Everyone wants to find shallow rip fish. Why? Because they are usually a little better fish than the usual tournament catch and, frankly, they are a hoot to catch! So, how do you "pattern" these fish?
Let's start by examining what we know and then ask the right questions. First, we know they are shallow fish. We know they are actively feeding. And, we know they are caught with greatest frequency in the morning although they can be caught all day long under the right conditions. They are most often caught on points or similar shallow structure leading to nearby deep water.
Question number one: Why are these rip fish up shallow and how do they behave? These bass have moved up during the night to feed in the shallows. As the night sky begins to lighten in the early morning, they become very aggressive because they need to feed as quickly as possible and return to the safety of deeper water. Even if they are not successful in feeding, they will usually return to that safety when the sky lights up to the point that they no longer feel "concealed" by darkness while in shallower water. But this leads to the next question - a question that I feel is the KEY to finding shallow rip fish on a regular basis!
Question number two: How do rip fish transition between deeper "safe" water and their shallow feeding grounds? If you understand their traveling habits, you can identify the structure that eludes many anglers. Fish are efficiency machines. They avoid doing any extra work whenever necessary. By the same token, they are always in search of critical structure for ambush points and their own safety. When they move up, they will instinctively follow the most efficient path that 1) is the shortest distance to their destination, 2) offers cover in which to be concealed and 3) leads to the best feeding grounds. If you can find these three characteristics, you WILL find rip fish on a consistent basis during water temperatures between 46 and 70 degrees.
Question number three: If I have found an area with the three critical characteristics (deep water nearby, good transition routes and a big feeding flat or similar prey holding structure) then how do I check it out for rip fish during the middle of the day when they probably are not shallow? This can be done! Remember, those fish are still in the vicinity, they just are not sitting on that point at high noon. All you have to do is move out to their sanctuary and throw plastics or jigs until you find a concentration of fish. Or, you might even discover suspended fish out over this deeper water. In either case, these ARE your shallow rip fish for the next morning. They will move in at night and, the next morning, you can count on those fish being right where you want them.
In my Oroville tournament Sunday, I did not find a rip fish or any other reactionbait fish during my prefish day. But, I did find several concentrations of fish in deeper water leading up to a good "rip conducive" environment. The next morning, I ran directly over those fish and went to the shallow point leading out to that previous day's deep fish concentration. (In this case, the migration route was actually a submerged roadbed with a rocky edge on one side and a line of brush on the other side.) Deep water was less then 100 feet away from the point and the point was next a huge brushy flat.
We had three reactionbait fish (2 rip and 1 spinnerbait) in the boat in 15 minutes. Then, we moved off the point to let it "rest" and, when we moved back in, I broke off a toad that took a shallow crankbait. When it got lighter, we moved off the point and went after the fish in the transition path. Later that day, we came back to that same area and caught 8-10 fish back out in 18 feet.
This is certainly not the only way to find rip fish. It is meant to offer one method to consistently find a shallow rip bite on almost any body of water. So, to consistently pattern shallow rip fish, look for three critical structure characteristics and a deep fish concentration nearby. Bet you never thought you'd be splitshottin at noon to find rip fish! Good fishin!