor by marking an ideal location with a temporary buoy marker, and then he made five trips from the shoreline to the buoy marker with his bass boat loaded with a dozen big rocks. Because the water is 30 and 40 feet deep, he can't create a rock pile; instead his big rocks speckle the gravel terrain.  Now he has scores of deep-water gravel points or humps enhanced with 60 large rocks. And across the years, some his rock deposits have become bass magnets. Besides being difficult for other anglers to find — even with today's state-of-the-art electronic equipment, Sainato has found them to be an ideal lair on which to present a football-head jig and trailer to the bass that inhabit those rocks.

For nearly two decades, Ray Brooks of Perry, Kansas, and Terry Hinson of Ozwakie, Kansas, have anchored thousands of brush piles in Perry and Clinton lakes from which they have extracted untold numbers of crappie.

In 2010, this duo started building rock piles, too.

Brooks and Hinson's work is different and a tad more laborious than Sainato's.  They manhandle boulders that weigh from 30 to 100 pounds into their boat, loading as many as 15 boulders at a time into their boat, and each of their rock piles contains 50 to 60 boulders. Sainato's rocks are smaller, and his rocks are scattered in a defined area across the bottom of a deep-water gravel point or hump. Brooks and Hinson stack their boulders in a pile.  The pile is two to three feet high. Instead of placing them in 30 to 40 feet of water as Sainato does at Table Rock, which is a highland reservoir, Brooks and Hinson place their rocks in 8 to 10 feet of water in Clinton Lake, which is a flatland reservoir.

Their rock piles are constructed on hard-bottom locations, such as a submerged roadbed.  Before Brook and Hinson go to the monumental effort of carting 2,000 pounds of boulders across the lake and creating a rock pile, they always thoroughly fish the area to ensure that some fish naturally inhabit the locale.  Then once the rock pile is made, Brooks and Hinson have found that a rock pile will attract the fish that had been scattered pell-mell across the vicinity.  They note the rock pile attracts them the way a brush pile does, but a rock pile is easier to fish, lasts longer, and is more difficult for other anglers to find.

During the spring of 2010, Brooks and Hinson caught not only crappie on the rock piles, but they also tangled with an impressive array of  smallmouth bass, walleye and wipers.

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