This process revealed some suggestions which I think may be useful for other anglers looking to improve their game this fishing season.
See the fish, catch the fish!
For years die-hard fishermen, walleye fishermen in particular, have used their sonar units “down below” to look for “marks” on the screens of those units that indicated what appeared to be walleye below. Once found, a marker buoy was cast near the marks and fishing began.
This process still works and produces a lot of fish – although tagging buoys have been replaced with electronic tags on a GPS display. However, to truly be in the game now, anglers may need to take advantage of the various sonar technologies available that look to the sides and around the boat. Many of today’s best tournament anglers catch winning fish using these technologies.
I have to admit I’m still learning this game, but I’ve found it enlightening the last few seasons to see shelters and fish far from my boat, toss bait at them and sometimes catch them. Put simply, the underwater world and its potential for producing fish is much bigger than what we used to see when we were mostly focusing on what was under the boat and ignoring, or maybe better said not to know, what was around the boat!
Fishing the Ned Rig
Much of my bass fishing as a guide over the years consisted of casting what were then called “jig worms”. These were 4-7 inch plastic worm-style baits strung on lightweight jig heads (often 1/16 to 1/8 ounce). We worked slowly along the deep weed lines in good bass lakes and slowly worked the bait along those weed edges.
Several years ago, smaller plastics fished from similar jigs came to the fore known as Ned Rigs. These baits are often in the range of 2.5 to 3 inches, making them a much smaller and thinner bait. And, they work! Clearer waters and increased bass fishing pressure on many lakes seem, in fact, to be ideal conditions for fishing them.
The past two summers a bunch of largemouth and smallmouth bass have fallen victim to Ned Ochos and Rage Ned Cut-R Worms fished on 1/8 oz jigs by my guide clients. This year a new Rage Ned Craw is available which I can’t wait to try as well.
If you like to feel a fish’s tug pulling back, a Ned Rig caught on the deep grass line will likely produce bass, northern pike, panfish, and maybe even a walleye or two!
Whatever the reason (I suspect clearer waters are the cause), smallmouth bass populations have increased and exploded in many lakes. This is a good thing because smallmouth bass are extreme fighters and acrobats that are really fun to catch.
Thousand Lakes Lake in central Minnesota became one of the world’s first smallmouth lakes. There are, however, expanding populations in a bunch of other lakes, large and small, all across the Midwest. The good news is that a stop at a local bait shop may be all it takes to find lakes with good smallmouth fishing, as it seems anglers are more willing to share. details of their good smallmouth holds than to give up where the good walleye are. get caught, or details on the big shit!
Mike Frisch hosts the “Fishing the Midwest” television series. Follow Fishing the Midwest on Facebook for more “fishy” information!