Finding Fish in a Lake - Simple Strategies

Fishing is all about knowing where the fish hide in a lake. In this article, we'll show you what to look for when finding fish in a lake. We'll also help you adjust your fishing game for each season, so you can catch more fish all year round. Whether you're after bass, trout or other fish, there are certain structures and features you need to look out for. Dive into this guide, and let's make your fishing trips more exciting and fruitful.

Find Underwater Edges and Drop-Offs

Underwater edges and drop-offs are areas where there’s a steep decline from a relatively shallow water into deep water. These fish holes are a perfect area where fish like to hang out and hunt for their food. A good way to find a drop-off is to look at the surrounding area around the lake. If you see a steep hill edge a good chance is that there will be a drop-off in that area. Also look for a point that extends into a lake. Good change that there will be sharp drop-off in that area.

Use Google Maps and i-Boating to Find Underwater Edges

Before going to the lake use Google Maps to view the lake and plan where you will fish. Once you have a rough idea you can use i-Boating to view lake contours to see how deep the lake is and where the drop-offs are. Fish at the places where the contour lines are the closest together. The closer the lake contours the steeper the edges.

Fish Near Structure

Fish around any type of structure on the lake such as dams, bridges, docks, trees and rocks. Dam: there are almost always fish around dams. Be sure to check around the corners of a dam or anywhere in the area. Bridges: if there’s a bridge near the lake try fishing around the cement columns or rock beds. Docks: man-made docs are always good places to check for fish. Fish like to hang around doc columns and other wooden areas of the doc. Trees: Look for trees that are hanging over a lake or that have fallen into the water. Rocks and Boulders: look for large rocks or boulders around the lake. These areas can contain many places for fish to hide between.

Other structures aren’t as easy to see. These include underwater weeds and plants. If you happen to locate a weed bed fish around the edges. Also keep an eye out for life. If there’s fish splashing around or there are birds in one area that might indicate there’s fish life there too.

Fish Around Inlets and Outlets

Look for areas where water flows into and out of the lake like small rivers and creeks. These spots can be attractive to fish because of the increased oxygen flow and potential for food. Search your lake on Google Maps and look for any rivers or creeks that flow into the lake.


The season is a major factor when it comes to locating fish in a lake. Understanding seasonal movements will greatly increase your chances of finding fish in a particular lake.

Finding Fish During Spring

To find fish during spring time look close to shore and in shallow lake waters from 1 to 10 feet deep. Do not fish in deep waters. In spring fish look for warm water to spawn. Shallow areas of the lake warm up the quickest and that’s where most fish will be. Look for shallow banks and near rivers and creeks. You don’t have to fish in the early morning. The water is still cold during spring so a good time to fish during spring is later in the day when the water warms up.

Finding Fish During Summer

Fish deeper waters during summer. Focus on drop-offs and edges that are in deep water. Check the contours in i-Boating to see where the deep water drop-offs are in your lake. Other places to check are shaded areas like docs, vegetation, hanging trees or any other type of cover. Summer is a good time to fish early in the morning or later on in the afternoon. The mid-day might be too hot for fish and so they will retreat to deeper, cooler water to seek refuge from the sun.

Finding Fish During Fall

During fall you will once again find most fish in the shallower parts of a lake. Larger fish emerge from deeper waters into shallows in order to feed. Check inlet areas where a river or creek enter the lake. Shad and baitfish will shift from creeks and rivers into the lake to look for more stable water temperatures. Larger fish will follow in order to feed. In general fall is when fish start feeding to sustain themself for the winter so look for baitfish. If you see baitfish flapping around in a particular area, there’s a good chance larger fish are near by.

Finding Fish During Winter

In winter time fish seek out warmest water they can find. Try fishing in deep water as that were warm water will be. Fish still feed during winter time so river and creek inlets are good places to check. However try the deepest parts of those areas. You do not have to wake up early to go fishing during winter as it’s cold and fish won’t be active. The best time to fish during the winter months is between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.

Use Our Fishing Sports Section

Also, our Fishing Sports section has an interactive map of lakes and reservoirs that can help you find fish in your lake. Just search for your lake and if we have it you will be able to look up where others have caught fish. There's also information on what kinds of fish are popular, what months are the most popular to catch fish and what time.