Winter or early spring is the most challenging time to fish. When the water temperature is in the 30s to low 40s, there are only a few lures in your box that will work.
One of my favorite baits is the suspending jerkbait. These lures can be fished extremely slow and suspended right in front of the fish enticing a bite. Suspending jerkbaits come in all sizes and colors. They can be effectively fished in many different depths of the water column.
The key to selecting a size and color boils down to two things.
One, what depth range do you anticipate the fish to be holding in? The size of the bill dictates the lure’s depth. The bigger the bill the deeper it will dive. Even in very cold water, bass will come up to the lure. I would rather have a jerkbait above the fish than have one that dives under the fish. For example, if the fish are sitting in 10 feet of water, I would select a jerkbait that dives 6 to 8 feet. You can really play with your line size to help you get the depth you want out of your lure. The lighter the line the deeper the bait will go, and the heavier the line the shallower it will run.
Two, what forage are the fish feeding on? I like a shad color in clear water for the majority of my fishing, but if the water has some stain to it I will go with a chartreuse color. If you are fishing in a natural lake with perch, then a perch color lure may be the ticket.
This time of year bites may be few and far between, so tie a lure on you have confidence in and stick with it. I think you may be surprised how many fish a suspending jerkbait can put in the boat for you when nothing else will seem to work. Go buy some of these lures and give them a shot.
I did a little DIY on one of my kayaks this weekend. I fish a little lake that is full of crappies and catfish and one of the best ways I know to catch these species in the summer is to drift fish. Trying to drift with no rod holders from a kayak is very challenging, not to mention it’s a good way to lose a rod when a big catfish strikes. They will literally pull your rod in the water. See what happened to me in the post here.
Here is how I went about it.
I mounted the rod holders to a Perception Swifty 9.5 DLX. Check out my post about purchasing a kayak here. This kayak has a flat surface that is an ideal mounting location for a rod holder or two. I decided to use the Cannon Exclusive 3-position Rod Holder. This holder is very versatile. It allows me to use bait casting or spinning tackle while having a base that swivels 360 degrees.
Mounting these were very easy. I put the bases where I thought they would work the best and used a drill bit to make a hole through the kayak. I decided to only use 2 bolts through the bases (using all 4 holes is recommended). I thought two provided enough support and I didn’t want to put more holes in the kayak than I had to. I suggest playing around with where you want to mount your rod holders first. You may want to stagger them more than I did. Do what works best for your fishing rods and style of fishing.
One other thing I like about these Cannon rod holders is the bases are fairly low and do not stick high up on the kayak. This way when I am not using rod holders and I’m casting, they will not get in my way.
I am excited to get out and try these. I know it is going to make my drift fishing much easier and hopefully will allow me to put a few more fish in the boat.
Tube jigs are a great smallmouth and largemouth lure. They can be rigged several different ways, and fished anywhere from open water to thick vegetation. One big problem with the tube jig is they can be prone to losing fish when Texas rigged. The hook can have a hard time penetrating through the thick plastic.
Here is how I tweak my hook to ensure I catch every fish that bites.
I rig the tube like I would with any other Texas rigged lure. See how here. Make sure to leave the eye of the hook exposed. Do not pull the tube all the way over the eye. Doing this will lead to the tube balling up and not allowing the hook to come through the plastic.
Once you have the tube rigged and are ready to skin hook on the other side, slightly bend the hook outward. Do not over bend it! This will lead to weakening the hook. You just want to slightly open the hook more than it was originally. This is the key; the hook will now easily hook in the fish’s mouth without the worry of it going back through all the plastic.
This little modification will really help you hook up when fishing the tube Texas rigged. Try it and you won’t be disappointed.
There is a common thought in bass fishing, if you want to catch bigger fish, use bigger baits. I agree with this, but you typically don’t get as many bites using larger lures. I personally like catching all sizes of bass and hate to throw a bait that I know will only get a few bites.
One large lure that will catch big and small bass alike is a 10″ worm. This bait looks more like a snake in the water than a worm. Don’t let that bother you, it will catch all sizes of bass. I like to use the Berkley 10″ Power Worm. Black is my favorite color. That’s the only color you need. This bait works in clear and murky water.
Huge worms like this seems to work the best in very warm water. Bass get a little lethargic in hot water and like a slow moving meal. They normally will not pass up an opportunity at eating breakfast, lunch, and dinner all in one bite.
One misconception I have heard is you can only use big baits in big lakes and that you must use small baits in small bodies of water. I recently proved that theory wrong. I fished my pond using this lure and caught multiple small and large bass. Think about it, have you ever seen big snakes or bull frogs around small ponds? I know I have. Bass in all sizes of lakes and ponds are used to eating big things. Try this lure and see how it works for you.
My dad and I recently floated the White River near Brookville, Indiana in a canoe. This is the fastest flowing stretch of river in Indiana. There were definitely some areas of very swift current. The river is very scenic and offers some great water to fish. We even saw a bald eagle on this trip.
Picking the right lure is critical for success when you are floating at such a quick pace. Fishing with fast moving lures is by far the easiest and most productive way to cover water in these situations. Sure, you can anchor, fish the pockets and deep areas slowly, but these lures will work for the entire float trip in all current speeds.
I like to choose fast moving topwater lures such as a buzzbait or a fast working “walk the dog” style lure. This river is very clear and the smallmouth bass love to hit these speedy topwater lures. Choosing smaller baits is a great choice. There are a lot of small bass in rivers like this and bigger baits will not get as many bites. Don’t worry, big bass will hit these smaller lures too.
A shallow diving crankbait in a crawdad pattern is also a great option. These lures dive fast and deflect off most rock and wood cover making them very efficient. Not to mention, crawdads are very prominent in rivers and stream making them a regular meal for most fish. In the shallow stretches I hold the rod tip high which helps the bait run much shallower. When I come to deeper water in the river I will hold the rod tip low to the water, making the bait dive deeper.
Another option I like to throw is a small swimbait. Picking the right jig head is very important. If you choose too light of a head the lure will just be swept down stream with no action. If you go too heavy, it will sink and get stuck in the rocks and boulders. A good rule of thumb is to start with 1/4 ounce head and see how that works.
If you haven’t floated a stream or river in the summer months, you should give it a try. You can catch a wide variety of fish and will usually have the entire water to yourself.
By now almost everyone owns a Whopper Plopper. If you don’t own one, you need to. This is a fish catching machine. Bass, pike, and muskies love the sound and action of this bait. Check out my “Most Exciting way to Bass Fish” post here to learn more about this bait and others.
This bait comes with some sticky, sharp treble hooks. Hooking the fish is usually pretty easy on the Whopper Plopper, but we have all had those days when they just don’t hook up. If you encounter a day when the fish flash under it, swirl near it, or miss the bait entirely try this trick.
Take the back treble off the bait and change it to a feather or bucktail treble hook. This changes the look of the bait and gives the fish something extra to see. Often times by adding this style hook, the fish fully commit to striking the bait.
I think this will really help you on those days when the fish keep missing your Whopper Plopper. This also works very well on popping style topwater baits too!
This past Memorial Day was one of the hottest I can remember. While most Hoosiers were watching the Indy 500, my nephew and I were on the lake catching some crappies.
It was 90 degrees and super humid. This would have been a great day to relax in the water, like many others were doing. The water temperature actually rose 8 degrees during the time we were on the lake. It was 76 in the morning and 84 by the afternoon!
The crappies are pretty much done with the spawn and are transitioning to their deep water summer patterns. When the water temperatures get into the 80’s they are usually located in deep water. The pattern we found is almost done now for the summer. We caught our fish in shallow water around docks. The fish were located in the shadiest parts. Skipping plastic grubs worked the best. (Check out a previous post about my favorite crappie lures.)
Crappie fishing can be very difficult on hot, calm, sunny days. If you are faced with these conditions in late spring to early summer, it may be worth skipping some docks to see if you can get a few bites. I know we had a great Memorial Day on the water.