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.