Trolls Under the Bridge
Like the proverbial troll, giant bass often make their home around bridges. In fact, the largest bass caught in recent history, which tied George Perry’s World Record bass of 22lbs 4oz. was caught in 2009 under a bridge by Manabu Kurita on Lake Biwa in Japan. These locations can make ideal habitat that perfectly balance structure, cover, and forage. Bridges are often located at natural choke down points in lakes that can corral baitfish into small areas as they are moved about by wind-driven currents. Generally spanning both shallow and deep water, the pilings themselves create excellent year-round ambush points. Near the shore, riprap is often present creating further hunting and spawning grounds. Many bridges can be such ideal habitat that large bass can meet all of its yearly biological needs while never needing to move more than a few yards.
The first few pilings near shore tend to hold the most bass; however, big fish can be present anywhere near the structure. Prior to fishing a bridge, conduct a full sweep of the area with your electronics using side scan to note which pilings seem to be holding the most baitfish. The best locations often change based on wind and water conditions, but generally speaking, a few small areas of the bridge will hold the lion’s share of the bait. The depth of the bait will dictate the best approach for fishing a bridge. Bait concentrations near the shoreline or shallow water pilings can often be effectively fished with jigs or other plastics. Offshore or deep-water bait may require deep diving crankbaits to reach the most desired areas. Alabama rigs, where legal, can also be lethal. Near deep water pilings these lures can be counted down to virtually any depth and be presented as a tantalizing school of passing baitfish.
On an interesting side note, Manabu’s fish was caught on a live bluegill. Indeed, bridge fishermen targeting crappie accidentally hook some of the largest bass taken annually. These fishermen will be reeling in a crappie, often on ultra-light equipment, when their rods buckle over as a giant bass swallows the crappie whole.
For the approximent location of Manabu's catch put these coordinates in Google Maps: 35°07'20.4"N 135°55'51.1"E