Sometimes you catch fish in shallow waters. Sometimes you catch fish in deep water. It can be frustrating as hell to find the fish in the shallows one week, think you’re going to go back the next week and find them in the same spot. Then you don’t.
Here’s what I’ve found. If the weather has been steady, say it’s been a steady warm early autumn. There hasn’t been any rain. You are out on the water and its warm, almost hot. When that happens and I’m on a boat, I cast into the 2 ft zone. Maybe I use a soft plastic bait. Let the bait sit for a moment, then crank it in. Sometimes the fish take it as soon as it leaves the bottom. Sometimes they follow it. If the bait is halfway to the boat and still no bites, let it drop. The sudden stop and then sudden retrieve can trigger a strike.
If there is a major weather shift, or the seasons are changing, the fish may go deep. Sometimes 18 feet or more is where you’ll find the big bass. Cast to the 2 foot to 4 foot depth using a Carolina rig. Drag that bait slow down the slope. (Or use a deep diving crank bait.) Pause occasionally and give it a good jerk. The fish will pick it up in the 10-18 foot range, sometimes even deeper.
If you find them deep, then start making long casts parallel to the shore at the depth you found them. Then start filling your livewell!