Tips

Whopper Plopper Tip

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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

Fishing Trips · Tips

Memorial Day Crappie Fishing

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.

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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!

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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.)

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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.

Tips

Finicky Bluegills

The first fish you probably ever caught was a bluegill. Bluegills have been hooking kids on fishing for years. These fish are notorious for being easy to catch, but what do you do when these fish won’t cooperate? Go weightless.

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Bluegills go through times when they are very fickle and hard to catch. When I encounter this situation, I go very basic in my rigging and it almost always catches them.

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The tackle I use is 6 pound Berkley XL line,  a small bobber, and a  #4 Aberdeen hook. Wax worms or crickets are my bait of choice when bluegill are in a negative mood and won’t bite anything else. The light line paired with this hook allows the bait to fall very slowly. Bluegill can not resist the slow fall of a wax worm or cricket.

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This technique works the best when the fish are located in shallow clear water. The fish need to be able to see the slow fall of the bait in order for it to work. This is also ideal to use in the spring when the fish are spawning.

Bass fisherman talk about “finesse” fishing all the time. This is an ultra “finesse” way to catch bluegill, but I guarantee you it will produce fish when nothing else will.

Tips

My Three Favorites Baits When Bass are on Their Bed

Seeing a bass make a meal of your offering is rare. Visually seeing how a big bass will react to your lure is also very uncommon, but this is exactly what happens when fishing for bedded bass. Fishing for spawning bass presents a very unique challenge. When the water temperature reaches 55 to 65 degrees bass start seeking out spawning areas. This is also when you should start hunting the shallows for bass.

The tube bait comes in many different sizes and colors. The tube is very subtle which makes it a good choice on very finicky fish. This bait is a StrikeKing Bitsy Tube

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The craw is another great lure for bed fishing. Bass don’t like these guys hanging around and will usually eat this style of bait. This bait is a NetBait Paca Chunk.

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Bass can be very finicky when they are on their beds. One color of bait I really like to use is white. I like to see exactly where the bait is in the bed and white allows this. 

Last but not least is the Big Bite Baits 3.5 Warmouth. Big bass love eating bluegill, and this bait looks just like one.  They also hate bluegill because they eat the eggs and their babies. Put this bait in front of the bass and it will either pick it up and move it, or swallow it. Either way, it works.

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Try these few baits next time you encounter bass on their beds. Patience is key when fishing like this, but keep putting one of these lures in the bed and the bass will eventually eat it.

 

Tips

Tough Spring Days

There are times in the spring when the weather outside is picture perfect. Although it may seem like an ideal day for fishing, it can be one of the worst. I would much rather fish in spring on a warm cloudy day with a front moving in. The days after a front moves through and there isn’t a cloud in the sky, are about the worst days to fish.

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I recently spent a gorgeous afternoon on the water with bright blue skies and little wind. I tried many of my favorite spring time lures with no success.

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I fished for almost an hour with no bites. Once I picked up a small suspending jerkbait I started catching some. The exact bait was a Lucky Craft Pointer suspending jerkbait. I did not catch any big ones, but I started getting some bites. I ended up catching over a dozen small bass on this lure.

On this day, the suspending jerkbait was the ticket for me. Tomorrow it might be something completely different. Even though I was able to catch a few, I would’ve had more success on a less picturesque day. But a day on the lake is still better than one doing yard work.

Recipes

Lake to Plate

There is nothing quite like fresh walleye or sauger. I caught a big sauger on Saturday and we cooked it on Sunday. I really wanted to cook it on the grill since it was 60 degrees outside. Unfortunately, when I caught the fish the weather was much worse. It was 35 degrees, but the fish didn’t seem to mind.

I tried a new style of cooking fish. I have cooked fish on the grill many times, but never  in an aluminum foil packet. I also cooked sliced potatoes the same way.

I started out by patting the filets dry. Then, I drizzled lemon juice over the entire fish. Next, I sprinkled many different seasonings on the filets including, salt, pepper, Lowry’s, Old Bay, paprika, onion powder, and garlic powder. I topped the fish with butter and wrapped it up in the foil.

The potato packs were seasoned with salt, pepper, and Lowry’s. I added two slices of bacon for some extra flavor. If you haven’t tried using bacon on potatoes this way, I highly recommend it!

I cooked the potato packs for about a half hour on the grill, flipping about every 10 minutes. The fish took about 15 minutes total, flipping once. Don’t be afraid to take a peek in the packets when grilling this way. You would hate to open it and have them a little too crispy!

This recipe took about 10 minutes to prepare and about 30 minutes to cook. Most of the time was dedicated to peeling and slicing the potatoes. The fish took 3 minutes to prepare. I was surprised how evenly the sauger cooked in the packet. The packet also held the fish together, and it did not fall apart when flipping. We will be cooking fish again this way in the future


 

Tips

An App Every Fisherman Needs

I enjoy fishing new bodies of water. I like the challenge of catching fish on a lake that I have never seen. One tool that I use to catch more fish is the Navionics app. This app shows you the contours of the lake, fishing spots, boat ramps, marinas, and the weather among other features. I think it is a wise investment for fishermen and boaters.

The app will cost you $9.99, same as the cost of a new lure. I use this to study lakes before going fishing to identify productive fishing spots. I was surprised how many lake are listed. I was also pleasantly surprised to see all of the very small local lakes are on here too.

It is also very helpful if you do not have a fish finder with a mapping card built in. Simply pull your phone out and see exactly where you are on the lake. It plots your current location while using the app. I know ice fishermen who use this and love it because of this reason alone. They can walk exactly to the spot they want to fish, drill a hole, and start catching fish.

I also like this app because it shows you boat ramp locations and marinas. This is very helpful when driving to a lake that you are unfamiliar with. You can quickly see the ramp locations on the lake and plan your route. It also makes navigating the lake much safer because you can locate the shallow areas before you launch your boat.

If you love to fish or just want to be a safer boater, I would recommend downloading the Navionics app. I know it has helped me.