Bob Jensen column: Get ready for successful summer fishing
As the weather continues to slowly warm, anglers should be aware of changes in the fish-world if they want to be successful in their catching. As the water warms, the underwater world changes, and those changes will influence how fish behave and how our lure presentations should be altered. Here are some ideas for catching more fish in the early summer months.
So far this fishing season, the fish have mostly been in the spawning phase. They have been either getting ready to spawn, spawning, or finishing up with the spawning ritual. They haven't been real excited about eating, but they would eat if something came by.
Keep in mind that different species of fish spawn at different times. That means that while some fish, say walleyes, are spawning, other fish, like crappies or bass, are just getting ready to spawn.
Now that the spawn is over or nearly over, the fish turn their attention to eating, and eating is all they'll do for the rest of the summer. But, remembering that different species spawn at different times, we should target species accordingly.
Northern pike are generally the first species to spawn, so they are also the first fish to go on an aggressive feeding binge. Pike are a great target early in the summer. They'll often be in the deep reeds eating whatever comes by. One of the best ways to catch them is with a Magnum Reed-Runner Spinnerbait worked through and around the rushes.
Walleyes get aggressive about now also. Look for them on shallow structure or emerging cabbage weeds near their spawning areas. A jig tipped with a Gulp! Minnow or Power Minnow will be an excellent choice.
As the water continues to warm, you'll find gamefish wherever there is forage. That forage could be perch, bluegills, crawdads, or bugs that are hatching. This is the time of year when sonar will enable you to be so much more productive. If you're fishing deeper structure, keep an eye on the sonar for the presence of baitfish. If baitfish are around, gamefish will probably be around also. The color units that Humminbird produces do an outstanding job of revealing baitfish and the gamefish that are hanging out nearby.
As the water continues to warm, faster presentations will gain in productivity. If walleyes are the quarry, crankbaits and spinner rigs will be very good choices. However, if a weather system goes through and the fish don't respond to the faster moving baits, tie on a live bait rig and slow down. When the fish are playing hard-to-get, a slower presentation will usually get them to eat.
Early summer, which is usually late May and most of June throughout the Midwest, is an outstanding time to be on the water. Get out there as much as you can in the next few weeks.
(For more fish-catching information, visit fishingthemidwest.com.)