DIFFERENT TACTICS NEEDED FOR AUGUST FISHING   Leave a comment

SUMMER CATFISH MAY REQUIRE A CHANGE OF TACTIC

Summer sunshine in August is often a sure sign that the fish will not bite during the day. Most anglers switch to night fishing or at least early morning and late evening. But, that is not the whole story.

Guides like Walter Krause (www.Waltersguideservice.com) have clients who want to fish and he needs to find fish for them to catch. In response to the extreme heat southern Illinois experienced last year, Walter decided to experiment with his fishing patterns. The result was a change of program for his clients and some nice fish caught.

At the time of his experiment, Walter was fishing 90-degree water in a variety of lakes. In particular he focused on Kinkaid Lake near Murphysboro, Illinois. This 3,750-acre impoundment is probably best known as a muskie fishery. It also contains smallmouth bass, largemouth bass, white bass, walleye, crappie, bluegill and some assorted other fish. Walter was focusing his attention on the channel and blue catfish.

Kinkaid, as do other southern Illinois lakes, experiences a thermocline effect in the water during the hot summer months. Here the thermocline is at about 20 foot depth. The water below that level lacks adequate oxygen for most species of fish. As a result most of the fish are suspended above the 20 foot depth.

The thermocline is a band of water in which the temperature is 5 to 10 degrees cooler than the water the water above. Below this band the water is even cooler but there is insufficient oxygen. The fish will be in the water above the thermocline all summer.

Using a barometer and his fish locators on his boat, Walt studied where the fish suspended during the hot days. He found that the catfish species were usually found at about 20 foot depth and other species above them. He also found that they would relate o any structure that might be found at those depths. For instance, the humps he found at 18 foot attracted catfish. He also found that these fish were active in hot weather contrary to popular belief that they might be inactive in response to the lack of oxygen in the water.

By using the barometer he found that as the barometric pressure fluctuates during the day the fish responded accordingly. The pressure change was more prominent during morning and evening. Regardless of whether the change was up or down, it caused the fish to bite. He has found that fish in a river are less susceptible to barometric pressure.

Walt marked the location of any islands under the water with way points on his GPS. On nearby Carlyle Lake he found sunken islands as shallow as 6 to 8 feet yet the fish suspended near them just the same as the deeper locations in Kinkaid Lake.

The shad in a lake will be in the top section of the water. They are often driven there by white bass. The result is that seagulls will be flying over the shad as they break the surface. It is their presence that alerts fishermen to the presence of potential action. Below the white bass is where the catfish lurk.

Other advice from Walter includes the use of crankbaits in shad imitation shapes and colors to be used in clear water. In rivers he suggests working slack water behind structure as well as hollowed out holes in the bottom. He finds that there is more current above them and less deep in the hole. In river situations, you probably will have to travel more to find schools of fish.

As for color in the use of crankbaits, he adjusts according to water clarity. Murky water calls for orange, chartreuse or yellow fire tiger baits. In clear water he likes blue to the more natural colors of brown and black.

Although this is primarily a catfish pattern, Walt has found it often works for other species as well.

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