now, there is not much that hasn’t been writ- ten about offshore fishing. We all know to look for points or humps. We know to look for spots near the creek channel. We know to try and find hard bot- tom or cover. We know spots that face into the current and deflect it are typically better than just straight stretches of ledge. So why does Terry Bolton still catch more offshore fish than almost anybody? Because he spends time looking for the little things. “All of my favorite offshore spots have three or four different locations on them that the fish will get on depend- ing on if there is current or no current, or if there is fishing pressure,” Bolton said. “Most people just fish the point and move on. The fish aren’t always on the point.” The key is Bolton’s systematic approach toward fish- ing new and old ledges that allows him to understand its nooks, crannies, and contours as if they were dry land. Once he does that, it’s just a matter of finding which nook or cranny they’re on that day to locate the fish.
Every piece of land has its subtleties; even a perfectly landscaped backyard. At first the yard may look flat, but a walk around it may show a slight high spot in one corner, or a shallow ditch, or lawn ornament. A ledge is no different. It will have bends and humps and ditches all across it. That’s what Bolton wants to find when he begins to dissect a ledge, and not just at the point. If he finds a ditch on a point, that is even better. However, it is the features — a de- pression up current 20 yards from the point or a two-foot high spot that’s 20 feet farther up on the
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ledge, or a tiny turn on the backside — that intrigue Bolton as much as the point itself. Why? Because these little struc- tures are what the fish revolve around on top of a particular ledge depending on conditions. Fish, like anglers, move based on the conditions. If there is current, they may move to the point, which will be the optimum feeding spot. If there is no current, they may hunker back to a nice high spot down the ledge — a spot that makes them feel comfortable — to relax. If there is too much sun, they may go deeper to find shade on the backside of a ledge. If there is too much fishing pressure, they may escape to a depression. One of Bolton’s favorite spots on Kentucky Lake also happens to be one of its biggest “community holes.” Yet most anglers don’t realize that along with the prime point loaded with shell beds, there is also a small bend off the point’s backside and a high spot up current that falls off from 13 to 26 feet. While most anglers hit the point and move on, Bolton can hit any of the three spots and still catch fish the others miss. Where the fish will go will vary from ledge to ledge, but often the fish won’t leave a prime ledge. They will just reposition.
To find these subtleties, Bolton goes farther than most — literally — and his search usually begins with the sim- plest tool in his boat. “When I’m fishing a ledge, the moment I catch a fish I kick out a buoy,” Bolton says. “A lot of times, by the time I’ve kicked out the buoy, that’s not where the fish are. But it serves as a starting point. I’ll keep fishing around the spot where I