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Red X Angler
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structure, how the line of the bank runs, coves juts etc. Changes in water color(depth) or current if there is any. I look around on the ground and see if there are signs of other fishermen and what they have used, or left behind. I never walk right up to the edge, I approach slowly and pitch a few casts as sometimes a nice one is laying near the shoreline and you spook it on approach. I am very picky about being quiet fishing from shore. Footsteps and sounds carry more in the shallow waters in my opinion. Crappie spook easily too and often that is what I am after from shore.
 

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I concur with Drop who I am pretty sure looks at what others left while collecting it. I almost always start with a light T rigged plastic finesse worm with it rigged weedless style. You can "feel" the bottom/structure and the bullet weight and hook in the worm body can usually be teased through some snags where you might lose your favorite crankbait.
 

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Red X Angler
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I always carry a bag for trash and yes I have found some goodies too :)
 
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I always use a trigged plastic first when going for bass. I would rather lose a worm and hook than a crank. Once I think I know where the snags are I than start a crank but usually one of the cheaper ones just to make sure. Once I am confident than the joke 3/4 oz red eyed shad comes out to play. For crappie I first just use a weight on line to figure out depth than put on the hook and bobber.

Like sundry I always clean up any trash I can and within reason some of my crappie spots are LOADED with trash
 
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depends on how open an area looks. it's smart to start with a plastic as has been mentioned if you're worried about snagging up but honestly if a new area looks open I'm gonna throw a crank from the get go. I may lose a bait or two but I'm not wasting time when I could be covering the area the way I want
 

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Scout the bank on google earth first and see if you can notice a depth change or something along those lines. Like to fish points off banks as well if I can.
 
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