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!
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!
Breaking Down a River
When fishing a river system there are many different options to choose from depending on the location you are in. Rivers offer a diverse fishery that many people seem to enjoy. When breaking down a river there are many factors to take into consideration. First, you need to identify the species of fish you are targeting. It’s critical to under\stand the many of depths you will be presented with when river fishing. Most rivers will consist of one main depth throughout most of the river. Although, when fishing a river there are also deeper holes you can fish that will hold large portions of fish (if you find them). When breaking down a river I like to spend time doing online research before entering the water. Most rivers will have a mapping system you can access online for a cheap price.
Typically the river systems I fish here in southern Wisconsin are fairly shallows and small in size. These rivers tend to hold good populations of pinfish and smallmouth bass. You can also look to find channel cats, blue cats and bullhead catfish stacked up in most river systems. Rivers offer a large variety when it comes to fish to catch. Late fall you have the opportunity to catch king salmon out of the Lake Michigan tributaries. Going into early spring you can look to find steelhead and walleye on the move for their spring spawning migrations. This opportunity can present some of the most exciting experiences when fishing a river. When fishing further north in the Hayward Wisconsin area, you then have the opportunity at catching river musky. River musky in my opinion is one of the most challenging yet rewarding fish to pursue. When it comes to river musky, my favorite lures to use are either a small bucktail or a topwater lure. Expect a vicious attack from a river musky when hitting the bait.
It’s important to keep in mind when targeting river fish that you are equipped with the correct tackle. Rivers are full of snags and tangles that can turn a good fishing day into a nightmare fast. I like to rig up a few rods when entering a river, braided line is critical. You want to be prepared with a line that can take the harsh elements of the heavy flowing river. Rivers have some of the largest variety of fish to be caught. Not only do you get the opportunity to catch fish, you get to adventure a large area of water. Be sure to bring extra tackle when fishing a river, you are likely to lose a lure or two. I highly recommend the art of fishing a river system; you never know what you’ll catch. Not only do rivers offer beautiful scenery, but an amazing experience while catching some fish.
When it comes to ice fishing there are many different lures and rigs to choose from. Ice fishing presents opportunities in which a wide variety of lures can be utilized. Depending on the species of fish you after the type of lure you use may vary. Today there are thousands of options when it comes to fishing lures. There are baits from jigs, blade baits, crankbaits, spoons, etc to choose from. A lot of what determines the bait to use depends on what time of year it is. During the cold weather months from late fall to ice up fish become sluggish and unwilling to chase baits due to the colder water temps. Of course, all fish species are different during cold water temps, for example, a trout. Trout are a cold water fish therefor they become more aggressive during the cold water months. Fish like bass and bluegill prefer warmer water temperatures so they will be less likely to hit a fast-moving lure come winter. Some of my favorite lure options for the cold water months consists of the following:
Blade baits offer a quick yet slow-moving presentation to cold water fish depending on how you fish it. With a blade bait, you can catch multipe species of freshwater fish from brown trout to crappies. this diverse bait also allows you the option to fish in deep water. these baits are usually dense and have a fast sink rate to trigger sluggish fish into biting. Blade baits also offer a strong vibration in the water that seems to drive fish crazy especially in cold water. I like to fish this lure on 14LB braid connected to about three foot of 10LB fluorocarbon leader.
Spoons are one of the most utilized baits during the cold water period and continue to catch fish in most cases. Spoons can be highly effective when the water gets cool due to its flash and subtle wiggle. Spoons present an opportunity for cold water fish that is hard to resist. I like to fish a spoon on a medium action rod rigged with 14LB Berkly Nanofill braid connected to a two-way swivel leading to a 10LB leader. This set up allows me to fish the blade bait smoothy while the lighter line keeps my bait deeper and in the strike zone for a longer period of time.
Finesse jigs are potentially the most popular jigs to use during the cold water months. Easy to use and consistent, jigs seem to catch fish in most situations. Jigs can be used from as small as a pencil eraser to as big as a foot depending on what your fishing for. A jig is also an extremely versatile lure and can be used during warm water temps as well for bass, trout etc. When it comes to ice fishing for panfish, jigs must be the most productive lure to use. I like to use 2LB line tied directly to a small tungsten jig tipped with a spike for winter panfish.
Typically around the end of March to April time frame, local lakes here in southern Wisconsin start to thaw out. As water temperatures slowly start to heat up the ice leaves the lakes, fish start there spring spawning patterns. This time of year you can expect to find fish returning to there nearby bays and flats that they have been spawning in for as long as they have been alive. Most fish this time of year are fairly dormant and inactive for the most part. It’s important to remember that fish this time of year require patience and some technique to catch due to cold water temps. Most fish in a small lake will congregate in similar areas to start their spawning rituals. Most fish like to locate shallow warm bays and muddy flats. When it comes to spawning fish you need to make sure it is the season before targeting that specific fish. Panfish are available to catch year round, unlike bass, walleye, pike, and musky. Be sure to check your local fishing regulations to get an accurate confirmation on fish seasons near you. Shortly after the water temperatures have warmed up you can look to find most bass and panfish species shallow. Bass will look for weedy soft bottoms where they can drop their eggs. Fish this time of year can be fickle when it comes to locating the correct spawning grounds. It is also important to consider the predators and competition aspects that fish go through during this period. Bigger fish such as northern pike and musky spawn before the panfish and bass. Northern pike will spawn before a musky, its common for water that contains both musky and pike for the first hatched pike to eat the musky fry. Always keep in mind fish spawning patterns and their usual sping movements in order to catch them this time of year. If you’re not familiar with a new body of water in search for spring fish. Always start by scouting shallow, weedy soft-bottomed bays or marinas to find a variety of panfish and bass. Always remember safe fish handling and selective harvest once the season opens in your neck of the woods.
My name is Louie Dazzo, I am a student at the University of Whitewater Wisconsin. My goal is to share my knowledge of fishing to you guys. I have been fishing hard for over fifteen years. I have been fishing bass tournaments for BASSMASTERS and FLW for over five years now qualifying for nationals twice. I am also a licensed fishing guide in the state of Wisconsin (multi-species fishing). Let’s expand our success for fishing!
Now that we are nearing the end of winter ice fishing may present some new challenges. Fish will start to be moving into there spring patterns in preparation to start the spawn. One of my favorite fish to target at this time is a northern pike. Late season pike fishing can be an opportunity to land your biggest pike of the season. Northern pike will start there transition into back bays and harbors in lakes where they will drop eggs. My favorite way to target these predators late winter is dead baits. I like to use an HT rigger which allows me to fight the fish on light tackle. I can present a rig to the fish that is subtle and dynamic enough to catch fish. I typically locate a shallow, weedy bay that remains to start my search for the Gators.
The rig I prefer to use for these fish consist of 20lb braid connected to a two-way swivel going to a 12lb fluorocarbon leader. This time of year I like to keep my presentations as light as possible. When fishing deep clear water it’s important to understand that downsizing your rig can make a large difference to the fish. Most of the lakes I fish here in southern Wisconsin have clear water. The key to this is simply to outsmart the fish. Northern pike have a reputation for being extremely aggressive fish although can be tough to understand and catch at times. Late season pike can be lazy and not want to chase down prey which makes dead baits so effective. For my bait rig, i will use a size 4 single hook. The single hooks help me stick the fish firmer while also reducuing damage to the fish itself. When it comes to bait I will freeze my left over shiners with salt brine to add scent. Pike rely heavily on there sense of smell to locate food. I will generally set my dead baits a foot off the bottom to directly on the bottom depending on the mood of the fish that day. Always remember fish handling saftery, big pike (36+) are hard to come by and should be treated with respect. I release the majority of my pike especially the larger ones to pass on the genetics fot the next generation.