Posts Tagged baitfish

River Walleye – Vertical Jigging

Here is a great little clip that goes into detail about how the baitfish move in river current and why vertical jigging mimics that movement. The clip also goes into details about the tackle and equipment that will help you be successful. Vertical jigging can be a great way to get some nice walleye in out local river systems.

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April Bass Fishing in Western PA

After a long cold winter we are all anxious to get back out on the water. Here in Western PA it can take a while for the water to warm up though. After the ice is off it usually takes 6 weeks or so until the water comes up to a temperature that is more suitable for bass catching. It’s now the last week of April and the action is heating up on our local lakes. We are fast approaching the best time of the year to be on the water. With water temps approaching 60 degrees or more the bass are preparing to spawn. Pre-spawn bass will group up on staging areas close to where they plan to spawn. These staging areas may be deeper or shallow area but are near deeper water where they can pull back to when the water de-stabilizes. Staging area to focus on include creek channels, roadbeds, and drop off’s. Finding these areas and then determining the cover they are holding on is key (stumps, logs, brush, weeds, etc). I’ve caught a few decent bass so far this year while practicing for local tournaments… but no real giants yet. This fact should change in the coming weeks with the predictability level of big bass movements for the spawn. My suggestion for May is “get out and fish”! No matter what body of water you are on or what species you fish for, May has something for everyone and is the best time of year to hook into a true trophy freshwater gamefish.

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Saturday at Lake Wilhelm

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My buddy and I took our first trip of the year to Lake Wilhelm on Saturday.  The fishing was slow for most of the day, but by evening it started to picked up.  It was difficult to find a pattern to fish.  Some came out of laydowns, flipping jigs and Texas rigged creatures. We found that green pumpkin was the best color.  Others came off  deeper water structure, e.g. brush piles, road beds and creek channels, working jigs or c-rigs.  Yet others came working a hartreuse and white buzzbait over shallow weeds.  We also had a few that came throwing a senko in the bushes.  We didn’t get anything that was really big, but we were able to get a good number of two to three pounders.

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Picking the Right Spinnerbait

Variety of Spinnerbaits

Variety of Spinnerbaits

Sometimes the most basic lures really aren’t so basic.  We often feel that when we buy a lure we can take it out of the package and go to a body of water and catch fish on it.  You may be able to catch fish on spinnerbaits straight from the package, but there are many modifications that will allow the lure to work under any conditions.  With so many options it is hard to narrow down which lures to take to the water.  Today we are going to talk about how to narrow down the selection process and eliminate taking a heavy  box of too many lures.  In the following we will talk about different techniques, skirt colors and sizes, blade shape, color, and size, and some lure tuning tips.

 

It is hard to find a place to start when deciding to talk about spinnerbaits.  Let’s start with one of the two most important parts to the spinnerbait.  The most interchangeable part to a spinnerbait is its blades.  There are many shapes, sizes, colors and textures in which we can choose from.  Some of the common blades styles that we can find regularly are the Willow Leaf, Indiana, and Colorado blades.  

Willow Leaf, Colorado, & Indiana Blades

Willow Leaf, Colorado, & Indiana Blades

These different blades should all be utilized for what they types of fishing conditions they best fit.  The willow leaf blade is great for clear what fast retrieves.  Because of the long slender shape of the blade it disperses very little what, but still puts off a great deal of flash which allows you to cover water faster.  The Colorado blade is a round blade that is good when the water is stained or muddy.  Because the Colorado blade is round it displaces more water and causes a greater vibration.  Due to the low visibility of the water vibration because very important because the fish are no longer seeing what they are attacking.  The Indiana blade is basically a hybrid between the Colorado and willow leaf blades.  Indiana blades are elongated round blades which disperse a good amount of what, but can still be used to cover a lot of water.  This blade is great for waking near the surface for aggressive bass, pike, and muskie.  All of these blades come in common sizes of size one through size six.  The bigger the number means that the blade gets bigger.  This doesn’t mean that there aren’t half sizes or larger sizes.  These are simply the most common stock blades which come on prepackaged lures.  Spinnerbait blades come in many colors as well.  The two most common colors are silver and gold.  However, there are painted blades for special conditions.  For example, I like to use white blades when I fish the river for smallmouth bass.  I just think it gives me an edge on everyone else that is throwing a spinnerbait because not everyone is changing out blades.

 

Next, we should talk about the second most important part of the spinnerbait, which is the skirt.  Stock skirts on spinnerbait may be limited in color because company can only afford to mass produce so many colors.  Remember that you can always buy pre-made skirts from many companies that you can replace the stock skirt with a new skirt. skirts1You can also build your own skirts by buying precut lengths of skirt material or bulk material.  There are two main options when making skirts, which are rubber and silicon.  I have no preference between the two because I feel that both have their advantage at certain times.  Skirts shouldn’t be picked just because you have a hunch.  You have to do a little research about the baitfish and natural forage of the body of water that you are fishing.  For example, if the primary baitfish is gizzard shad then you should pick a white color and not a fire tiger color.  Since you are matching the color of the baitfish, be sure to cut the skirting to match the size or your baitfish.  If the shad are four or five inches long then a bigger skirts is necessary, but if they are two to three inch baitfish then it is necessary to cut the skirt down.  By matching the skirt color and size to the baitfish you will up your catch rate.  

Now let us talk about the different techniques that you can use to make spinnerbaits work for you.  Every angler starting out thinks that all you have to do is cast it out and reel it in.  Even though you can fish a spinnerbait that way it will be a lot more successful if you make the lure do certain things. 

The first technique is called slow rolling.  Slow rolling is basically casting out and reeling in at a very slow pace.  This technique can be used in the shallow weeds during the pre spawn or it can be use on ledges, creek channels, and brush piles to gain strikes during the post spawn and summer months.  Since slow rolling is done mostly in deep water, when fishing a Western Pennsylvanian lake you should be using a ½ to ¾ oz. lure to keep the lure in contact with the bottom or structure.  Making contact is crucial to catching fish because that is what is going to trigger your strikes.

Burning is another technique that can be very effective.  This technique is when you are reeling the lure in so fast that it never drops one foot below the surface.  The water conditions have to be right in order for this technique to work though.  First the water has to be very clear so fish will come from a distance to strike.  It also helps it the sun is shinny, but that isn’t a must.  Burning is very effective when fishing for clear water smallmouth bass and hybrid striper.  I have been told that muskie and pike can be taken on this technique as well.  When you are burning your bait try doing a short pause letting the lure fall slightly and then start burning again.  That will trigger a great deal of strikes when fish are following the lure.

Yo-Yoing is the last technique that I am going to talk about.  This technique can be used any time of year, in any water condition, and at just about any depth.  When using this technique you want to make long casts and let the lure sink to the bottom before you start putting the lure in motion.  Once the lure hits bottom reel the slack line and place your rod at the nine o’clock position.  Then raise your rod to the twelve o’clock position and let the lure fall back to the bottom.  Continue this retrieve until the lure is back at the boat.  You will have to let the fish determine how fast you are able to work the lure.  Sometimes you will be able to use a ¾ oz. spinnerbait and work it extremely fast and other times you might want a 3/8 oz. spinnerbait and slow way down.  I personally prefer the slower approach when fishing in weed beds. 

When fishing a spinnerbait you will have to make some minor adjustments or tune your bait as you fish with it.  The first thing you want to check is that the wire of the bait lines up with your hook and remains straight the length of the wire.  If it isn’t simple bend it back into shape with you hands or needle nose pliers.  Also, you can cut the wire length down to make the lure seem smaller and faster.  This will help if you are getting short strikes because the blades are going to be closer to the hook.  You can also squeeze the wire together placing a smaller gap between the hook and the blades doing the same thing.  On the other hand you can spread them apart to make the lure slower and larger.  Maybe the greatest improvement you can add to your spinnerbait is a trailer hook.  This will just about eliminate short strikes and make them hook ups.  You can add a soft plastic trailer to you lure to give more action and a bigger target for the fish to eat.  Remember to play with you blade and skirt sizes as well to match the baitfish. 

When you are getting ready to head to the lake this year with your box of spinnerbaits remember a few simple things.  Most importantly you need to match the size and color of the local baitfish.  Also, you don’t need to take a bunch of spinnerbaits, but you need a couple in each size so that you can change blade sizes and skirts size and color as you fish.  Try multiple techniques, pauses, jerks and speeds until you find the correct retrieve for the conditions and day.  Good luck to all and remember to have fun.

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Spinnerbait Skirts

Spinnerbait skirts come in multiple shapes, sizes, and colors.  The reason for all of these options is to match the attributes of the baitfish.  The size of the baitfish in the lake or river system will determine the correct size of the skirt for your lure.  If your lure is too large take a pair of regular sissors and cut the skirt in a rounding motion around the hook.  This will add the appearance of a baitfish body and shrink the skirt to the correct size.

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Fishing for Lake Arthur Hybrid Striper

Hybrid Striper

Hybrid Striper

For years my friends and family have chased the elusive hybrid striper around Lake Arthur.  The attraction to striper fishing begins with their slamming hits and powerful fast fight.  Most anglers agree that these fish are one of the hardest fighting fish that swim in freshwater.  In the following I will discuss some techniques, lures, and possible locations to get you started in chasing these beautiful creatures. 

Let’s start with some general information about hybrid stripers.  First, hybrid stripers are unable to naturally reproduce.  That is the reason that the creel limits set by the PA Fish Commission is 2 fish at 20″.  They are a good tasting fish and you only will need 1 or 2 to make a meal for a family.  I recommend keeping hybrid stripers to eat in the spring when the water is colder,  the fish is less fatty, and has a better taste.

Next, let’s talk about weather conditions and locations on the lake.  The best weather conditions and locations to fish on the lake depend on the time of year.  In the spring, I look for days with a slight wind and lots of sun.  During this time I am looking for active baitfish.  Since the sun makes the baitfish get active and spawn these conditions are ideal for catching hybrid striper.  Watch for vicious surface action in the schools of baitfish and move in slowly, being careful not to spook the bait and striper.  During the summer, the cooler overcast days tend to be the best.  However, if you are able to fish during the night then you should consider fishing those hot humid nights.  These fish are cold water creatures and with feed when the surface temperature cools down.  During the fall, I fish much like I do in the spring.  Looking for those days with the sun and slight wind.  No matter what time of year I am fishing for Lake Arthur hybrid striper I fish the same types of areas.  For me, there is no where better than fishing a roadbed.  I would say that I catch about 75% of my stripers on the roadbeds.  You will find sweet spots that they always seem to hold or come up to feed on them.  Other areas to try are hard bottom rocky shorelines, wind blown points, the creek channel, both bridges, and the areas by the islands.  If you can combine any of those areas into one spot then more than likely you will find the targeted striper.

Now let’s talk about the different techniques that can be used to catch hybrid stripers.  I try to basically break down striper fishing into 2 categories.  First, you can troll for them.  This may be the most productive and more consistent of the 2 styles.  The time of year will determine how deep you want to troll.  Sometimes you will be in less than 4 feet of water, and other times you will need to troll in 20 feet of water.  Once you catch a hybrid trolling make a couple passes through the same area because these fish are pack hunters.  Don’t be surprised if multiple hook ups happen at the same time.  The other method I use is casting and covering water using an electric motor.  This is my favorite style because you really get an aggressive strike and once you find them you are  going to get a bunch of hits and hook ups.  Remember that once you find the fish you want to work your trolling motor as little as possible because these fish are spooked easily.

The next bit of information is what most anglers consider sacred information that I have acquired from experience and from other anglers.  When fishing in the spring I have a few favorite lures.  Soft and hard jerkbaits work extremely well.  Some specific brands lures include zoom flukes, case sinking minnows, bass assassins, rapala xrap and original striper-lures2floater, bomber long A, and strike king wild shiner.  I also like to use spinnerbaits varying in size.  Personally, I have caught more striper on a strike king mini king spinnerbait than any other lure in my box.  Remember when picking a spinnerbait, buzzbait, or swimming jig to match the baitfish size and color (white or shad colored) the best you can.  In the summer you will generally get them on the same lures, but you may need the deep diving version unless you are night fishing.  Another lure you may want to try in the summer is a rapala shad rap.  It gets down a little deeper than most jerkbaits.  As far as live bait goes I would stick to shiners or I would try to catch some alewives. 

This is a species that everyone can enjoy catching, so remember to share your experiences with a friend, child, or a family member.  Have fun and good luck!

 

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Beautiful Evening on the Water

Well it was a beautiful evening to be on the water.  My dad and I spent the evening fishing Lake Arthur once again.  Although the air temperature reach 70 today the water was still very cold.  The warmest water was around 54 degrees, but it was at the boat launch and when we were putting the boat on the trailer the water temperature had fallen about 6 degrees.  Once again, suspending jerkbaits proved to be the only way we were able to get hit.  We each caught 1 nice largemouth.  We spent a lot of the night covering water searching for schools of baitfish for this weekend.

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