Summer fishing is probably my favorite time of year to go fishing. There is nothing I love more than those peaceful quiet mornings when the birds are chirping and the water is glass. Fish seem to be aggressive and the air feels nice and soft. Moments like these are what makes fishing so special and unique. When fishing during the summer months, there are some key takeaways to keep in mind. Summer provided good fishing for just about every species you are after. During this time of year, fish are scattered around the lake and on the hunt for food. You can look to catch fish on all the usual summer fish locations as previous years. Once water temperatures stabilize and fish get into the groove of the summer conditions you can really pattern them good.
Summer Smallmouth Bass
One of my favorite fish to catch during the summer months are smallmouth bass. When fishing summertime smallmouth there are a few things you need to be aware of. Summer smallmouth bass in lake systems typically prefers cooler water. Although, that doesn’t mean you won’t find them up shallow feeding on the flats. Generally smallmouth bass prefers deep, cool, clean water where they can really flourish. Many of the lakes I fish in the northern Wisconsin region hold beautiful, pristine clear smallmouth gems. When I’m guiding, clients really seem to enjoy tangling with these beautiful creatures on light tackle. One of the most effective ways to catch smallmouth bass it simply with a worm and sinker. Summertime smallmouth bass are an absolute sucker for a basic worm and hook combo. Keeping it simple is sometimes the best way to go when fishing. Summer bass tend to feed heavily on insects, worms and other small fish making up most of there diet. Matching the hatch can be key to your success, meaning use a lure that matches to what they’re eating.
Summer Northern Pike
Another fish I enjoy targeting during the summer months is northern pike. Northern pike, in general, tend to have a mean behavior. These fish are highly aggressive and will strike most baits during the summer months. My favorite way to catch summertime northern pike is with a fat sucker under a bobber. During the summer large northern pike tend to concentrate in the cooler water of lakes. Northern pike, unlike there musky cousins, prefer cool water. You can expect to find bigger northern pike in coldwater springs of small lakes or off deeper points and weed lines. During the summer it’s hard for a big gator to resist a juicy sucker minnow under a float. I like to rig this up with twenty-pound braided fishing line connected to a thirty-pound fluorocarbon leader. I will add some split shots for weight and a size six hook. When summer fishing, remember to keep in mind fish movements and behaviors. Spend some time searching for fish and experimenting with baits until you find the magic.
Spring Boat Storage
Now that spring has arrived, boat preparations are needed to take place to prepare for the season. Once you have got your boat out of storage the first thing I like to do is check over the boat. When checking over the boat this includes going through departments and storage units. I have seen instances where people have found animals hibernating in their boats after a long winter. It’s important to make sure your boat is in top-notch shape before entering the water. Its often to find dust build up inside of your boat along with other debris that may pile up over a course of time. One of the things I like to do once I get my boat out of storage is first to wash the boat down. If you’re like me, you put a lot of wear and tear on your boat. I use my boat just about every day during the summer months.
To be honest, I tend to put an absolute beating on my boat. I have had my boat for about five years now and beat the living hell out of it. I run a tracker 175 TXW boat, this is a great boat for someone that is just starting out in the industry. I am soon looking to upgrade. During the winter months, I bring my boat into a boat dealership up north in Minong Wisconsin where it is then winterized and shrink wrapped for the cold months. Once I pick my boat up early spring I take it down to whitewater where I currently live and start the cleaning process. The sooner the better when it comes to spring boat clean outs, the sooner it’s done, the faster you can get back out on the water. I also like to use this opportunity as a time to organize all of my fishing tackle.
Having organized fishing tackle is a key essential to being successful on the water. Depending on how you store your tools and tackle in the winter. If kept in your boat, they may develop rust over time. Once rust occurs on your equipment it’s almost unsavable. I like to carry a bottle of WD40 on my boat to loosen up rusted parts if need be. Another issue I find often during spring clean out is residue build up on both the seats and carpeting of your boat. Its easy for this to occur over time when the boat is not in use. For this, I like to get a bucket of hot water and soap, soak the affected areas and wash them down with a scrub brush. There are also other products available to use to eliminate this issue as well. Be sure to check out your local boat dealer for more tips and information when it comes to spring boat clean out.
As spring rolls in and the water temperatures start to warm up fish across local lakes and rivers start getting ready for the spring spawn. In Wisconsin, the game fish opener starts up May 4th. Many anglers have been counting down the days to get back out on the water and tangle with some game fish again. This is the time of the year the ice fishing equipment gets put away for the summer and the open water and casting rods come out to play. Spring fishing opener can offer some of the most exciting fishing opportunities of the year. During this season most game fish species are typically up shallow preparing for there annual spring spawn. Game fish such as bass and panfish will make there way into shallow worm gravely water that absorbs sunlight. You can look to find many game fish species this time of year in anywhere from 2-5′ of water.
Fish this time of year will follow the worm heated water and stage there until there spawning duties are over. One of my favorite fish to target this time of year is bass. When bass fishing early spring you can look to find both largemouth and smallmouth bass in similar areas. These fish are typically aggressive and willing biters of most baits. When targeting early season bass I prefer to use finesse style lures. My go-to technique for spring bass is a drop shot rig. This rig has outproduced many lures for me on many occasions. The drop shot is also an extremely versatile lure, you can fish this with most plastics and live bait. When using the drop shot rig I like to use six-pound fluorocarbon. When it comes to the line I prefer to use seaguar invizx to get the job done.
Generally, I will fish this bait extremely slow off the bottom. One of the unique things about fishing this time of year is you get a chance to come out and sight fish. When the water is warmer near the shorelines you can typically see many of fish species up shallow cruising around. It’s almost like fishing in an aquarium. Another effective way to catch bass this time of year is by casting a wacky worm. This is an easy rig to use and catches many fish. The way I like to rig a wacky worm is by using a number four hook to ten-pound fluorocarbon line. I typically fish this rig on a spinning reel, this allows me to get the maximum sensitivity out of my presentation. Be sure to take full advantage of the spring fishing near you, its a blast!
This past weekend I had the opportunity to fish a collegiate level tournament for my school. As I stated in previous blogs I am the vice president of the UWW fishing team. For our 2019 tournament event, we were to fish bull shoals Arkansas at a chance to make nationals. Unfortunately, my partner and I didn’t catch the size of fish we were looking for. We started this seven day trip with a nine-hour drive down south to Arkansas. We had four days of practice before the actual tournament officially started. During practice, my partner and I decided to focus on main lake points in the search for cruising smallmouth bass on wind-blown points. Boy did we find them, I believe we doubled up more than once and caught over twenty fish per day. The bite was fast and furious for us throughout the whole trip.
Day two of practice my partner and I decided to try to find some spawning largemouth bass in the back of creek arms. We spent just about the whole day looking around the lake for shallower warmer water that may hold big female largemouth bass. This lake offers some giant largemouth bass ranging from four to twelve pounds. Depending on where you are fishing on the lake, you are presented with many options to catch fish. When tournament fishing your main goal is to find the “big fish” to win a competitive bass event, you want the heaviest bag of five fish. During our second day of poractie, we decided to move into the shallow creek arms and try a totally different fishing strategy. We decided to go into the heavy brush and cover and flip Texas rigged plastics at buck brush.
We had seen many of largemouth bass nesting up around brush throughout the day but had a difficult time getting them to eat. When bass are on their spawning beds, they can be either extremely aggressive or extremely mellow. We managed to get a few of these spawning bass to eat small plastics and jigs. We just couldn’t seem to find a consistent pattern with the largemouth we felt confident with. We ended up sticking to the smallmouth pattern that had produced many of bites for us. Unfortunately, the smallmouth weights didn’t cut it for us during this event. We finished our first day with eleven pounds of smallmouth bass. The leading weight day one was around twenty pounds of female largemouth bass. Bethal University ended up winning the tournament. Overall we had a great time down in bull shoals Arkansas and will be going back in the future at a chance for redemption.
Bull Shoals Arkansas
The event I had attended happened to be an event I had participated in myself. I have been competitively bass fishing for over ten years now. I currently fish for the UWW bass fishing team here at Whitewater Wisconsin. I am the current vice president of the bass team alongside the president Mitch Vanert. I have been honored to have the opportunity to fish on the UWW bass fishing team through my college years. I was fortunate enough to qualify for nationals during my sophomore year of college. For this specific event I chose to do for my live blog, we fished down in bull shoals Arkansas. This is a three-day event; competitors fish the third day if they qualify the second day of fishing.
Weigh in Process
The way tournament bass fishing works go like this; you have eight hours to fish a given body of water. The fish that are eligible to weigh consist of largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, and spotted bass. Typically fish must be over fourteen inches to weigh in. When tournament bass fishing artificial lures are the only bait of choice no live bait allowed. The heaviest bag of a five-fish limit of bass wins the event. For this specific event, it was a five-fish limit of bass over fifteen inches. My partner and I had caught a lot of fish during practice days of this event. We had found a solid smallmouth bass bite that lasted us most of the event. Unfortunately, the weights of the smallmouth bass weren’t enough to cut it to qualify for this tournament. We had competed against around two hundred schools. For the college series events, there are many different ways you can fish and get involved.
For my live blog, I decided to do a Facebook live to record the action that was taking place for this event. I was able to capture some footage within the last twenty minutes of the event. For my live blog, I was able to explain how the weigh-in process works within competitive bass fishing. I wanted to give a live visual of exactly the process and vision of how competitors walk onto the stage and show off their catch. I was able to do a quick brief from the start explaining what the event was about and where it takes place. I then proceeded to show the college teams walk on stage and record their catch weights for their places. I also incorporated the commentator Hank who announces the final weights once you enter the stage. For the weigh-in process, you have three flights of boats that take off. Depending on the number of boats in each event, flights may vary. For this specific tournament, we were flight three which happened to be the last flight of the day. I also wanted to show the weigh-in station and how much work goes into making one of these events possible. Bethel University had won the event with an 18.5 lb bag of bass the last day.
Jerk Bait 101
One of my absolute favorite ways to catch fish while casting is with a jerk bait. Jerk baits come in many different shapes and sizes ranging from an inch all the way to a foot long. I started using jerk baits about six years ago and fell in love with this lure. Jerk baits can be fished throughout most times of the year and prove to be a consistent fish catcher. This versatile lure allows you to fish it in most situations. My favorite brand when it comes to jerk bait fishing is the Mega Bass Vision 110. This Japanese made lure simply catches fish. I started using this lure about three years ago while fishing a college bass master’s tournament down in Missouri Lake of the Ozarks, taking home a second place trophy with it.
I primarily use this lure when bass fishing, although this lure has proven to be deadly on just about every fish that come across it. I have caught many species including walleye, pike, crappie, and musky on this lure. When fishing jerk bait there are many different ways to work it. The most common way to fish a jerk bait consists of a jerk, jerk pause presentation. This lure can be highly productive during the pre-spawn or cold water conditions when bass tend to be more lethargic. It’s common to here an angler say “it’s a reaction bite today” meanings the fish aren’t necessarily eating the bait out of hunger but rather anger. Another effective way to fish jerk bait is by using a stop and go technique. This system allows you to pick up fish that may be acting a bit more finicky.
Typically when bass get lazy they won’t move much to eat a lure. Jerk bait’s can play a large role here in which the slow tantalizing pauses seem to trigger neutral fish. Jerk baits seem to have an action you can’t compare to any other lure. When fishing a jerk bait I like to use a spinning rod, typically a St. Croix 7′. I will rig this rod with a 2500 size Shimano Sahara reel. When it comes to the line I will run anywhere from eight to ten-pound line, depending on the water I am fishing. It is important to have a rod that can softly absorb the rips when jerking a jerk bait. Today, I will rarely leave the water without grabbing my jerk bait box ahead of time. Be sure to pick up a few jerk baits next time you’re at the store and hold on!
When fishing, understanding how to properly use and navigate your electronics is critical to success. Today there are hundreds of electronic designs to choose from. Knowing how to properly work and mark your graph is just half of the battle. Fishing with electronics has been a way to locate and find fish that may be harder to find. When fishing deeper water electronics can be the key to finding those finicky walleye. When talking about utilizing your electronics it’s important to keep in mind that this is primarily when fishing from a boat. Most boats today come equipped with some sort of graph or depth finder from the start. As you get more serious about fishing and decide to get a boat, upgrading to a quality graph can highly improve your fish catching rates.
Breaking Down Unit
Today I rarely leave the water without my two Humminbird Helix 5’s. These two electronics have helped me locate fish in many different situations both competitive bass fishing and guiding clients. The benefits you are getting while fishing with an electronic fish finder is the following. Not only do fish finders help you locate fish. Fishfinders also allow you to find the depth you are fishing along with the water temperatures. Depending on the particular fish finder you decide to purchase, you can choose from a variety of advantages. When just starting out I would recommend a beginning Humminbird model to adjust to before upgrading to a more expensive product.
My favorite brand when it comes to freshwater fishing is Humminbird. Humminbird electronics have proven to be quality and reliable for me on the water. I have personally been using Humminbird products for about five years now and love them. Today you can get Humminbird systems that are so advanced it would make your head spin. Technology seems to be growing at such a rapid pace in today’s day of age that the fish can’t hide. Another key factor in locating fish with your electronics consists of locating underwater structure. When it comes to fishing deep murky water your electronics can prove to be the most important aspect of catching fish. If your new to the sport of fishing or just looking to catch more fish, I would recommend looking into a new piece of equipment to add to your arsenal.
Most of us have grown up fishing local neighborhood ponds growing up as kids. I remember riding my bike to the closest nearby pond in pursuit of a fish. I have always had a strong passion for the sport of fishing, it’s who I am. There are thousands of fishing opportunities across the country to explore. Pond fishing offers easy access and good fishing. Most ponds across the Midwest offer fishing for bass, catfish, panfish, and carp. Typically ponds are stocked by the state DNR depending on the location. Many ponds are usually man made to control runoff water that builds up in communities during storms. Neighborhood ponds are usually enjoyed by everyone, not just for fishing purposes.
Residents are usually the ones paying for these ponds to be stocked and maintained. Property owners usually have rights to control who is allowed to fish ponds within there community and who isn’t. When entering a pond you have never fished before it’s important to determine if the pond is private property or not. Some landlords take trespassing their property ponds very seriously and may call authority in some situations. Most of the time resident won’t mind you fishing their community pond, but it’s good to be safe. Most ponds you fish across the Midwest range from around ten to fifteen feet of water. These ponds are usually created my man, with artificial structure added to the ponds for fish to hide in.
It’s common to see many ponds with manmade structures such as gravel and rock shorelines and submerged Christmas trees; these can be places to expect to find large concentrations of pond fish stacked up. Fish such as bass, bluegills and crappie use structure like this to feed. Pond fishing offers easy fishing for anyone to enjoy. One of my favorite ways to fish a small pond is simply a light action spinning rod and a wacky worm. I like to rig up a six-foot spinning rod rigged with eight-pound test line to a number four hook and worm. Going back to the basics can be highly effective when targeting pond specimens and these fish are usually willing biters. Always be sure to check your local fishing regulations before fishing a new pond. Pond fishing can be easy and exciting for those that are just looking to have a good time on the water!
I have always enjoyed taking my friends and family fishing let alone people who have never fished before. Fishing has been a way for me to express my passion with others. Since I was a young child I have always enjoyed sharing my knowledge for the sport with others. Once I turned nineteen years old I decided to start my own fishing guide business. From the start, it wasn’t an easy task. I had to get licensed, buy liability insurance and gain approval. From there I was able to start building up my business.
being a fishing guide requires people skills and a true love for the sport. Having the skills to effectively communicate with people is a large factor. As a fishing guide, you are also a teacher. It’s your job to respectfully teach others how to catch fish. I like to take clients fishing and teach them the basics of fishing, including how to break down a body of water to locate fish. To be a fishing guide it’s important to establish the type of fishing you will be doing. You have many options from becoming a saltwater guide to an Alaskan salmon charter. Being a fishing guide its important to narrow your focus to fit the needs of your client.
In my current situation guiding in southern Wisconsin, I am limited to certain species of fish per season. Another major factor is supplying the right amount of equipment for your clients. I like to bring around ten to fifteen fishing rods with me on my guide trips to suit everyone. A good rule of thumb is to keep at least three rods per species of fish you decide to target that day. Always call in advance when setting up a guide trip to confirm location and go over the plan for the day. I like to keep a calendar, marking all of my guide trips for that month to keep organized and on top of the game. It also pays to prepare all of your equipment the day before your guide trip to be on top of the game. Being a fishing guide requires patience and a true passion for fishing. For me it is what I love to do, I am blessed to share my passion on the water for a career.
When fishing a lake there are many factors to take into consideration. Lakes provide the opportunity to fish both shallow and deep water depending on the species of fish you are after. The state of Wisconsin offers thousands of lake fishing opportunities. Lake Michigan, one of our great lakes offers a diverse fishery that many people take advantage of. We are truly blessed with the amazing fisheries we have here in Wisconsin. As a fishing guide and competitive bass angler, I’ve spent countless hours on the water weekly. I primarily fish southern Wisconsin lakes and have seen many situations. It’s also important to realize there are different scientific names to each lake you fish. Generally, before fishing a new lake, I like to have a map of the contour and break down of a lake to help me get a visual beforehand. Electronics also play a critical role when locating fish and finding structure within a lake.
One of my favorite inland lakes to fish here in southern Wisconsin is Lake Geneva. Lake Geneva continues to produce some amazing fishing for multi-species action. I have been fishing Lake Geneva since I was a child and continue to learn to allot about the lake to this day. As one of the deepest lakes in Wisconsin, Lake Geneva offers the chance at catching lake trout and brown trout. This lake reaches depths of around 100-140 feet of water. This lake is full of springs and cold water discharges making for a healthy ecosystem for fish to thrive. Lake Geneva has been known for its smallmouth bass population and thriving northern pike fishery. Wisconsin offers many great fishing opportunities when it comes to fishing an inland lake. By doing a bit of research online you are sure to find a few lakes near you capable of producing solid fish. Breaking down the lake is just half of the fun when it comes to catching fish.
When fishing a lake the first thing I ask myself is; what are the species of fish that I choose to target. From there I can decide the structure that I want to locate to find that particular species of fish. When targeting walleye out of a typical lake system I want to locate sand, rock, and gravel bars. Walleye seem to hold tight to this type of structure in most lakes. Depending on the lake, weeds or rocks can consume the majority of the water making fishing difficult. Some lakes I have fished in the past have been totally choked with weeds during the late summer months, narrowing your focus to weed-less lures. On the other hand, I have fished lakes that are deep, clear, and cold making for a finesse fishing format. Every lake presents a different opportunity and fishing approach. It pays to utilize your electronics and do your homework before entering a lake to be prepared for what to expect on the water.