Building a Better Brush Pile

by Steve Masters, ProStaff

If you really want to get serious about setting out brush piles prepare yourself for some hard work, but it can pay off big later. Bass will use brush piles throughout the year but the heat of summer and winter are the prime times to fill your live well with brush pile bass or turn that 14 pound limit into a 20 pound sack with a big brush pile kicker. I’m not advocating breaking any laws but the ol chain saw and pruning shears method is hard to beat. About the best way to legally get and sink trees is asking someone clearing a lot off for construction for the ones they cut. They had rather give them to you than have to deal with them themselves almost every time. Another way for me at Lake Mitchell was after a tornado had gone through; there were prime hardwoods of all sizes along the bank blown over. A lot of my brush piles are large trees I’ve found floating down the river. If I’m just out fishing for fun I usually have a few concrete blocks in the floor of my boat just in case. You’ll probably be surprised how much you can find to sink if you get in the habit of looking for it while on the lake.

– Lake Mohave

A lot has been said about Christmas trees good and bad. Personally
I use them, but they only make up about 20% or less of my pile. A bass
isn’t going to sit around starring at a Christmas tree all day. They
need some bulk, something they can get under for shade or cruise around
in looking for food. Just like the bass the bait fish need something
they can hide and move around in if they are going to hang around. A
couple of Christmas trees or a bush placed beside the main pile gives
bait fish somewhere to gather. Think of these as the bass’ dinning
room. I can put up having to vacuum my boat afterwards if it means more
fish in the boat. I’ve tried the pvc pipes sticking out of a bucket
with concrete in them. I don’t see these as good brush piles but an
addition to the main pile.

What to use for the main pile? To me
nothing works better than a real tree, preferably any hardwood, but I
want turn my back on a big pine if I catch one floating along. Before
sinking a tree think about getting hung up in it. Trim all the twigs
and smaller limbs. The more forks it has the better. Point the treetop
towards where you’ll be fishing from. Jut before I untie and let it
sink I tie a concrete block to the under side of the trunk to keep it
up off the bottom. A tree trunk lying flat has little to offer a bass.
Construction sites are great for finding brush pile material. There’s a
gold mine in those dumpsters, and it’s free. You may get some strange
looks but I’ve never had anyone object to me getting something they
have to pay someone to haul off. One thing I like to do is liquid nail
a few pieces of 4″ black drain pipe into a large landscape bucket, let
it sit a few days, fill the pipe about half way up with concrete, then
while wet flip it all over so the concrete falls to the bottom of the
pipes. What you wind up with is a stump sitting a foot or so off the
bottom with 4″ roots around it and it will all last forever.

See what you can find and let your imagination go to work, just keep in
mind shade, security, and ambush. Speaking of lasting forever I use
only copper wire scrapes for tying my blocks to brush. Nylon rope and
treble hooks are not a good match. One of the few things I never use is
palettes, too many pinch points to get hung in. My most productive
brush pile has a good size tree, a 10 foot fiberglass column with
blocks on each end to keep it off the bottom a bit, a couple of
Christmas trees, and five landscape buckets with a three foot pvc pipe
sticking up from the center. I cut slits in the pipe and glued small
real-estate signs into them. Like I said be prepared for some work, and
use your imagination. Also prepare yourself to fail. I’ve place brush
piles in some really good looking places that have never produced a
fish. If fish aren’t using an area don’t expect them to use your brush

As for size and location I want my pile to be about the
size of my boat. Large enough to hold multiple fish but I can fish it
in 15 minutes or so. As far as location there are the obvious creek
channel intersections, and bends, but my favorite is to place one in 8
to 10 feet leading into a shallow pocket that has little natural cover,
especially light on vegetation. Think about whether or not it will be
seen, or cause a hazard when your lake is at its absolute lowest level.
Location could be an article by itself. As for when to plant brush
winter is no doubt the best time, fewer eyes, and all the leaves have
fell. Good Luck and hope to see you on the lake, especially if you
dragging a brush pile.

– Lake Mohave