Many variations of bobbers mean more fish in the boat
With this day and age of microwave mentality it is nice to go back to using the crockpot every so often. Boats are bigger and faster. Electronics have made searching for fish very user friendly. Crankbaits and spinners have made covering a lot of water fast available to anyone with a boat.
What gets lost in all of this fast approach to fishing is the basics of the bobber. Bobber fishing can at times be an effective approach to every fish that swims in the fresh water of our area lakes. Most of us grew up watching bobbers as our introduction to fishing. It still works!
Clip on bobbers are still available and work great for fishing shallow under the bobber.
For deeper presentations of bait under a bobber the slip float now rules the bobber kingdom. The concept of a slip bobber is very simple. A stopper is placed on the line that can be slid up and down to adjust depth. A bobber with a "hole" in it that can slide up and down the line is placed on your line. A jig or hook on the end of the line finishes off the set up of this type of rig.
Kits are sold that make this very easy. It consists of a sting wrapped around a small plastic tube. You slide the tube over your line, slide the string off the tube, remove the tube and slide the string to the depth you want to fish, then tighten the string on your fishing line. Next slide on a bead to use as a stop so that the string will not slide through the bobber. Then slide your slip bobber onto the line.
There are many types of slip floats and they come in many sizes. Small bobbers for smaller fish, bigger bobbers for bigger fish. You can also get lighted bobbers for night fishing.
At the business end you can tie on small jigs, plain hooks, beads and hooks that can all then be tipped with minnows or leeches.
I also like to put a small split shot 6-8 inches above the hook or jig to stop the bobber from sliding all the way to the fish. Make sure you have enough weight on the set up to pull the bait down, but keep your bobber floating. You can play with these adjustments. The less floatation of the bobber, the less resistance for the fish to pull it under. Pick a bobber out for yourself that is easy to see, as they come in many color combinations. It is amazing how short of a period of time it takes fishing with a slip bobber to start to "read" what is happening under your float.
Many variations to this basic theme exist and are limited only by your creativity. As an example, the slip float specialists prying walleyes out of the trees on Devils Lake, N.D., started using the hardlines such powerpro, spiderwire, and fireline on the mainline to fight through the snags. The stop a foot above the hook to prevent the bobber from sliding to the fish was a barrel swivel and then a monofilament or fluorocarbon line is used the last foot above the jig. Weedless jigs also became popular to reduce snagging up in the deadfall trees under the water.
Fisherman at the world famous Mille Lacs Lake have long used the slip bobber to fish the rock reefs from 2-12 ft and then in the afternoon can fish with them out on deep mud in 24-32 feet of water.
For most applications a 6lb monofilament line will work fine. Lighter 4lb will improve success with panfish. If fishing in heavy weeds an 8lb line may work better to get the fish out of the cover. You can always make modifications to adapt to your fishing situations.
You will want to try adjusting your depth to place your bait exactly where you want it in relation to the depth you are fishing. If your bobber doesn't see action, cast to a new area a few feet away or try adjusting your depth. As soon as you have success, pay attention to location, direction the bobber traveled and make sure others in your boat make the adjustments and fish in the path of travel the fish are biting. It most cases it is best to let the bobber submerge, slowly reel your slack line in, lift the rod tip slightly, and as you make contact with the fish, simply set the hook. It is then "game on."
With some of the dog days ahead of us, the slip bobber can be a great way to pry a few more fish out of your favorite area lake. They work well when the water is flat and the natural jigging action created under the float when fishing in waves can work magic to stimulate a bite when other strategies haven't been working.
I never met anyone that didn't get excited seeing a bobber go under. Get out and give it a try. It always brings back great memories and can create some ones for you and your fishing partners.
(Laabs runs Brad Laabs Guide Service in Detroit Lakes.)