Archive for the ‘Largemouth Bass’ Tag

FALL FISHING ACTION MOVES TO THE SHORE   Leave a comment

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An excellent adjunct to the fall hunting seasons is fall fishing. Anglers do not have to possess boats and all that goes with them to enjoy some great fishing.

The key factor is finding an area with abundant shoreline access. Scout the area for clues as to promising locations of fish.  Natural vegetation, manmade structures and natural structure are often keys to good fish habitat.

Most bodies of water have forage fish. They can be minnows, shad, shiners or any number of other fish and crustacean.  The big predator fish movement follows the aquatic forage.  In early fall, they tend to move into the shallows and coves to find warmer water.  The predators follow them.  The action seems to move near the bank.

Promising locations include such areas as may be windblown and those areas near the entrance to bays and coves. A good location is one made for an ambush.

Veteran boat less fishermen obtains maps of the areas they plan to fish. On the maps they mark the location of structure, vegetation and depths of water.  They also search out natural situations such as overhanging branches, fallen trees, submerged timber and flooded brush.

Man-made structures also provide fish habitat. This includes marinas, docks, deriving platforms, rip rap, spillways and dams.  One angler of reports he has an old refrigerator marked on his map.  He claims to have taken some big bass off that appliance.

Areas where streams and rivers enter or exit lakes and ponds attract predator fish. They use the adjacent structure for concealment and then move to the faster water to feed.  Eddies in rivers and streams serve a similar purpose.

Before embarking on a fishing trip along one of these shorelines, be sure to have the landowner’s permission. Assure him that you will respect his property, close gates and not break fences.

Also be sure to take all your trash out with you. It helps to carry a plastic garbage bag for this purpose.  Pick up any other litter you might finds along the way.  Leave the land better than you found it, and you will be welcomed back the next time.

As for your tackle, it is important to rig your equipment to match the targeted fish species. Bank anglers should use a rod stiff enough and line heavy enough to control your cast in the shoreline environment.

A variety of jigs, spoons, crankbaits, topwater lures and live bait rigs will cover most situations. A small tackle box is good so you maintain the ability to be mobile.  A selection of lures smaller than 1/4-ounce are a good choice.  Light color jigs are good as they are representative of a number of bait species.

Chest waders are a good choice for bank fishermen. Using waders allow allows the angler more flexibility as to where he can go along the shoreline.  Bank anglers are usually most successful if they can quietly and efficiently cast to key locations for feeding fish.  These areas may not always be available from land.

Patience is an important element in bank fishing. The angler must wait for the fish to come to him.   The good thing about fall fishing is the fish are hungry and ones does not have to wait too long to be in feeding fish.

 

BASS LURES TO USE IN THE FALL   Leave a comment

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Square billed crankbaits and spinners in the natural colors of crawfish and shad produce better results than the plastics the bass angler has been using all summer. Baits with gold and copper hues work well in stained water.  In clear water blue, silver or white lures are better.

If the weather continues to be warm, then Texas-rigged plastic worms should continue to produce. If the water cools try moving to crankbaits.

If the water is clear try a swimbait. This is sight fishing at its finest.

In weed choked bays and coves the use of a frog or weedless spoon is required.

Carolina rigged finesse worms work on occasion worked parallel to the shore over a changing bottom structure.

FALL FISHING LOCATIONS IN SOUTHERN ILLINOIS   Leave a comment

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Lake Glendale in Pope County tops the list for nice peaceful fall fishing locations in southeast Illinois. Pope County is one of the prettiest counties in the state during the fall color changes.  The lake is located in the Shawnee National Forest and is part of the Lake Glendale Recreation Area.  It is located three miles north of the junction of Illinois Routes 145 and 146 and about 25 miles south of Harrisburg via route 145.

The heavily forested area near the lake provides excellent campsites for the fall hunter/fisherman. Because the lake waters come from a heavily forested watershed, it is clean and clear.  This makes it popular with swimmers, boaters and picnickers.  Swimming is limited to the beach area only.

The lake itself is 80-acres with clean clear water and an abundance of vegetation that is home to some nice bluegills and channel catfish. The largemouth bass are present but only about 12 to 14-inches in length and below the 16-inch legal size limit for keepers.  Regular stocking the lake has resulted in a steadily improving fishery.

There is a boat ramp at the northeast side of the lake and a 10 horsepower limit on motors. Anglers can access the lake from a variety of locations along the shore.  Boat rentals are available.

For those wanting to fish additional waters, Sugar Creek Lake is located just west of Lake Glendale near Dixon Springs. The crappies, catfish and bass are good in Sugar Creek Lake.  Shore fishing is good and boating is allowed with electric motors.

Outdoorsmen fishing and camping at these two lakes can easily take advantage of the ample hunting lands of the Shawnee National Forest.  Deer, squirrel, quail and turkey are found there.

For the hunter/anglers who wants a quiet place to camp and participate in hunting or fishing activities these two locations are ideal. They are perfect for a day or several days cast and blast vacation.  For more information contact the Lake Glendale Recreation area at 618-949-3807 or the U.S. Forest Service at 618-658-2111.

LABOR DAY FISHING WITH THE FAMILY   Leave a comment

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The last holiday weekend of summer presents an opportunity to reinforce the fun of fishing in the minds of youngsters. School begins soon and they need fond memories of the summer past.

For children to enjoy fishing, it is important to know the child. Pre-school children are more interested in chasing minnows and casting rocks than they are in spending a day “chunkin’ and winding” a bass rod.  It is important adults recognize the short attention span of young children.  To them fishing is something that you do for a little while until bored.

Adults need to watch for signs of boredom and then switch the activity either temporarily or for the day. It is important youngsters catch fish in order to maintain interest in the activity.  Just sitting and watching a bobber float on the water will get old in a hurry.  That is why bluegill and sunfish are such a great fish for kids.  They are also easy to find in the late summer and early fall.  Youngsters can actually see the fish swimming in the water.  Small sunfish are voracious eaters and will take a piece of night crawler presented by young anglers.  The tug on the line is exciting to the novice angler even if it is not from a giant bass.

Regardless of how many fish the youngster catches it is important to be able to recognize the opportunity of teaching “catch and release.”

Picnic lunches and snacks are good alternatives to fishing for the bored child. Remember that children get hungry more quickly than an adult.  Talk along a cooler with snacks and plenty of liquids.  Be sure that everyone stays hydrated.  Nothing can ruin a future fisherman’s love of the sport than a trip to the hospital for an IV to combat dehydration.

A bat and ball or football to throw around can be a break from the rigors of fishing.

It is important to have and use sun blocker. Fond memories of a trip will be ruined by sunburn.  It is also a good idea to have any child near water wear a personal floatation device.  You cannot watch them every second.  Kids have a way of finding a way of falling into the water when you are not looking.

The ultimate idea is to make fishing a fun time and then youngsters regard it as an experience they will wait with anticipation all winter to repeat.

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.

IT IS FROG TIME   Leave a comment

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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.

ANGLER KNOW THY POND   1 comment

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If there were an eleventh commandment for fishermen perhaps it would be “Know Thy Pond.”

Most of us dream of our own private fishing pond. Some take action to build and stock one.  Ponds are good places to fish and if they are managed correctly can support more fish per acre than is in most other waters.

Ponds are a complex, interlocking chain of plants and animals. Food supplies are dependent upon on plant nutrients dissolved in the water.  These include minerals as well as organic matter.  Nutrients enter the water as dust carried by winds or with water runoff from surrounding areas.  Small aquatic plants consume them and grow.

As the plants grow and multiply they provide food for small fishes and crustaceans. These animals provide food for larger fishes.

In any given pond are found three reasons why the quality of fishing desired might not develop. The fish present may not be the right kind, size or population numbers.

Food availability determines how well both bass and panfish for example will flourish. Management of a bass pond is a delicate balance.  There is a limit to the number of fish a pond can produce and maintain.  The prey species may flourish to the point where they even compete with the predator species for the same food.

 

BASS FISHING IN SMALL PONDS   1 comment

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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.

PUBLIC FISHING IN MISSOURI IS AWESOME   Leave a comment

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Once the boat is in the water, Scott uses the trolling motor to propel us down the shoreline. We go but a few feet and the first bass hits Scott’s lure.  The fish is just under the legal minimum but he gives a battle.  There appears to be two year classes in this lake as all the fish we catch are either just under or just over the minimum.  But we are practicing catch and release so it does not matter.

“In summer you can catch fish on a variety of lures,” says Scott Pauley of the Missouri Division of Tourism. An avid tournament bass angler, Scott explains that you just need to work the lures you have confidence in using under the existing conditions.

Scott explained a storm in the area has muddied up many of the lakes but this particular one appears to be relatively clean. The water is high, flooding much of the shoreline vegetation which might attract fish to it.

As part of his job, Scott prowls the many lakes, rivers and ponds that are open to the public. Recently he demonstrated his prowess by catching over 30 largemouth bass in this small lake in central Missouri. There are hundreds of such lakes across the state.

As water temperatures rise, fish move farther out onto points. The shad forage fish move to the main lake and the bass follow.  Anglers must concentrate on the points if they are to find fish.

In creeks and rivers anglers find fish all year. Some flooding in the spring months raises water levels.  In the summer, water levels drop creating current patterns.  Visualize places where you know current develops.  Look for funnels.  This can be places like a bridge crossing a lake.  A funnel is any place where the water creates a narrowed path.

Another good location to find fish is a long point. They hold on the downstream side of the point.  Fish position themselves facing into the current, waiting for food to sweep to them.  Throw upstream and fish the lure back with the current.

The only real way to find out what fish are doing in summer is to get out there and figure it out. This is especially true of ponds.  Experience and time on the water are the real keys to successful summer fishing.

This lake we are fishing is one of three on a small piece of property owned by the University of Missouri for agricultural experiments. The lakes are small impoundments which provide a water supply for various farming operations.  The one we chose is 15-acres. The University owns the land but the Department of Conservation manages the fishery.

To locate one of these public locations this summer just go to the Missouri Department of Conservation website http://mdc.mo.gov. Once there click on Fishing.  Then click Places to Fish.  From there you scroll down to MDC Resources.  Then click on Missouri Conservation Areas Atlas.  You can then look up a particular lake by name, county or region.  Or you can just give a county or region and get all the lakes in them.  You can also view the area from here via Google Earth.

 

REND LAKE FISHERY IS DOING WELL   Leave a comment

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In recent years a lot of talk has surfaced regarding this southern Illinois fishery. Most of it centers on the crappie population.  With two years of decline in the number of fish over 10-inches in length is the cause is subject to a lot of conjecture.

However, last years surveys by the Illinois Department of natural Resources showed a slight improvement according to Fisheries Manager Mike Hooe. Hooe, probably more than any one person is responsible for the good years enjoyed by Illinois anglers fishing for its famous crappies.   He was the person who introduced the slot limit that led to the increase in the numbers of larger fish.

In a recent report to anglers at the Williamson County Boat Show, Hooe explained that the size of crappies has begun to turn around and is rising. Says Hooe, “another year or so and the numbers of the larger fish should rise back to peak rates.”  Leaving out the fishing pressure factor, Mike still believes the numbers of 10-inch plus fish should continue to increase.  The popularity of this lakes fishery for crappie has place some considerable stress on it.

Moving from crappies to largemouth bass, Mike reports that the number of largemouth bass. Mike reports that the number of fish exceeding the 14-inche minimum length limit fell 26-percent in the most recent survey.  At this time 28-percent of the adult bass exceeds the 14-inche limit.  The number of fish over 20-inches in length is low but stable.

The majority of bass in the 14 to 18-inch class weigh between 1 1/2 pounds and 3 1/2 pounds. With the abundant food supply growth rates should be excellent helping the size structure in the coming year.  Bass fishing this year should be about the same as it was last year.

Rend Lake continues to be a catfish factory. Natural recruitment remains strong and thus there is no need to do supplemental stocking of the lake.  Channel catfish in the 1 to 3-pound range should be abundant this year, according to Hooe.  He also is finding fish up to 6-pounds common.

Word is good on the white bass scene. Reproduction has been good in 2011, 2012, and 2013 and in the fall of 2015.  This has resulted in a significant rise in the population to its highest level in 7 years.  Mike explains white bass do well in years with flooding.  The spawn is critical and the flooding provides great spawning conditions.  Here on Rend the numbers are up with most fish being in the 12 to 15-inche length and weighing 1/2 to 1 1/2 pounds.

Another game fish found in Rend Lake is the bluegill, Illinois state fish. After two years of declining populations the overall size of the fish will be in the 6 1/2 to 8-inche length and they should be abundant.  The number of fish over 8-inches is about the same as in prior years.  Some bluegills will reach a weight of 1/2 pounds.  The fishery as a whole is showing above average growth rates with excellent body condition.

Finally there are the hybrid bass. The population has been down for several years. It was almost down to zero. In the past 4 or 5 years the state has been stocking 4 to 5-inch small shad from Newton Lake as they become available.

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