By Boyd Smith
It’s just after ice-out and the bass are soaking up the afternoon sun in warm shallow coves and creek arms on the Northwest side of your favorite lake. The bottom substrate of these fish holding areas is mud and muck and unfit for wade fishing and your powerboat is too big and too noisy to sneak up on bass in 2 feet of water. What do you do?
1. You launch your kayak and quietly paddle into the fish holding coves. If you see carp milling about or turtles basking then you are in the right place.
2. You pick up your favorite rod on which you have tied a jig and pork trailer, a small profile spinner bait, or a small shallow diving crank-bait. 3. You cast your lures in and around any lily pads, weed growth, logs, or dark looking depressions.
4. You hook up with a big fat pre-spawn large-mouth.
The bass or either holding tight to shoreline cover, docks, and boat houses or they are hunkered down deep in the thickest greenest weed beds. What are your options.
1. You can fish the shoreline by skipping rubber worms into and under cover. You’ll catch many fish this way, but not always the biggest ones.
2. You can position your kayak close to shore and makes parallel casts with crank-baits, spinners, etc being shore to focus your attention on the edge of the drop off to deeper water. Active fish that are cruising the inside of weed edges or drop offs will give you plenty of action.
3. You can cast heavier spinner baits or jig and worm combos and work the outside edge of the weed beds. Bass and other game fish hide in the weeds so that they can ambush bait fish that swim by. The best outside weed edges are near drop offs and are irregular (not in a straight line).
4. You can wait until after dark and work the shallows paying special attention to the mouths of feeder creeks, outflows, submerged humps, and points.
5. You can skip the lake altogether and try one of your local rivers. Most rivers are under fished compared to lakes and most trout fisherman have given up on the rivers by summer time so you will more than likely have the river to yourself. If the current is slow enough you can launch your kayak and exit from the same spot eliminating the need for two vehicles. If the current is too quick to paddle against, be sure to plan your trip carefully so you know where to take out at the end of the day. Try casting spinner baits, rubber worms, or jigs into shoreline cover or work mid river rocks and weed patches with tube jigs, spinners, or small crank-baits. Be sure to pay special attention to seams, eddies, drop offs, and creek mouths. If you get tired of sitting in the kayak drag it onto the shore and wade fish a while, you can work your way down stream using the kayak as a transport to you next wading spot.
The bass are feeding heavily in preparation for the cold water season. Some fish are suspending on drop offs or over deep water and some are cruising the remaining weed beds looking for a meal. What are your options?
1. You want to be fishing early afternoons until dark, the water will be warmest this time of day and the air temperature will be more comfortable too. You may even be able to sneak out of work early enough to get in a few good hours before nightfall.
2. You can work buzz-baits, weedless spoons, rubber worms, jigs, or spinner-baits over remaining weed beds, paying special attention to weed beds around the mouths of feeder creeks and outflows. Also look for lay-downs, submerged logs, boulders, and brush piles.
3. You can work deep points and drop offs with jigs, drop-shot rigs, deep diving crank-baits, or jigging spoons. Once you find the depth the fish seem to be holding at repeat the pattern on the other points and drop offs.
4. You can troll deep diving plugs just over suspending fish, drift fish with a float and fly set up, or live line a bait-fish in the strike zone.