LOCATION #1, #2, #20 & #23
Location: #1, #2, #20, & #23
Italy’s Sock (also known as Boot Hill or Horseshoe Ridge) – Italy’s Sock was even good back in the old days when the hump of it used to stick up out of the water. You could throw a jerk-bait around it and catch seven and a half-pound fish. Today Italy’s Sock a.k.a. Boot Hill or Horseshoe Ridge- is a prime area for double-digit fish. The area from its pond/dam #20 and to the very East End of Horseshoe Ridge #23 is a classic funnel point. You have points, ditches and funnel points that provide you the chance to catch a huge fish. You hear the word “funnel point” spoken often. It’s a catch word that people in the fishing industry probably tend to over use. It’s a word used to simplify something that is fairly detailed in actual practice. Sometimes the real meaning of that word is overlooked and is cloudy to some people. It really requires more than one word for an explanation. Some anglers don’t totally understand why it is called a funnel nor can they recognize the topographic features that would indicate that they were looking at one. I was talking to a friend of mine last night and he put it in words that most people, even I could easily understand. Basically he said it could be explained with an old time chicken joke. Why did the chicken cross the road? He said that but he substituted the word “fish” for chicken. Why did the fish cross the road? Well, his answer was that it really didn’t cross the road. Normally it would not cross the road so the chances are that you wouldn’t find him in the middle of the road. Right, it didn’t cross the road because that ain’t his thing. This is your typical lazy fish that does not want to spend the extra effort in order to do that. It’s just like any other creature. When you go to the mail box out in front of your house, you don’t head for the back door and then climb over the top of your house in order to get to the mailbox at the street out front. That would cause you some significant physical discomfort. Also, in the process of climbing over the roof of your house you might fall off and hurt yourself. That would be a safety issue. A big bass thinks in terms of limited effort exerted and safety. For one, this big bass has this thing called an air bladder. This air bladder keeps it from sinking to the bottom. So, whenever these fish move up or down in the water (when they make a significant change in elevation), this badder is affected and it requires the fish to expend an amount of energy which in turn results in some amount of discomfort. So, like every other creature in the world, this fish finds that if it follows a path of least resistance it can expend less energy and have less to worry about. And besides that, their food (bait fish) is taking that same path of least resistance for the same reasons. Staying along that same comfort route provides these fish more safety. So, for folks to sum up all that information into the one word “funnel” is convenient only. It could be more helpful if people talked more about it, especially for those that have never really had someone explain it in simple terms. That would be me. I like things to be simple. So, Boot Hill provides the perfect example for the perfect, natural, funnel point of any lake. If you can study and totally recognize this topographic feature, then that pattern can be applied to any lake. If you will notice, there is a significant drop-off on both sides of this nice, long extended, main lake point. A point like this can often contain fish in different levels along that same path.
Jimmy Martin-mapping the far west side of Cooper Lake when it had just opened – summer of 1998
That being said Boot Hill is a much more versatile location than the cove due north of it. The cove north of it is limited mostly to spawn related type fishing. The “Hill” area provides most everything you will need to fish all types of patterns through out the year. It contains migration routes, summer patterns, spawning patterns, feeding patterns and etc, etc. All these patterns are very available in the Boot Hill area. For the super-big double-digit fish in the area you can bet that they will follow that before mentioned funnel directly into the dam of Boot Hill’s pond #20. This thing comes way out into the main body of the lake. You will notice lots of trees that were left out there when they filled the lake as well. The large fish will feed in the vicinity of these broken off trees/stumps. These fish will travel a path back and forth along both sides from the tip of Boot Hill, back west and back east along that route. At the dam of that pond (location #20) you will want to fish the first and last hour of the day if you’re in this vicinity. You can usually pick fish up there during those two moments. This is more of a feeding pattern that occurs here. Obviously feeding patterns are different than the spawning patterns talked about previously.
What to do: Use flukes, football jigs, deep diving crank baits, trick worms and etc.
The topography here (the elevation and shape changes to this area) creates a natural “fish” funneling effect (shown in the picture below). This is Boot Hill shown below. You are looking at a view looking east. Now, looking at this picture realize that these fish are going to follow back and forth up and around this point protruding into the lake. Now think of adding another 28 feet of water over the top of all this. Those fish are still going to be doing the same thing now as they were when all that water wasn’t covering it. They’re not going to be climbing over the top of their house. They are going to be following a path around this structure. That is a big bass doorway. That bass door is the same equal thing to him as the front door of your house is to you.
Below is that same tip of Boot Hill. You’re looking looking West. You can easily see the vast amount of timber that is close by.
Here is a shot of Boot Hill looking South at it 28 feet below normal pool level. It’s a significant hump for a fish to have to climb over so they’re going to stay along the contour of the this structure. Now what you need to do next is let your graph show you where and at what depth the fish are holding at along this route. That will tell you where to work that path.