Archive for May 2012

A SYSTEM FOR POND BASS   3 comments

All too often it seems that the only way bass have ever been caught is to “run and gun” on some impoundment lake. It is not necessarily the case. Early bass anglers used cane poles and caught bass in small lakes and ponds. Their techniques are as good today as they were before bass boats.

The first thing to remember is that small waters do not always have small fish. Many a monster bass has come from an out of the way pond. A carefully combed couple of acres can be just as productive as running around on a large impoundment.

Early in the year, after a week of stable weather, a dam will warm quickly and the bass will become active. Usually the northern end of a pond warms first as does any area that is more shallow.

Bass are notorious for relating to structure and cover. It is important to take note of any wood, brush or weeds that is visible.

Choose tackle that you would use in fishing any other bass water. A stout rod and line in the 15 to 20 pound test range is good. Even in the best locations, there may be submerged stumps, timber and other debris. You do not have the luxury of being able to move to where the lure is stuck to remove it. Accept the fact that you are going to loose some lures.

Some tricks of the trade for shore fishing are: 1) Avoid casting to spots from which you know it may be impossible to retrieve a lure. 2) Learn to slow down the retrieve and hop a surface lure back over submerged logs. 3) Learn to reel back to the edge of weeds or debris certain to catch a lure, then reach the rod high and give the lure an inshore flip through the air.

The choice lure is one in which you have confidence. It can be a topwater plug or a spinnerbait with its single upturned hook that is hidden with a skirt. Anything that is virtually weedless is a good idea. Floater/diver lures are useful if there is a chance to dodge them around submerged objects. Cast to openings and, if you suspect there are submerged objects between you and the lure, ease off letting the lure rise to the surface. The lure can be crawled past the obstacle and the retrieve resumed.

As you approach the water, remember that it is not necessary to begin with a cast to the center. The more shallow portions of the dam waters are more likely to hold aggressive bass. In addition, the bass dragged from deep water may spook fish that have been holding in the more shallow areas. It is important to keep moving along the shore until you have determined where the majority of bass are located.

Usually, the water will have a small lip or flat that rims the entire body of water. It usually comes out from the bank and then drops off toward the middle. This is a good are on which to concentrate as it usually holds the cover and bass.

It is a good idea to begin by casting parallel to the shoreline. This insures the lure is in that lip area for the maximum time. In addition, if a fish is hooked, this will assure that it will not spook any fish holding in deeper water. After of couple of casts, work at an angle to the bank in an attempt to cover the outer edge of the lip.

Finally, cast to the middle of the pond. Once this pattern is completed, then one can move down the shoreline a few feet and repeat it. The procedure is repeated until the entire body of water is covered.

Once a fish or two has been taken, observe what type of cast worked best and then concentrate on making casts in that area.

Bass fishing in ponds is great fun. However, it is important to remember the resource. The bass populations in such bodies of water can be very fragile. It does not take long to change bass populations by keeping many fish. Catch and release are very important in such small bodies of water.

Posted 05/30/2012 by Donald Gasaway in Freshwater Fishing

SAVING CRANKBAITS   1 comment

One of the most frustrating aspects of crankbait fishing is losing them. Crankbaits are one of the more expensive terminal tackle components. Production costs force the prices a little higher each year. They are effective lures and valued by the angler. Here are five ways to cut down on the number of crankbaits you lose each season.

 

NUMBER ONE is a common method used by river anglers who lose of a lot of tackle on submerged trees, rocks and other objects.  Simply remove the forward treble hook on a crankbait.

Most crankbaits tend to run with the forward end slightly lower than the back. With the treble hook removed, the body of the lure will bounce off submerged objects taking with it the rear hook.

NUMBER TWO is when you are hung up. The most obvious way to get unstuck is to pull the bait lose from whatever has snagged it. Failing that, pop the line.

Hold the rod in one hand. With the other, pull some slack in the line between the reel and the first rod guide. Allow the line to pop tight. The jarring of the line sometimes will move the lure backward freeing it from the submerged object. Repeat several times until the lure works loose.

NUMBER THREE AND FOUR involve the use of products on the market under several trade names. The first is an extendable rod that has a spiral coil at the end. The tool extends to about 8 feet. The spiral portion captures the line and then slides down it to the lure. It captures the lure and breaks it loose.

The next is a heavy weight on the end of a strong line. Fasten it to the fishing line and allow the weight to slide down the captured lure. The then pull the strong rope back to you as it pulls the lure and fishing line free.

NUMBER FIVE is the Ultimate LureSaver Titanium R/S System. It is a big name for a very small product. The system allows you to pull lures free instantly without having to move the boat or move along the shore to another location. It allows retrieval without disturbing the fish.

The device is made of Titanium and replaces the split rings that hold the hooks. When the lure hangs up, the angler simply wraps the line around his hand and pulls steadily. The LureSaver opens, releasing the hook from the lure. It then closes again and you get everything back except the hook. Back at the boat, just replace the hook and your back in business.

Because the LureSaver is made of Titanium, it has a lot of memory and always returns to its original shape. The quick replacement of hooks allows for more time spent fishing instead of repairing tackle or messing with trying to get the lure up from the entanglement. It does not have any effect on the action of the lure.

A neat thing about this product is that it allows you to fish structure, rocky bottoms, brush piles and weeds without the fear of losing valuable crankbaits. It also cuts down on the amount of line and lure trash that is left in the water.

This product should be available in most tackle stores and bait shops. If you need help in finding it, contact the company at their website of www.ultimateluresaver.com.

FLY FISHING MADE EASY   Leave a comment

Fly fishing is often thought of as a sophisticated sport that requires a complicated combination of tackle. Major tackle manufacturers and retailers have taken much of the mystery out of the selection.

With some basic education, the novice fly angler can enjoy a great summer in the rivers and lakes. Many contain trout or have our usual game fish that will also take a fly if properly presented. Bass and sunfish are particularly active when it comes to taking a fly.

Most rods are made of either graphite or fiberglass. Some are of bamboo construction but they are well out of the price range of the beginning anger. The graphite rods are lighter than fiberglass. They allow for a decrease in the wall and diameter size. To increase sensitivity the fibers are wrapped on a bias. Lighter rods allow us to use them longer with less arm fatigue.

Fiberglass rods are heavier with less sensitivity.

Fly rods come in lengths of six to 12 feet. The recommended lengths are eight and one half to 9 feet. Shorter lengths are for special situations. In areas with open coves and a low overhead tree canopy a shorter rods works better.

The industry rates rods by weights. For trout and panfish, a weight of four, five, or six is right. For bigger fish like bass a seven, eight, or nine weight rod will do well. Most fly anglers like the eight weight rod for bass and a five for trout. A compromise of a six-weight rod works well for both species.

The selection of a fly line is where the confusion seems to greet most of us. Line on a fly-fishing reel is composed of four sections. Working out from the spool, the first part is the backing.
Backing attaches the fly line to the reel and allows the fly line to form larger coils. That reduces line memory and aids in winding the line more quickly when the fish is hooked. It also allows the fish to make longer runs.

The fly line itself is what is cast in fly-fishing instead of the lure as in other fishing. Fly lines are rated to match the fly rod. The rating is printed on the spool and package.

The leader is a length of tapered monofilament that attaches the fly to the line. The thick part, the butt, is closest to the reel. Next is the taper and finally the tippet. The tippet is the thinnest part of the fly line and attaches to the fly.

The fly has no appreciable weight. The lines movement propels it. The rod is drawn back, called loading, and then cast forward, called unloading. The forward movement is “shooting the line.”

With a little basic instruction, we can learn to be fly angler. Instruction can come from an instructor or from a video. There are a number of good ones on the market. DVD’s are particularly helpful because it is possible to move to a particular section that you want to concentrate upon with ease.

There are a number of ready-to-fish combos on the market now and available from mail order companies like Cablea’s and Bass Pro Shops. Some other sporting goods stores also carry them. The Concept line from 3M Scientific Anglers offers rod and reel, with the line already spooled with backing and tapered leader. Some packages include an instructional video and booklets. An expert already completes all the tackle selection.

Those who have never tried fly-fishing owe it to themselves to add this equipment to their arsenal of fishing tackle. It is another element in angling and a very relaxing way to spend a day at the river, lake or pond near home.

BOWFROGIN TROPHY FROGS   Leave a comment

The “belly deep” call of the male bull frog is a definite sign that the hunting trip has not in vain.  The Jug‑o‑rum call of the male frog betrays his presence.  The archer draws and releases the arrow in one fluid motion.  The arrow rockets out of the bow.  The attached line resembles a plume of smoke. 

Buried deep in the mud, the arrow, when retrieved contains no sign of the frog.  From the shoreline a few yards away, another frog calls out as if to say, “You missed him didn’t you?” 

Bull frogs do not gather in groups, but rather scatter around a body of water in individual patches of turf.  They are aggressive defenders of territory.  Their call, mainly for purpose of mating and laying eggs, are achieved by use of a throat pouch that works as a resonating chamber. 

Archers are fond of bowfishing for bull frogs on hot summer evenings.  The reward is fun in the water on hot days and a fine meal of frog legs to be had at the end of a hard days work.  Besides it is fun to mess in the mud a little. 

Standard bowfishing gear composed of bow, arrow, line, reel, waders, and old clothes will get one started in this sport.  The line, arrow and reel can be purchased as a package at any sporting goods store.  Instructions on how to use them are contained in the package. 

Being a cold blooded animal, the frog is usually not at his most wary early in the morning and late in the evening.  These are the cooler hours of the day, more comfortable to the archer, but less so to the frog. 

Since frogs live in the swampy portions of a wetlands area, it is usually necessary for the archer to wade in to get within range.  Normally waders are used, but during real hot days, some people just use old clothes and sneakers.  Old clothes are used as swamp water does not wash out of fabrics very well. 

Some archers find that a given frog hunting area has played out.  They give up and never go back to that area.  That is a mistake.  Frogs travel.  An area without frogs one time will be teaming with them on another try. 

The larger frogs tend to like the most inaccessible areas.  They migrate to those areas where they can find food and not be disturbed.  The two basic needs of the bull frog are food and water.

Frogs eat almost anything that will fit in their mouth.  Such things as:  baby birds, small snakes, hickory nuts, fish and other small frogs, have been found in the stomach of a bull frog. 

Frogs are not very approachable from land.  For some reason they tend to attribute danger to anything coming at them from land.  The best way to approach them is from the water, either wadding or in a boat.  The use of a canoe or one of the two‑man bass boats is very effective.  Jon boats work in some areas but not in really shallow water. 

Laws and bag limits vary from one area to another.  It is a good idea to check local restrictions before taking to the swamp to go bowfroging.  In most areas, a fishing license is required.  Bowfroging is great fun and a good way to send the day or evening.  It also is a good warm up to the bow seasons of the fall.  Youngsters, or a spouse, will often enjoy an introduction to the sport of bowhunting through bowfroging.

 

FREE FISHING DAYS KIDS FISHING DERBY IN S. ILLINOIS   1 comment

Giggles, laughs, squeals of delight and even a few tears will fill the air on June 9, 2012.  The annual Free Fishing Days Derby is an event for the whole family.  The kids do the fishing but the grown-ups also enjoy the experience at Crab Orchard Lake in Williamson County. 

Free Fishing Days in Illinois are from June 8, 2012 to June 10, 2012.  This does not mean that you can trespass anywhere you please.  It means that anglers can fish without a license during those days.  All other fish and game laws, such as creel and length limits, continue to apply.  Some of Illinois state parks will have special events during the weekend and many will waive the entrance fee.  The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (1-618-997-3344) will celebrate the day on June 9, 2012 in the morning at the Crab Orchard National Wildlife Refuge west of Marion, Illinois on State Route 13. 

Fishing tackle, whether it is a rod and reel or terminal tackle, should be geared to the size and age of the angler.  Event sponsors will provide free use of tackle as well as supply the bait for this event. 

The only expense to the family in attendance is the cost of gasoline to get to the site of the old marina on Route 13 that is now Prairie Creek Recreation Area. 

Worms are the most popular bait among the young set.  They catch almost any kind of fish.  Worms are not difficult to put on a hook.  Adult assistance for fishing techniques and in baiting a hook will be available if required. 

The first 200 children to register at the site will receive a free T-shirt and a package of goodies.  Other prizes are for the biggest fish, smallest fish and most fish in each of the age categories.  Fishing will begin at 8:00 A.M. and continue until noon when the participants get a free hot dog lunch and prizes awarded. 

Some items to bring along on are common in all trips to the outdoors with the family.  They should include some sunscreen, a hat, sunglasses, lawn chairs or a blanket and perhaps some snacks.  Lunch will be provided at noon during the awards ceremony.  A plastic bag with some veggies can be a welcome cure for the munchies.  There is something about adventure in the outdoors that stimulates the appetite.

The idea is to have the total experience be a positive one.  Then the young ones will want to come back again and might even be willing to bring you with them. 

For more information about this event, contact the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service Visitor Center at Crab Orchard National Wildlife Refuge.  The telephone number is 618-997-3344.  The center is located at 8588 Route 148, Marion, Illinois 62959. 

Free information regarding motel accommodations and points of interest is available from Williamson County Tourism Bureau, 1602 Sioux Drive, Marion, Illinois 62959 or by calling 1-800-GEESE-99.  Information is also available online at visitsi.com, the Williamson County Tourism Bureau website.  Their e-mail address is info@visitsi.com.

GROUND POUNDING ON LAKE BARKLEY   Leave a comment

Like its sister lake, Kentucky Lake, Lake Barkley is well known for panfish action in the form of bluegills and crappie. However, while fishing there we discover its other panfish, the whiskered wonder. 

Catfish are probably the ultimate “pan fish”. They are the most popular eating fish across the country, enjoyed by millions of Americans. 

Damming of the Cumberland River formed Lake Barkley. The 40-mile long lake runs parallel to Kentucky Lake a few miles to the west. The lake itself is about 80,000 acres with little development along the shoreline. Much of the shoreline is the property of the TVA or the State of Kentucky. The water level generally reaches a maximum in late spring and early summer. It declines until late fall and then levels off for the winter months. 

Fishing with a local favorite, a jigging pole some nice catfish are caught everyday. Jigging poles are a 12 foot, very light rod, with an ultra light open-face spinning reel.  Some people actually use a converted fly rod. Without actually fishing for catfish, you can catch them with the light jigs and plastic grubs in dark colors. Baits that are more traditional are best.  Baits such as minnows, cut shad and nightcrawlers work well for catfish. 

The ultra light gear works well and provides excellent action that is both challenging and productive. Unlike the usual summer pattern of fishing early a.m. and late p.m., fall fishing requires action during the midday. The fish seem to be more active during the late morning and early afternoon warm up. Live green weeds near deep water are a good location to find fish. The green weeds provide oxygen in turn attracting baitfish. The catfish are attracted to the baitfish. 

Catfish action is usually good throughout the lake. In fall, more fish seem to be closer to shore. In most of the lake, catching catfish is more of an underwater structure game. Locals look to the downstream points of islands, creek intersections and the main channel ledge. Along the main channel, one can try vertical jigging with a slip bobber in about 15 feet of water.  Use such tasty items as chicken livers, cut bait and stink baits. With the current of the lake, scent given off by stink baits covers a large area attracting catfish from a long distance. 

The catfish taken from this lake are very clean and make excellent meals for the table.

BASICS OF FISHING FOR CHANNEL CATFISH   2 comments

Catfish season is upon us.  Fishing for Channel Catfish is the most basic of angling pursuit available to anglers.  It is as simple as a hooked worm on a line attached to a stick, or as sophisticated as spinning gear a space-age composite rod and crankbaits.  It is the choice of those who spend a lot of money and those that do not.  The one thing both have in common is that they must find the fish. 

Everything about catfish patterns relate to their search for food.  They eat almost everything in their environment.  By using slack water ambush points they conserve energy until some food comes their way.  They relate to brush, cutback banks, and rip rap for their eating and spawning activity. 

Anglers often fish for channel catfish using natural baits like: cut shad, cut herring, night crawlers, minnows, shrimp, chicken liver and turkey liver.  In other times of the year, prepared baits (stink or dip baits) are popular. 

This time of the year catfish feed actively and attack anything that invades their territory as they spawn and guard the nest and young of the year. 

Look for structure. During the day fish seek deep water away from shore.  As the water cools they move to the flats and shallow water structure. 

In areas that were once part of the main channel probe structure that is closest to the current.  In backwater areas look for the current to boil.  Anchor upstream of the boil and cast to it.  The fish are tight up against the structure. 

On rivers with wing dams look to the outside of an eddy at the end of a wing dam.  Fish like the wing dams because there is less current for them to fight.  Dams that have been silted in are less productive due to the catfish’s love of clean hard bottoms.  A damaged wing dam can create two current breaks, one at the end and one where the break has occurred. 

In lakes or reservoirs fish tend prefer the old main channel as it brings food to them.  Look for structure in current areas.  By looking at the shoreline one can often find old roadways that lead right down into the water.  In the water, the rocks and blacktop of the old roadway provide structure.  Additionally roadbeds lead to old farmsteads.  They provide old building foundations and more structure. 

Electronic fish locators are good for finding structure.  Catfish like clean bottom and structure like rock and hard surfaces.  In looking at wood structure remember catfish want current. Look for wood usually in the form of trees.  The bigger the tree the more fish will hold near it.  Smaller fish feed on the outside of the tree.  Larger fish will be down in the lower branches. 

Big cats are in deep brush or an exposed root system at the base of large trees.  Just move up into the brush and jig the bait down to them.  Go after them and yank ‘em out.  It is important to position yourself so you can get the fish out of the brush without getting hung up.

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