Archive for July 2016

CATFISH ACTION IN AUGUST   2 comments

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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. That is not the whole story.

If you adapt your program you might catch some nice fish.

In southern Missouri and Illinois, fishing 90-degree water calls for a change of tactic. These southern lakes and ponds contain smallmouth bass, largemouth bass, white bass, walleye, crappie, bluegill and some assorted sunfish.

I recently was introduced to a new pattern for these suspended cats.

Lakes and rivers experience a thermocline effect in the water during the hot summer months. The water below that level lacks adequate oxygen for most species of fish. As a result most fish suspend above the thermocline which is usually at a depth of about 20-feet.

The thermocline is a band of water in which the temperature is 5- to 10-degrees cooler than the water above. Below this band the water is even cooler. The fish will be in the water above the thermocline all summer but tend to hang close to it.

Catfish are usually at about 20-foot depth and with other species above them. They relate to any structure at those depths. For instance humps and sunken islands attract catfish. These fish are active in hot weather contrary to popular belief.

The shad in a lake will be in the top section of the water column driven there by white bass. Seagulls fly over the shad breaking the surface. It is the presence of the birds that alerts fishermen to the presence of potential action. Below the white bass is where the catfish lurk.

All the traditional catfish baits and lures will work in August just as they do the year around. Channel catfish will take almost anything but the blues and flatheads prefer live bait such as a sunfish or shad. It is important to place the bait/lure at the right depth. The slip bobber rig is a good choice to keep the bait off the bottom. In the case of crankbaits one can count down to a desired depth before retrieving the lure. A deep diving crankbait trolled at 2-miles per hour should run at about 18-feet down.

Crankbaits in shad imitation shapes and colors work in clear water. In rivers work the slack water behind structure as well as hollowed out holes in the bottom. There is more current above them and less down 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 adjust according to water clarity. Murky water calls for orange, chartreuse or yellow fire tiger baits. In clear water you can use blue or the more natural colors including brown and black.

 

FISHING TOURNAMENTS AND THE DIGITAL AGE   1 comment

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Recently a computer program has entered the field of competitive fishing. It promises to be great for anglers, tournament officials, their friends and family as well as provide marine information for fisheries officials and increase survival rates of the fish.

Waiting for the results of a fishing tournament can be about as exciting as watching paint dry. Take it from one who has spent thousands of hours doing just that to get story material or in response to a magazine assignment.  Sure it can be fun renewing old acquaintances but sometimes one has to cover several tournaments in a day or has a deadline and editors wanting material right now.

In the traditional tournament the anglers bring their catch of the day to a weigh-in and then they tally the totals to decide the winners. The officials announce the winners.  All this takes a lot of time especially with large entry fields.  Unfortunately often the crowd goes home and some fish die before the end of the festivities.

Mike Christopher of Dallas, TX points out that the main purpose of fishing tournaments comes in 4 aspects. The primary purpose is a protection of the resource both during the tournament and by supplying data to fisheries biologists to aid in management of the fishery.  Secondly is the promotion of fishing ethics while maintaining the third segment safety on the water.  And of course it is promote fun in fishing competition.

Christopher provides technical support in the use of iANGLER. The program is available on either the App Store or Google Apps.

iANGLER consists of two components. The web portal handles all aspects of the management of a tournament.  These consist of things such as promotion, assignment of crew members, scoring, weather and a live leaderboard.  The mobile application which is available to participants and remote viewers handles such aspects of a tournament as registration, logging successful catches, weather updates and the live leaderboard.

During a tournament the participants use the mobile app to photograph their catch and record basic information while still on the water. The image record immediately goes to the web portal.  The tournament director reviews it if there is an internet connection the transmission takes seconds.  If a digital camera is used the transmission is made later via the chip from the camera.

Once a catch record scoring is completed it is posted to the live leaderboard. If a catch is rejected the angler is notified immediately by email.  For those viewing the leaderboard either by cellphone on the water or with a laptop it is possible to hole the cursor on a particular creel and see a thumbnail image of the individual fish.  The tournament audience is able to monitor the angler progress on the leaderboard.

Once the contest is completed it is possible to finalize the results very quickly.

In addition to quickly determining the winners of the event, this system allows the quick release of fish within seconds. This goes a long way in saving fish lives.

Fishery biologists like the system as it opens up data for them to assess fish dynamics and habitat needs. All events fitted into the program have the identifying information of the angler removed before submitting the data to fisheries managers.

Tournament angling has long been involved in the digital age but this system is an advancement of the involvement. For more information about this program for your next tournament check out their website at http://www.ianglertournament.com.

KASI CATCHES CRAPPIES   Leave a comment

Kasi & Crappies

Speaking with Kyle Schoenherr the other day it was surprising to find that a significant number of his clients are novice anglers. Because of his reputation as one of the best crappie anglers in the country one might assume more experienced anglers might be his clients as they search for tips to polish their skills.

On further thought it is probably great that so many novice crappie anglers are entering the sport with an eye to learning it right from the beginning just as my pal Kasi is doing today.

As a rising young executive in business, Kasi McBride does not have a lot of spare time for the outdoor activities she so much enjoys. Most of the time she is involved in boating with friends and an occasional canoe trip down one of Missouri’s picturesque rivers.

Recently she was lamenting a desire to go crappie fishing. Kyle Schoenherr, who is one of the top professional crappie anglers in the country agreed to take the two of us for a short trip out on Kinkaid Lake near Murphysboro, IL.  The trip had to be short because Kasi could not get off work until 4:30 p.m. and the sun goes down about 8:15 p.m. this time of year.  Couple that with the fact that it is an hour drive from her work to the boat ramp.

Kyle operates All Seasons Guide Service (618-314-2967) and had another party booked for earlier in the day. As we start out he laments that the fishing bite was light today.

The heat seems to drive the fish down to cooler water and the bright sunlight has them staying under the milfoil. Kyle points out that the milfoil and other vegetation prevent his electronics from finding fish.  However he has waypoints marked on the electronics for structure such as boulders and tree stumps.

Kyle explains that the crappie like to relate to the stumps and other wood. In summer the weeds protect the fish from the bright sunlight and yet they still relate to the stumps.  In the post spawn period they leave the shallows for deeper water.

Kyle explains that he gets quite a few charters from novice anglers who, like Kasi, want to learn how. He says the main consideration is to keep the approach simple and uncomplicated.  It is important or the client to have fun.  Kasi is having a ball.

Kyle explains the rig for today is a simple slip bobber that suspends a lip hooked minnow a few feet below the weeds in this location. Long BnM poles are used to aid in dipping the rig into holes in the weed cover.

Kasi catches 7 crappie and two bass. But, the two bass are only about 3 inches in length.  I catch a couple of crappie including the largest of the trip.  Kyle out shined us both with an unknown number of fish.  There were just too many to count.

It is a great time to be on the lake. The temperatures are high with no wind but the boat ride from location to location is a pleasant way to spend a summer evening.  We must do this again one day.

IT IS FROG TIME   Leave a comment

Pivot Frog 1

As the water temperature rises it is time to try out a new frog lure from Sebile. It is the Sebile Pivot Frog.

Not much of a frog fisherman, or for that matter a bass fisherman, this is going to present difficulties. As with most plastic lures one tends to wait too long to set the hook or does so too soon.

Most frog lures are for heavy vegetation. But they do work in clear water.  This weighted frog walks true through the water.  Unlike other frog imitations which have two hooks this lure has a single 6/0 wide-gap hook.  The hook point is within the body of the lure.  The body will collapse when a fish takes it.  Otherwise the lure moves through vegetation almost weedless.

As with other such lures you intermittently pause to give it action. Kevin Jarnagin, Blue Heron Communication spokesman, uses the Pivot Frog on 50-pound braided line to fish around grass edges.  By walking the frog easily on a slack line or with short strokes, he dips the frog just below the surface.

With poor depth perception the easiest way for me to fish it is to cast up on the shore and then drag it back so as to plop into the water like a frog jumping off the shore. Using care I make it land inches away from the shore as a natural frog would do.  From a boat one walks the lure back with the rod tip down while pausing occasionally.

The frog design is for fishing heavy vegetation. Boaters can move their craft into the grass and then fan cast along the edge.

For the ground pounder work the lure parallel to the bank about 3-feet out using the same retrieval. Keep to the more shaded areas.  This technique seems best early in the morning and later in the afternoon when the water is at its coolest.

If minnows or other small marine life is present and actively moving about cast the frog to the other side and walk the lure through the activity.

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