As August seems to be speeding to an end I was reflecting on the past 3 months after having spent a lot of time on the water fishing a few different lakes multiple times yesterday being the most recent. The lakes are relatively small with very little real fishing pressure. That said almost everyone I’ve watched in search of bass on these lakes fish the shallow shorelines or reed patches exclusively with spinnerbaits. Those chasing the elusive “eyes” - well as you know I’m certainly not qualified to make any statements as to what or how they’re doing anything! These lakes have plenty of structure, deep breaks, main lake points, flats, excellent clarity, plenty of weeds including milfoil and very good large and smallmouth populations along with pike and, so I’m told good walleye numbers. I talked to an older (ahem—veteran) angler a while ago who claimed to have boated 80 walleyes this summer trolling a leech following a splitshot for weight. He proudly showed me the proof in his livewell. Now that sounded familiar because it’s the ONLY technique I’ve had any walleye success with on my own and that happened when the season was young. But I digress. Early this summer, in fact my first time on one of the lakes I fished a last year I began on a spot wondering if they would still be there. To my amazement they were there in about 12’ of milfoil pockets on an inside weedline turn holding the boat in 16’ of water nearby. They gobbled up the jig much like last summer. Although I fished a lot of the breaks, points and flats success seemed to come from areas that had more extreme breaks with less weed expanses behind them. Maybe they were on flats but unlike my days fishing Minnetonka years ago I didn’t spend entire days looking for the needle in the proverbial milfoil haystack. I was usually able to locate 6-10 groups of fish along with some individuals never trying to catch a bunch from any area thinking they might stick around and for the most part they have but…(I’ll get back to that in a minute.)
Most days from the Ranger locker I’ll take 4-6 rods out rigged with various baits including a crankbait, sometimes if early or cloudy a topwater like a spook or Pop-R, a Texas rig, a tube jig on spinning tackle and a swim jig just in case things change. Each one has been a go-to piece of tackle in the past and leaned on hard by yours truly. Erik and Chad will testify to my love of fishing the tube on 6 lb P-Line. Absolutely love it! However, this year it’s really hard to pry that jig from my hands. I’ll bet I’ve ended up fishing it 95% of the time and by doing that tremendous confidence isn’t far behind. My thought was “if it’s not broke don’t try to fix it.” Remember though that these lakes don’t receive much fishing pressure or at least I don’t think so. I’ve witnessed a spinnerbait fish caught only one time and it was small. At the same time I’ve landed and released hundreds.
Now to the “but…” from above. These are some things I’ve learned. Each time on the water, even from one day to the next these fish seem to relocate a bit with my goal being to find them. I imagine it has to do with food but not sure. The need to find them happened quite by accident. After finding fish the day before my grand plan was to catch ‘em the next day with Erik and his girlfriend Danielle. We headed out on a Saturday morning. The day before they were tucked into milfoil pockets. I’d drop a jig into the pockets, feel them bite but not set up on them shaking most off without hooking ‘em. The thought was to go back to catch ‘em with my guests. But much to my chagrin we didn’t get a bite. Erik turned & pitched into deeper, cleaner (weedwise) water and “bang” there they were. We were able to duplicate it in most, but not all areas located earlier. Now some would say hold on that’s just a pattern that’s working for that day and it may be but the bottom line is all summer they’ve moved just a bit but willing to bite the 5/16 oz Sumpn Sumpn Jig with the Zoom Speed Craw trailer. Maybe that’s true too because that’s what I fished being alone most of the time. One instance when Erik was in the boat he went to an “old school” milfoil technique. That was a Minnetonka bait we used to use on milfoil there which was a Texas rigged Zoom Brush Hog with a screw-in Gambler weight. Any color seemed to work as long as it was green pumpkin but that’s always been my go-to color in plastics (Bob St.Pierre will testify to that). In any case he picked one up, pitched it out letting it fall the same way and it worked much the same as the jig.
So now you ask what’s this to me to & my fishing? Well for starters know these fish move around and to locate them you’ve got to keep an open mind from day to day but once you get bit slow down, turn around noting where, how deep, what’s on the bottom and what’s nearby. Two weeks ago they were on the tips of main lake points wanting the jig craw combination pulled slowly on the clean bottoms away from the weed edges. Yesterday same places, same thing- not a bite! My advantage here is using the new Humminbird 360 Imaging that allows me to see what’s happening before I get there. Without it I wouldn’t hesitate to put markers out on either side of the tip allowing casts across it. Sometimes painting the floating part black doesn’t get the magnetic attention from other anglers like those painted bright yellow or orange.
Yesterday was different again. The fish would absolutely crush a jig then immediately drop it resulting in empty hooksets for the first dozen or so. Laughing out loud to myself I imagined being up at the plate swinging ‘n missing! The bass struck out the side until I began doing one thing. When they hit I’d drop the jig to the bottom gently fluttering the claws in one place. After a few seconds they’d pick it up and get caught!
Great fun but give it a try next time out and keep in mind some of the things I’ve learned this summer!
Good luck, have fun and keep an “open mind!” OK?