Roadbeds are my personal favorite type of offshore structure to catch bass off of. They’re how I learned how to catch bass offshore and one of the first things I try to find whenever I start examining new water. Bass love them, and if you’re new to offshore fishing, they are arguably the easiest offshore structure to fish effectively.
What exactly is a roadbed?
A roadbed is simply a road that became submerged when a reservoir was flooded. They’re only found in man-made lakes for obvious reasons, and they are some of the best offshore structure you can find.
Roadbeds can set up in a lot of different ways and two are rarely the same. If and when fish use them can depend on where in the lake they are, how deep they are, how depth variation they provide, and more.
Why do fish like roadbeds?
So why are these things such bass magnets? Well, for starters, the hard road surface provides a hard bottom, which bass prefer as a rule. Many also provide a significant depth change, which makes for suitable bass habitat as well. A lot of roads had a bridge over the main river channel prior to the reservoir flooding, which is usually blown out and creates a situation where the road runs right up to the river channel. A lot of roads, much like the roads that cross your lake now, are elevated and provide rocky drop-off on either side. All of these things make primo bass habitat.
How do you find roadbeds?
Actually finding road beds on your lake can be kind of tricky, but mapping resources are getting more accurate by the day and there are a few tricks you can use to shorten the process
Many of the mapping apps out there will actually show you where road beds are, which is great, but the accuracy is, um, not great. Sometimes there is a road there, sometimes there is not, and even if there is, it’s often not in the right place. There are road beds on your lake that are not on navionics, for example, and these will always be places that see less fishing pressure.
In addition to actual marked roadbeds, some will not be marked but will show up on the contour lines if they have steep edges. Contour maps are a great place to start.
In addition to your topo maps, you can also look at regular satellite maps. Sometimes you can see where an old road ran on land, and you can bet there’s a good chance a road bed exists in the water at the end of it.
Just go looking
After mapping, you just have to go looking. I’ve found a lot of roadbeds that were nowhere to be found on mapping just by driving around, including some ones that have delivered in tournaments. You mostly just have to drive around, but there are two tricks you can use that can help
Bridges – It’s very common to find roadbeds running parallel to bridges. This is for a simple reason: they rebuilt the road when the reservoir was flooded. This is a surprisingly dependable way to find these things in some lakes.
Breaks in the tree lines – Oftentimes, you’ll see a break in the trees on the shoreline where an old road used to run. Scanning the shoreline with your eyes as you scan the bottom with your fishfinder can reveal the occasional old road.
How do you fish a roadbed?
First thing you need to do is scan the entirety of the roadbed and drop waypoints across the whole thing so you can see exactly where it runs on your unit. Then, I like to start by dragging something across the road like a football jig or big worm. You’ll be able to feel exactly where the rocks start and end and you can position your boat correctly and know whether or not you’re making the right cast. This is especially true if you’re new or inexperienced in offshore fishing.
You’ll often see people position their boats off the end of the road where it breaks, then they’ll throw up on top and fish down the end of it, like shown in the photo.
You should do this, but you should also fish the rest of the roadbed too, which can be really good as well and not fished as often. I’ve caught a lot of really big fish on roadbeds by fishing them close to where they meet the bank.
When are roadbeds good?
You can find fish on roadbeds literally any time of the year, but most tend to run into deep water and provide summer and winter structure when the fish prefer to be deeper. Roadbeds on the main lake are always worth your time in the summer
Roadbeds can sometimes be really good early prespawn and late postspawn spots too. Because they usually run from the main river channel all the way to the bank, they provide great staging areas for bass to slide up to the bank to spawn, as well as great places to do the opposite once the weather starts to get hot. Roadbeds between spawning pockets and the main lake can be absolute gold mines when the first waves of fish start coming off the bank.
I recall a day in late April a few years ago when it had become clear the fish were vacating the shallows. We caught one fish flipping the areas I had been catching them the week before. We slid out to a roadbed that cut across the main channel leading out of one of the biggest spawning areas on the lake and six pounders were literally pushing shad to the surface and blowing them up. We caught 24 pounds in an hour.
If there are roadbeds on your lake and you aren’t fishing them, you’re making a mistake. Check those places out. There are bass there, I promise.