Find food to find fishA very basic yet often overlooked principle of fishing is that you’ve got to put your bait near a fish if you want to catch a fish.
By: Bob Jensen, Fishing the Midwest, The Jamestown Sun
A very basic yet often overlooked principle of fishing is that you’ve got to put your bait near a fish if you want to catch a fish.
So often we spend too much time thinking about lure shape or lure color or lure size or how fast our lure is moving, when, in reality, those things don’t matter if the fish aren’t seeing our lure. Only after we’ve found where the fish are does the shape and color and size and speed of the lure make a difference. If we want to catch fish, we’ve first got to be fishing where the fish are.
During the late summer months, predator fish can be in a number of locations. Just last week I was fishing for largemouth bass. We were moving from lake to lake, fishing a couple of spots in one lake, then moving to another lake. It was interesting but not surprising to find that we could catch bass on the weedline in one lake, but when we went just a few miles down the road to another lake, the weedlines were barren of fish, but the shallow rushes had lots of them.
The key is, if you want to catch predator fish like bass, walleyes, pike or panfish, you’ve got to find their food. Find what they’re eating and you’ll find the bigger fish.
We’ve been taught that walleyes live close to the bottom, and often they do. But not always. If the food they’re after is suspended or close to the surface, that’s where the walleyes will be. I’ve seen this happen all across walleye country, from Mille Lacs in Minnesota to Green Bay in Wisconsin to Rathbun in Iowa. The shad or alewives or ciscoes were near the surface and the walleyes were just below them. Traditional tactics like rigging and jigging on the bottom didn’t work, but put a Crawler Hauler or Baitfish Image spinner with a crawler ten feet below the surface behind a planer board and prepare to get bit.
Since the fish are just below the surface in this situation, we need to get our baits out away from the boat, and planer boards are the best way to do so. I’ve seen so many situations this time of year when walleyes, crappies, and white bass were over 20 or 30 feet of water, but just a few feet below the surface. Pulling planer boards were the best way, in some situations the only way to catch them. Off Shore Tackle is the leader in planer board technology. Their boards are easy to use and easy to read, and have been the reason many fish that ordinarily would have gone uncaught have been caught.
If you’re after largemouth bass and see bluegills schooling on the surface, try running a crankbait through them. Cast past the schooling ‘gills, and select a crankbait that will run just under them. Bass will often be found under these schools, and it seems like they’re looking for something a little out of the ordinary. I like to use a crankbait that doesn’t look like the bluegills: Give the bass something different to eat. However, lots of anglers who follow this pattern like to “match the hatch.” They want their bait to look like a bluegill. Do whatever you have the most confidence in.
At this time of year, or any time of year, it’s critical to put your lure where the fish are. After you know where they are, that’s when you start fine-tuning your presentation by experimenting with lure color and size and all the other variables. If you do that, you’re going to catch more fish.
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