How to Catch Bait with a Cast Net

How to Catch Bait with a Cast Net

The subject of this article will be how to catch bait with a cast net. Live bait fish are often the key to angling success!

There is one inarguable fact when fishing; big fish eat little fish! In many fishing situations, the most productive offering is a live bait fish. Small bait fish, or minnows, are often the preferred forage of most game fish. A good cast net, and the ability to throw it, will provide an angler with all of the live bait fish needed. Anglers do need to check local fishing regulations to make sure they are obeying all of the laws.

How to catch bait with a cast net

Throwing a cast net

The ability to throw a cast net properly is obviously very important. There are several different methods to do so. None is really better than the other, it is just a matter of personal preference. Rather than try to explain it in print, below is a short video which shows how Capt. Jim throws his cast net on his Sarasota fishing charters.

Cast net sizes

There many different cast nets. However, the differences fall into three main categories; diameter or length, mesh size, and amount of weight per foot. While this may seem confusing, it really is not. Basically, nets with less weight and smaller mesh size will sink slower and are best suited for catching smaller bait fish in shallow water. Conversely, larger, heavier nets with a larger mesh size are best for catching larger bait in deeper water.

Here is a link to the cast net that Capt Jim uses. It is 8′ Radius – 3/16″ Mesh, click on the image to purchase or shop.

Cast net length

The length of the cast net is quite important. Obviously, the larger than that or the longer the diameter, the larger their circumference. This means that when properly thrown, a larger net will cover a larger area and therefore catch more bait. However, larger nets are heavy and cumbersome and more difficult to throw in empty. So, like in all things, cast nets are a compromise.

8′ is a good all-around that size for both novice and experienced anglers throwing a cast net. An 8 foot net is small enough that a beginner can learn to cast that well while being large enough to efficiently catch plenty of bait. Cast nets are available as short as 4 feet long. These are okay for kids, but really won’t catch enough bait for serious anglers. Conversely, seasoned pros will throw cast nets up to 12 feet in diameter. Annette this large will catch a bunch of live bait!

Cast net mesh size

The mesh size is extremely important when choosing a cast net! Anglers should cater than that to the size of the bait being pursued. Also, the mesh size will have a direct effect on how fast the net sinks in the water. Therefore, the mesh size chosen should be a balance between the size of the bait being caught in the depth of the water in which it is being caught.

A cast net with mesh that is too small will have no real ill effects on the angler, other than the fact that it sinks a bit slower. It is better to have a mesh size a little too small then a little too large. Mesh that is too large will not only result in the bait fish swimming through the mesh, but often times bait will be “gilled”.

chumming with live bait

This is where the bait gets stuck in the middle of the mesh. When this occurs, the bait fish usually dies and it can take an angler quite a while to clean the dead minnows out of the net. Anglers cast netting bait want to avoid this at all costs.

Capt. Jim uses an 8 foot diameter cast net with 1/4 inch mesh. In Florida where he fishes, most of the bait fish is between 2 inches long and 3 inches long. Also, most of the time the bait is caught in water less than 3 feet deep. This results in a perfect situation for using a smaller mesh net. Anglers catching larger bait in deeper water will obviously have to go up in a mesh size.

Cast new weight

Most cast nets let the angler know of the weight of the net. They do this and a pounds per foot designation. This is really only a consideration for anglers catching bait in deeper water. In most cases, the net manufacturer understands that a large net with large mesh is going to require more weight. Heavyweights do no good for anglers throwing a cast net in shallow water and it just adds weight, requiring more effort.

Bait fish locations and spots

Once an angler has purchased his or her net and learn to throw it, it is time to go out and catch some bait. There are a number of productive areas to catch bait, depending on the geography. Often times, bait fish can be caught right off the beach or shoreline. Grass flats are prime spots as well. Huge schools of bait will hold under bridges.

Catching bait fish on the flats

Shallow flats are the easiest places for anglers to cast net bait. They are both easier to see in easier to catch in shallow water. Shallow grass flats and bars near passes and inlets are prime spots. Where possible, it is best to hunt the bait when the water is calm and clear. This will make it much easier to spot them on the bottom.

All fish are influenced by tides, including bait fish. Generally speaking, bait will hold on the up tide side or edge of a flat or patch of grass. This is especially true if a small depth change occurs. A shallow point in a foot or two of water that drops off into 6 feet of water would be a prime spot. The bait will generally hold on the up tide edge.

Bait fish can often be seen dimpling on the surface. They will rise up in the school and in the slick calm water there are easy to spot. It almost looks like it is raining. In the morning and evening, they can be fairly easy to sneak up on. However, when the sun is up high they can be a bit skittish and harder to get close enough to to catch.

Catching bait fish near bridges

Bridges and channel markers are also good places to cast net bait fish. Often times, bait in these areas will be a bit deeper, requiring Annette that will get down faster. However, it is often worth the trouble. Huge schools of bait fish often relate to the shadow lines and pilings of bridges. Anglers do need to be very careful when throwing a cast net near a bridge in any type of current. It is best to tie the tag end of the cast net off to a cleat in order to prevent the angler being pulled overboard in the event that the net snags.

Chumming for bait fish

Chumming is a very effective technique when using a cast net to catch bait fish. It is a good strategy and water that is not very clear as well as early and late in the day when bait fish are difficult to spot. The angler anchors the boat up tide from a likely area or one that has proven to be productive in the past. He or she then pulls out small amounts of chum periodically in hopes of pulling the bait fish up behind the boat.

The amount of chum that is required will change depending on the tide. Obviously, if the tide is running swiftly, more chum will be needed to attract and keep bait fish up behind the boat. Anglers should start off small and then add more chum if the fish do not show up. Often times, just a few little clumps of chum will get them going. Once the bait fish are seen boiling in the chum, the angler can throw the net and catch them. This can be done from shore as well.

Every experienced cast net angler has their favorite chum. Capt. Jim likes to use a mixture of jack mackerel and wheat bread. This works well for the bait fish that he pursues in Florida. Dry bulk tropical fish food is easy to store and works very well. Anglers can mix up a small batch as needed. Commercial bait fish chum is available as well.

Keeping bait fish alive

Once the bait fish are caught, they must be kept alive and frisky. There is little point in catching a bunch of bait, only to have it die. Some bait fish are much hardier than others. Mud minnows and other bait fish are fairly easy to keep alive. A small live well and aerator is all that is required.

However, most of the bait that is caught with a cast net is much more fragile. These baits require large rounded bait wells along with high-volume pumps. The water needs to be recirculating constantly as well as being changed. Pumps draw freshwater from outside the boat and into the well. The water drains out through a stem pipe.

Capt. Jim and other guides and anglers in Florida employ a fishing technique that is extremely effective called “live bait chumming”. This requires a lot of bait! Once the well is stuffed with hundreds of lively minnows, the process can begin. The boat is anchored up tide of a good flat or other spot. Handfuls of bait fish are then tossed in the water behind the boat. If game fish are present, they will soon show up to feed on the freebies.

In conclusion, this article on how to catch bait with a cast net will help anglers understand the equipment and techniques required to master this very important angling skill!

Light Tackle Bottom Fishing Tips

Light Tackle Bottom Fishing; Tackle, Tips, and Techniques

This article will share some great light tackle bottom fishing tips and techniques. It will cover the tackle, rigs, baits, locations, and species that can be taking using this fishing method.

Bottom fishing is a simple, yet extremely effective fishing technique. In its basic form, it is simply lowering a weighted hook to the bottom with some type of live or natural bait attached. Many fish species being near structure close to or on the bottom. Anglers can use light tackle bottom fishing to pursue fish of just about any size. This includes both freshwater fishing and saltwater fishing. Much of the information in this article will apply to anglers fishing for just about any species all over the world.

Light tackle bottom fishing tips

Light tackle vs heavy tackle bottom fishing

Many anglers conjure up the notion of very heavy rods, large reels, and big fish when the term “bottom fishing” is mentioned. However, the reality is that the vast majority of fish landed by anglers bottom fishing do so using fairly light tackle. This can range anywhere from catching bluegill and other panfish and freshwater to saltwater species such as flounder and snapper.

There are some advantages to using light tackle when bottom fishing. First off, matching lighter tackle two smaller fish will greatly enhance the fish fighting capabilities of the species being sought. Even a small fish will put up a nice battle by anglers using ultralight tackle. Light tackle is also less cumbersome and physically demanding to use. These lighter rods are less expensive. Finally, and most importantly, this presentation often results in more bites!

Monofilament or braided line for light tackle bottom fishing?

Anglers have a choice when it comes to fishing line; monofilament line or braided line. Both have advantages and disadvantages and there really is no wrong choice. It is really a matter of angler preference. Braided line is more expensive. However, it is very sensitive and lasts a long time. So bites are more easily detected with braided line. Knots are a bit more difficult to tie.

fishing for catfish in rivers

Monofilament line is less expensive and knots are much easier to tie. However, monofilament line does stretch and is less sensitive. Monofilament line will also twist and break down over time. It is probably the best choice for beginning anglers.

Rods and reels for light tackle bottom fishing

For the majority of anglers light tackle bottom fishing, spinning outfits are the best choice. They are relatively inexpensive, easy to use, and very versatile. This makes spinning tackle the overwhelming choice for novice anglers and for children. The best spinning outfit to use will vary greatly depending on the species being sought and the environment that it is being used.

light tackle bottom fishing tips

Conventional outfits certainly have their place for anglers light tackle bottom fishing as well. These outfits work very well and both freshwater and saltwater applications. Conventional tackle is preferred by many saltwater anglers fishing inshore waters for flounder, seabass, tautog, grouper, snapper, and more. Freshwater fishermen may use them when bottom bouncing for walleye or fishing for larger fish around deep water structure.

Ultralight spinning combo

Ultralight spinning tackle is an excellent choice for freshwater anglers chasing panfish and other smaller fish species. This could also include small catfish, walleye, bass, perch, crappie, and panfish. A 6 foot light action rod with a 1000 series reel loaded with 6 pound monofilament or braided line is a good all-around choice.

An all-round spinning combo

Anglers seeking one versatile all round spinning outfit will do well with a 6 1/2 foot to 7 foot medium light spinning rod matched with a 2500 to 3000 series reel. 10 pound monofilament or braided line works well with this outfit. Anglers fishing in saltwater will want to get a rod and reel with corrosion resistant components.

This outfit will work well in both fresh and saltwater applications. It will be fine for light tackle bottom fishing for inshore saltwater species such as snapper, sheepshead, seabass, and other species. It will also work well for just about any fresh water bottom fishing for anything other than very large fish.

Light conventional conventional combo

Sarasota bottom fishing

As mentioned earlier, there is a place for conventional outfits when light tackle bottom fishing, particularly in the inshore saltwater venues. Swift currents and heavy structure such as bridges and jetties will often require anglers to use fairly heavy weights. In this application, light conventional tackle is often the best choice as it will handle the heavier weights and larger fish better.

A 7′ to 7 ½’ rod with a medium action and a matching reel with a levelwind is an excellent combination. The “levelwind” device goes back and forth across the reel, spooling the line evenly. 20 lb monofilament or braided line is a good match. These reels are not meant to be cast, but instead bottom fishing as well as trolling.

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Light tackle bottom fishing rigs

There are many different rigs that anglers use when light tackle bottom fishing. However, there are several that are the most popular and effective. These are the sliding sinker, ( also known as the Carolina rig), spreader rig (also known as a chicken rig or high/low rig), 3 way rig, and knocker rig.

bottom fishing rigs

Sliding sinker rig

The sliding sinker rig, or Carolina rig, and it’s many variations, is a very effective rig for bottom fishing. Catfish anglers in particular get very creative. The running line passes through the sinker. A swivel stops the sinker and the leader is attached to it, followed by the hook. This rig allows for the fish to pick up the bait and move off with it without feeling the resistance of the weight.

Sarasota Florida fishing charters

Spreader rig

The spreader rig, or high/low rig, is another effective rig used by anglers light tackle bottom fishing. It is most effective in a vertical presentation, but is also used by anglers surf fishing as well. It consists of a sinker at the bottom, with multiple hook being tied off at intervals. This allows for multiple baits to be presented at several distances above the bottom.

3 way rig

fishing for river catfish

The 3 way rig is a versatile rig that can be used in most bottom fishing applications. However, it really shines when drift fishing. A 3 way swivel is attached to the main line. A dropper line connects the weight to the second ring on the s way swivel. Finally, a leader is attached to the third ring followed by the hook.

The leader and dropper lengths can be adjusted to match the conditions and species being sought after. Leader lengths can be a foot or 6 feet or more. Anglers will use floats to lift the bait up off the bottom. Often times, a lighter line is used on the sinker dropper, saving the rig should the sinker snag.

Knocker rig

bottom fishing

The knocker rig is a variation of the sliding sinker rig. The sinker rides right up against the eye of the hook. Note the weight in the picture above. This keeps the bait right on the bottom. It also makes getting snagged rigs unhooked from the structure. Finally, rigging is fast and easy.

Bottom fishing hooks

Hooks come in a myriad of sizes, shapes, colors, and finishes. Basically, there are two types of hooks; J hooks and circle hooks. Circle hooks have become very popular of late as they tend to hook the fish in the mouth, reducing fish mortality after being released. J hooks are still very popular and used by the majority of anglers who bottom fish.

Sarasota mangrove snapper fishing

Hook size is generally determined by the size of the bait being used as well as the fish being pursued. Anglers presenting delicate baits for smaller fish often opt for a fine wire hook. Conversely, anglers chasing larger fish near heavy structure will need a stout or hook.

Hook sizes

Hook sizes can be a little confusing. Starting at #1 and going up, the larger the number, the smaller the hook. In other words, a #2 hook is larger than a #10 hook. However, once a hook gets larger than a #1, they switch to and “ought” system. It is represented like this, 1/0 would be a one ought hook. From there, the larger the number, the larger the hook. A #1/0 hook is smaller than a #5/0 hook.

Sarasota sheepshead fishing

Generally speaking, freshwater anglers targeting panfish and other small species will do well with a #6 to #10 fine wire live bait hook. These often have little barbs on the shank to help hold the bait on the hook. These are aptly named “bait holder” hooks and are a very good all-around choice. Anglers targeting larger species such as bass, catfish, and walleye can bump the size up with #2, #1, and #1/0 being the best all round sizes. #1/0 is a very good all round saltwater hook size, but obviously can be adjusted to the application.

Circle hooks

Circle hooks are sized a bit differently which complicates matters a little bit. The hook is sized by the distance between the point and the shank. Due to the shape of circle hooks, this results in anglers often using a circle hook that is two or three sizes larger than that what they would use in a J hook.

striper fishing

Circle hooks have a unique design. They have a cam like action when in a fishes mouth which causes it to turn and catch the lip on the way out. This results in the majority of fish being hooked in the outer lip. Obviously, this aids and releasing the fish in better condition. Anglers using circle hooks cannot set the hook! Instead, they need to let the line get tight then simply lift the rod tip and reel.

Anglers light tackle bottom fishing can use several different techniques. Many anglers successfully bottom fish from shore as well as docks. Anglers can anchor and fish vertically in deep water or cast toward structure in shallow water. Finally, anglers can choose to drift while presenting baits on the bottom.

Bottom fishing sinkers

Fishing sinkers come in quite a variety of shapes and weights. There are many specialty sinkers for anglers chasing catfish and other species. However, fishing sinkers basically break down into three types; egg sinkers, bank sinkers, and pyramid sinkers. While the three types are interchangeable, there are situations that makes one preferable over the other.

fishing for catfish

The general rule of thumb when choosing a weight is to use the least amount that will reach and hold bottom. And saltwater fishing, title flow is constantly changing. This requires anglers to adjust the weight of the sinker to match the conditions. This is true in freshwater as well, especially when fishing rivers.

Egg sinkers

Egg sinkers are probably the most commonly used sinker when fishing. They are generally round or egg shaped with a whole running through the metal. The running line slides through this hole and then a swivel is attached. This will not only stops the weight from sliding down to the hook, it gives anglers something to attach the leader to.

walleye fishing guide

The primary advantage to using egg sinkers is that a fish can pick up the bait and move off with it without feeling any resistance from the weight. The sinker will remain at the bottom while the line slides through the hole in the center. Egg sinkers work best when bottom fishing from a stationary position over structure. They also work well when drifting, as long as the bottom is relatively free. Egg sinkers will lodge themselves in rocky structure if allowed to drift.

Bank sinkers

Bank sinkers, as the name implies, are often used by anglers casting baits out from the shore. They are shaped a bit like a bowling pin with a hole at the top for the line to be attached. Bank sinkers work well with spreader rigs as they tend to hold bottom in both sandy and rocky bottoms. Bank sinkers also work pretty well when drifting over the submerge structure as the shape tends to bounce over the rocks instead of getting lodged in them. Anglers use bank sinkers with most 3 way rigs.

Pyramid sinkers

surf fishing

Pyramid sinkers are most often used by anglers surf fishing. Freshwater river anglers use them as well. They are designed to hold the bottom in the sand. Pyramid sinkers will snag quickly when fished over rocky bottom. Surf anglers use a clever device called a fish finder. This is a plastic tube with a clip on it. The running line passes through the tube, much like a sliding sinker rig. A clip on the tube allows for anglers to easily and quickly change the weight of the sinker to match the conditions.

Light tackle bottom fishing techniques

Anglers light tackle bottom fishing can use several different techniques. Many anglers successfully bottom fish from shore as well as docks. Anglers can anchor and fish vertically in deep water or cast toward structure in shallow water. Finally, anglers can choose to drift while presenting baits on the bottom.

Bottom fishing from shore

Probably the oldest form of bottom fishing was anglers casting a baited line out from shore. This technique still produces plenty of fish. Anglers chasing catfish, walleye, panfish, and other freshwater species do well using both live and cut bait. Saltwater anglers cast cut bait from shore in the surf as well as fishing from docks and piers.

river fishing in Virginia

The biggest obstacle to anglers bottom fishing from shore as limited access to fishing spots. Basically, shore bound anglers are limited to public areas where they can access bodies of water. Also, they can only fish spots that are within casting distance of shore. Still, anglers can be very successful bottom fishing from shore.

The spreader rig is often times the best choice for anglers bottom fishing from shore. This rig allows them to present multiple baits a little bit off the bottom. This generally snags less often. Bank sinkers are most often used in this application.

Bottom fishing from an anchored boat

Many anglers do their light tackle bottom fishing from an anchored boat. This is especially true when fish relate to smaller pieces of structure such as rock piles, bridges, piers, docks, and ledges. The most effective technique is to anchor up current of the area to be fished. The bait can then be presented back to the fish in a natural manner.

fishing Texas lakes

Both the spreader rig and sliding sinker rig will work well in this application. The choice often depends on the species being sought after. Fish that are right on the bottom such as flounder will often respond best to the sliding sinker rig, which keeps the bait closer to the bottom. Conversely, fish that school a foot or two off the bottom such as perch and snapper will like the spreader rig better.

Drifting baits on the bottom

Drifting can be an extremely effective technique for bottom fishing. It allows anglers to cover a lot of water in search of feeding fish. The one downside to drifting is that anglers will inevitably hang up more often, especially when fishing rocky bottoms.

The three-way rig is most often used when drift fishing. Anglers will often times use lighter test line on the branch going from the swivel to the weight. That way if the weight snags the lighter line will break, saving the rest of the rig. This will save time when rereading and getting a bait back into the water.

Bottom fishing baits

The list of baits that anglers have used successfully to catch fish is a long one! Just about any fish, insects, or crustaceans that can be found in or near the water can be and has been used for bait. However, anglers are not even limited to that. Items found in the grocery store such as chicken livers and even soap have been used successfully by anglers. Finally, there are many commercially prepared baits that can be bought at tackle shops. These are convenient, easy to store, and effective.

Often times, the best approach is to visit a local bait and tackle shop. These folks stay up on what is biting and the best baits and spots. Local conditions and baits vary greatly depending on the region. Online resources can be excellent as well.

Freshwater baits

Freshwater anglers use live baits including worms and nightcrawlers, minnows, crayfish, helgramites, leeches, grasshoppers, and crickets. Anglers using live baits generally hook them in such a way that they will remain lively while still staying firmly attached to the hook. This will vary depending on the bait being used.

Cut baits and commercially prepared baits work well and freshwater, too. Just about any oily fish can be cut up and used for bait, with suckers, shad, and herring being the top baits. While catfish are often the primary species being pursued, cut bait will catch just about any fish that swims.

Commercially prepared baits have become popular of late. These can be paste type of baits that are used for catfish and even trout. Fish egg baits are also very popular for stream trout fishing. Dehydrated grass shrimp and other insects are a favorite among pan fisherman. In most cases, these baits can be kept sealed in a tackle box for long periods of time. This makes them very convenient.

Saltwater baits

Saltwater anglers certainly have their choice when it comes to bottom fishing baits as well. Top live baits include live bait fish, shrimp, and crabs. Saltwater anglers use fresh and frozen cut baits much more often than freshwater anglers do. Just about any locally caught fish can be cut up and used for bait, as long as regulations allow it.

In conclusion, this article on light tackle bottom fishing will help anglers everywhere catch more fish!

 

 

Tailwater Fishing tips and techniques

Tailwater fishing tips and techniques for action and variety

This article will share some great information on tailwater fishing tips and techniques. A tailwater is a river downstream from a dam, weir, spillway, or other obstruction in a river or flowing body of water.

Tailwater fisheries are abundant in the United States. They offer anglers an excellent fishing opportunity. A tailwater is a section of river just below a dam or spillway. Fish migrating up the river are stopped at this point. This results in a congregation of fish. Also, current flow is strong in these areas. Forage fish are also usually abundant. These factors all combine to create an excellent environment to catch fish! Many anglers assaciate tailwaters with trout fishing, and this is true. However, tailwaters also offer terrific fishing for striped bass, smallmouth bass, largemouth bass, and catfish as well.

Tailwater fishing for bass and catfish

There are an estimated 85,000 dams in the United States. Many, if not most, of these dams create a tailwater fishery. Most anglers live fairly close to some type of tailwater. The Tennessee Valley Authority created many lakes in the 60s. They did this to control flooding. However, the result was outstanding access for recreational uses such as boating and fishing.

Tailwater fishing tips

It is easy to understand why tailwater fisheries are so productive. Fish that migrate up rivers such as striped bass, shad, and other species are stopped by the dam. Unless there is some type of fish ladder, they cannot go any further. This results in the fish being concentrated in the water below the dam.

Fish also concentrate below the dam because it is an excellent feeding opportunity. Shad and other bait fish will get washed over the dam and sometimes chopped up going through the turbines of the generator. Many species will sit in the river just below the dam and feast on the buffet. Game fish are stronger and have the advantage in the stronger current over helpless bait fish. They will position themselves behind boulders and other obstructions out of the current, then dart out and grab their prey.

Tailwater fishing tips

Safety first when fishing tailwaters!

Safety is the number one concern when fishing tail waters! Current is usually very strong in tailwaters. This is particularly true when the the gates are open or in times of high rainfall. Anglers need to be cautious, whether in a boat or even wading. Many dams will have sirens to alert anglers and boaters downstream of the impending release of water. Anglers can often hear the change in water flow as well.

Some anglers think the the great fishing only exists at the dam. This is far from the truth! In trout streams in particular, the cool, rushing water will have an impact many miles down river. The same applies to warm water fishing for stripers, bass, and catfish as well.

Tailwater fishing produces multiple species

The list of species taken in tailwater fisheries is endless. Many of the most productive freshwater trout fisheries exist because of tailwaters. Water temperature in lakes will vary by depth. Water can be released into the tailwater to cater to the preferred temperature of the trout. This is especially true east of the Mississippi River. Just about every lake or reservoir in the hills or the mountains offers excellent fishing for trout in it’s tailwater.

fli fishing Franklin North Carolina

Warm water species such as bass and catfish will take advantage of tailwaters as well. Small mouth bass in particular enjoy a bit of current flow and will take up ambush points in the rivers below dams. Migratory species such as striped bass and white bass along with shad will migrate up the rivers as they prepare to spawn.

Dams can also be the dividing line between freshwater and salt or brackish water. Often times, this obstruction is not a hydroelectric dam, it is a weir or spillway. However, it has the same effect. Saltwater fish that can tolerate brackish water such as striped bass up north and snook in tarpon in Florida will migrate up the river at then be stopped at the obstruction. Once again, fish will set up feeding stations as smaller forage fish get washed over the top of the spillway.

Tailwater fishing tackle

Tackle for fishing tailwater rivers runs the gamut, Anglers will need a couple of outfits to cover the various species. An ultralight spinning outfit with 4-6 lb line works well when targeting trout and bass in smaller talilwater rivers. Choose the 2000 size outfit.

A medium spinning rig with 10 lb monofilament or braided line is good for larger bass and small striped bass and catfish. Choose the 3000 size option.

Anglers fishing for larger fish from shore will need a stout spinning outfit in order to make long casts and handle a big fish. A medium-heavy spinning outfit with 20 lb braid works well.

A medium conventional outfit is best for targeting larger fish in fast water. It will take some beef to subdue a large catfish or striped bass in heavy current. 30 lb braid is the best choice.

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Fishing the Susquehanna River tailwater

Kayla Haile grew up in fishing the Susquehanna River below the Cowingo Dam. This is basically the headwaters of Chesapeake Bay and is an outstanding tailwater fishery! Striped bass are the main quarry for most anglers, and Kayla is no exception. Catfish, smallmouth bass, walleye, shad, and other species are available.

Tailwater fishing tips and techniques

Kayla likes to “match the hatch” when fishing the Susquehanna tailwater. She uses a 3/4 ounce white buck tail as it resembles the majority of the forage in the river. This is primarily white perch but there may be shad and other smaller fish as well. Kayla drifts with the current while bouncing her jig along the bottom. White is a great all round color, however anglers will do well to match their baits to the size and color of the forage in the river.

Jigs are excellent tailwater fishing lures

Jigs are great lures for fishing tailwaters all over the country. They are relatively inexpensive and anglers fishing these rivers will certainly snag the bottom often. It just goes with the territory. Most of these tailwater rivers are strewn with rocks and boulders. However these are crucial as fish use them to lie in wait in the eddies.

Fishing tailwaters for walleye

Kayla does fish for other species as well. She will put up the heavy tackle used for striped bass and grab and ultralight spinning outfit and target smallmouth bass and walleye. Both of these species thrive in tailwater’s. They prefer cooler water with a little bit of current, and this describes many tailwater fisheries throughout the country.

Tailwater fishing tips and techniques

The same techniques that work for Kayla when targeting striped bass work for anglers in Tennessee catching smallmouth bass and out West for anglers catching salmon. Anglers can anchor just outside the main current and fish with bait. They can also drift with the current and cast lures, bounced jigs off the bottom, or drift with live or fresh bait. Out West, anglers do very well drifting with roe sacks.

salmon fishing in tailwaters

Live bait and cut bait is effective in these situations as well. Forage fish often do not survive the journey over or through the dam. The result is cut up fish and dead fish floating through the river. Live or cut bait fished on the bottom is therefore quite productive. Most anglers fishing with cut bait choose to anchor. Anglers using live bait can drift or anchor, depending on the conditions.

Catfish love tailwaters

Catfishing is extremely popular in the United States right now. The reason for this is simple, catfish are abundant and grow very large. Many large catfish are caught in tailwater just below the dam. One advantage to this type of fish and is that boats are often times not required. In fact, fishing from shore can be the most effective and productive method.

tailwater fishing tips and techniques

The best technique when using live or cut bait and a fast-moving river is to use a sliding sinker rig. The main line slides through the sinker than is attached to a swivel. A 24 inch to 36 inch piece of leader is used between the swivel and the hook. Large circle hooks are preferred as most fish are hooked in the mouth, making a healthy release easier. The sinker sizes adjusted with the current flow, with 3 ounces to 5 ounces being the average size.

Trout fishing in tailwater rivers

The creation of dams in the 60s and 70s along with the corresponding tail waters has resulted in a booming fishery for freshwater trout. Most of these are rainbow trout and brown trout. Trout fishing is excellent in these tailwaters as far south as North Georgia. One of the most famous examples, and probably the most productive trout fishing stream in the United States, is the white River and Arkansas. Once again, the key is the ability to control water temperature downstream from the dam, creating the optimal conditions for trout to thrive in.

Fishing the north shore of Minnesota

Trout anglers can either wade these streams or drift in a boat. While waiting is fun and productive, it is hard to beat a relaxing fishing trip in a drift boat. The anglers cast flies as the guide keeps the boat and prime position as it meanders down the stream. This allows anglers to cover a large portion of water in a relatively short amount of time. Most anglers fly fish for trout, however others spend fish as well. Trout fishing regulations can be a bit tricky, always check local regulations before fishing.

Drift fishing tailwaters

Drifting is a great way to fish any tailwater. Anglers will motor up close to the dam, then drift through the productive area. Many boats are equipped with jet propulsion versus propellers due to the rocky bottom. The current flow will generally ease up the further an angler gets from the dam. This technique of drifting works great no matter what the species, striped bass, smallmouth bass, musky, trout, catfish, and other game fish.

Water discharges are very important when it comes to tailwater fishing. Many dams actually publish the times when water will be released. In some circumstances, this increased flow of water will dramatically affect the bite. However, safety must be the first concern. No fishes worth dying over! Most anglers choose to trout fish when water is not being discharged.

Fishing tailwater rivers in Florida

Here on the West Coast of Florida where I fish, we have tailwaters as well. Snook, jacks, juvenile tarpon, and other saltwater species will migrate up into brackish rivers in the winter. They do this to escape the temperature extremes of the shallow flats. These rivers remain a bit salty due to the lack of rainfall Florida receives in the winter.

fishing for snook

Once again, a dam limits the migration of the species. The snook and other game fish are then concentrated in a relatively small stretch of river. Once again, drifting and casting lures such as shallow diving plugs or jigs is the best approach. My clients catch the largest snook of the year employing this technique in these rivers in the winter. On the occasions that we do receive some rainfall and water flows over the dam, it is game on! This is true of any spillway, even on the smaller creeks.

In closing, I hope this article tailwater fishing tips and techniques will help other anglers experience success in these outstanding locations. Be safe, but get out there and enjoy these man-made hotspots!

Light Tackle Trolling in Saltwater

Light Tackle Trolling in Saltwater, Tips, Tackle, and Techniques

In this article I will share some great information and tips on light tackle trolling in saltwater. Trolling is a very effective technique that will produce a wide variety of species.

Trolling in its basic form is the act of pulling lures or baits behind a moving boat. This allows anglers to cover a lot of water quickly and efficiently. Trolling will also produce both numbers of fish and quality sized fish. Lure selection, tackle, depth, speed, and distance behind the boat are all critical factors to achieving success when trolling. We will cover all of those aspects in this article.

Light tackle trolling in Saltwater

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Best trolling tackle

Conventional tackle is the best choice best choice for anglers trolling in saltwater. Spinning tackle can be used, however there is a large strain on the spindle. Conventional outfits have better drags, more line capacity, and more power. Fortunately, there are a wide variety of options that are both versatile and affordable.

The best trolling rods have a fairly fast action. That means that they are strong in the butt section but become very limber towards the tip. This limber tip is very important when trolling. A 7 foot medium fast action trolling rod paired with a 30 series conventional real is a great all round choice. This is light enough to enjoy the fight of a Spanish mackerel while being heavy enough to land a larger fish.

light tackle trolling in saltwater

 

Here is a link to a quality Penn combo at an affordable price. Click on the image to purchase or shop.

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Rigging up for trolling

I use a variation of the same basic rig for all of my trolling. First off, I double about 5 feet of the running line using a Uni Knot. If I’m using a plug or live bait rig, I then add a 3 foot to 5 foot section of shock leader. This will vary depending on the size of the fish being pursued. When using planers or trolling sinkers, I simply tie either right to the double line.

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While some anglers use wire leaders, I rarely do. The best water conditions for anglers light tackle trolling in Florida are clear, calm waters. I just find that under these conditions wire reduce the strikes. Surprisingly, I experience relatively few cutoffs using fluorocarbon leader, especially on the spoons. Once in a while a large king mackerel will bite off a plug.

Trolling with plugs

Perhaps the easiest way to to start trolling is to do so with diving plugs. This type of trolling is very easy as there is minimal hardware involved. Plugs are available in many different sizes, shapes, and colors. They all have a bill on the front which to a large degree determines the depth that which the plug will dive. Most manufacturers have a fairly reliable chart that will help anglers decide which plug to use.

fishing with plugs

As a fishing guide in Florida, I have had many trips saved by trolling. At times I get anglers with very little experience. But, anyone can sit there and hold the rod while waiting for a fish to strike. Spanish mackerel, bluefish, trout, false albacore, jacks, ladyfish and more will hit a trolled plug.

My favorite lure for this type of trolling is a #8 Rapala X-Rap. This bait has a lot of action and will dive down several feet below the surface. White and olive are my top colors. This bait has produced many Spanish mackerel for clients over the years. This is one application where spinning tackle is fine as the lures are quite small.

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As mentioned above, anglers using larger plugs will do best with light conventional outfits. A 5 foot fluorocarbon leader of 80 pound test is a good all-around choice. Larger plugs are very effective for king mackerel, false albacore, and other species for anglers trolling the inshore Gulf of Mexico and Atlantic Ocean.

Top plugs for trolling in saltwater

Top plugs are the Bomber Long A, Yozuri Crystal Minnow, and #12 Rapala X-Rap. These are all effective and proven lures. The best approach is to choose a size and finish which matches the local forage. Local bait shops can often help out with this. Anglers should by their baits with several different lips in order to cover the entire water column. These plugs do have multiple treble hooks, which make releasing fish a bit more difficult.

gag grouper in Texas

One tactic that is grown in popularity within the last decade is trolling deep diving plugs for gag grouper. This is particularly effective in the cooler months when grouper migrate in closer to shore and holdover shallow water ledges and structure. The Mann Stretch 30 were the first plugs designed for this type of fishing and still work well.

Trolling with plugs is very easy. This is one of the attractions, as anyone can do it. Once rigged up, the plug is let out a distance behind the boat, the the reel engaged, and the rod is put in a stern rod holder. The angler then drives around a bit above idle speed and search of fish. The drags should be set fairly loose so that when a fish is hooked the plug is not ripped out of its mouth.

Light tackle trolling in saltwater with jigs

striped bass fishing tips and spots

Jigs are another lore that anglers control fairly easily. Jig heads come in a myriad of different sizes and shapes. Most opt for the shad tail style baits as they have an enticing swimming action and mimic the local forage. Torpedo or triangular-shaped heads are generally the most effective jig head style.

Anglers can use jig head weight and boat speed to reach the desired depth. Generally speaking, jigs need to be trolled fairly slowly or they tend to twist and roll. Striped bass fisherman in the Northeast catch a lot a fish by trolling jigs! A white buck tail jig with a 4 inch to 5 inch Shad tail grub is a great all round combination. Jigs can be trolled behind the trolling sinkers and planers as well. More on that as we go forward.

light tackle trolling in saltwater

Trolling with spoons

Spoons are incredibly effective lures for anglers light tackle trolling in Florida. Trolling spoons are specially designed, being long and slender. When pulled through the water, they have a very erratic and enticing action. The most popular spoons are silver, which matches most bait fish found in open water. Most spoons have one single hook, which makes handling fish and releasing them much easier.

Spoons are light and some type of device must be used to get them down in the water column. Anglers have two choices; trolling sinkers and planers. Sinkers are simply weights with swivels at each and that are tied in line between the running line and the leader.

The rig consists of the trolling sinker, a length of fluorocarbon leader, a snap swivel, and the spoon. Leader lengths vary, with 10 foot to 15 foot leader is being the most effective. Obviously, the heavier the sinker the deeper the lure will go. However, this will be limited by the speed somewhat. This is especially true when trolling between 5 kn and 7 kn, which is a common speed for most inshore saltwater trolling.

trolling for mackerel

Using trolling sinkers

3 ounces is a good all-around size for this type of light tackle trolling. There are a couple of different sinker designs; keel sinkers and torpedo sinkers. Both work fine, it is really just a matter of angler choice in what is available. These sinkers do have swivels at the front and rear which will help reduce line twist.

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Trolling with this sinker rig is fairly simple. With the boat in gear, the spoon is dropped in the water and the leader played out by hand. The sinker is then put in the water and as the boat moves along line is played out behind the boat to a determined length. The rod is then put in the holder while the boat trolls in search of fish.

When a fish is hooked, the rod is removed from the holder and the angler fights the fish. If there is more than one line out, the boat must maintain forward motion or the other line will sink to the bottom and snag. Once the sinker is a foot or so away from the rod tip, the angler stops reeling backs up in the fish is hand lined in the rest of the way.

Light tackle trolling in saltwater with planers

Planers are clever devices that are used to get spoons and other lures down in the water column. They work similarly two diving plugs, but with a neat little twist. The planer has a sliding ring on it. The running line is attached to this ring. When the planer is set, with the sliding ring at the top, it digs down into the water causing the planer and the lure to run at a desired depth.

trolling with planers

When a fish strikes, the planer “trips”, resulting in the ring sliding to the back. This allows the angler to fight the fish unencumbered by the pull or dig of the planer. As with the spoon, once the planer is a foot or so from the rod tip, the angler walks backward while another hand lines the fish in the rest of the way.

Planer sizes

Planers come in sizes. A #1 planer will dive down 5 to 7 feet it is perfect for anglers pursuing Spanish mackerel and false albacore. A snap swivel is attached to the back of the planer. A 20 foot long fluorocarbon leader of 50 pound test followed by a spoon completes the rig.

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A #2 planer will dive down 12 to 15 feet or so. This rig will catch a lot of king mackerel. The rig is similar to a number one planer with an increase in leader strength. A snap swivel is attached to the end of the planer and a 20 foot long fluorocarbon leader of 80 pound test followed by the spoon completes the rig.

A #3 planer will dive down to 25 feet or more. However, this pushes the definition of “light tackle trolling”is a fairly stout rod is required to hold up under the strain of a number three planer.

Spoon size with planers

There are no real restrictions as to the size of the spoon that can be used with the planer. Large spoons can be used on the # one planer and small spoons can be used on the # two planer. The purpose of the planer sizes is to vary the depth in the water column at which the lures can be trolled. Planers also work well at high speeds of up to eight or even 10 kn without spinning or twisting. For most anglers light tackle trolling in Florida, 5 to 7 kn is the perfect speed.

light tackle saltwater trolling

A productive trolling spread

Setting up the trolling spread is very important. Doing so incorrectly will result in tangled lines and angler frustration. One basic principle that will help anglers is to keep the deepest lines in close and the shallowest lines further back. Having several lines at different depths and different distances will allow anglers to make turns without the lines tangle. Conversely, having several lines the same distance back at the same depth almost ensures a tangled mess.

Florida king mackerel fishing

The following spread is one that I use often on my charters and is worked well for me. I do this mostly in the inshore Gulf of Mexico when trolling for king mackerel, Spanish mackerel, and false albacore. However, it will produce just as well in any open water that is 20 feet deep or deeper.

With the boat in gear and idling forward, I put out a shallow diving plugs such as a Bomber Long A. I free spool the reel and count the line back for 25 seconds. I then locked the reel and put the rod in a port holder.

Putting out the trolling lines

Next, on the starboard side, I deploy the #1 planer, counting it back for 20 seconds and placing it in a starboard rod holder. Finally, I deploy the #2 planer, counting it back 15 seconds and placing it in the other port rod holder.

light tackle trolling in saltwater

The result is three lures running at various steps from right under the surface to 15 feet down and at varying distances behind the boat. This will cover the water column efficiently while allowing me the option to make turns and adjust course to cover structure or when I see fish on the surface.

Anglers in smaller boats or just starting out may choose to stick with two lines. Fishing a #1 and #2 planer will catch a lot of fish while helping the angler gets some experience trolling.

Live bait trolling

Anglers can also troll using live bait fish. This is a bit of a specialized tactic that tends to produce less fish, but larger ones. A rig called a “stinger rig” is used. This is a wire leader about 3 feet long with two hooks on it. The forward hook is used to go through the nose of the bait and the rear hook either swings free or is lightly embedded in the top of the bait fish.

Florida king mackerel

This rig is very effective. The front hook keeps the bait going straight while most of the fish are hooked on the rear hook. This rear hook is most often a trouble hook. King mackerel in particular are famous for clipping a bait fish and half and this rear hook, or stinger hook, will catch them. Anglers need to set the drag light to prevent the hook from pulling.

The best baits for slow trolling are blue runners ( AKA hard tails), cigar minnows, large scaled sardines, and threadfin herring. Blue runners are the preferred bait as a are quite hardy and troll well. Often times, anglers trolling with spoons will pick up blue runners while seeking mackerel. They can then be saved for slow trolling later. Sabiki rigs dropped down in schools of bait or over structure will put enough baits to fish with in the well in short order.

light tackle trolling in saltwater

Anglers troll very slowly when using this technique. It is best suited for fishing a smaller area such as an artificial reef or where a school of fish has already been located. We lines are another good spot to slow troll. Larger boats actually have special devices to keep the boat moving slowly enough. The idea is to make just enough headway to keep the line tight in the bait swimming naturally in the water.

Productive spots to troll

Anglers light tackle trolling and saltwater will seek out the same areas as a wood using any other type of fishing method. Here on the West Coast of Florida where I fish, the Gulf floor is relatively barren. This means that any type of structure will generally hold bait and game fish. Ledges and artificial reefs are top spots.

Structure is always a great place to start trolling. However, fish will often times be found in open water as well. This usually occurs as a are hurting up bait fish. Anglers should keep their eye on the horizon, searching for any signs of surface activity and birds working. Birds sitting on the surface or wheeling and diving are great indications that feeding fish are in the area.

fishing for bluefish

Working breaking fish is very exciting! There’s nothing better than saying a large area of the surface a rubbed as bluefish, striped bass, Spanish mackerel, false albacore, and other species devour helpless bait fish. The best approach is to skirt the school with the boat then wants clear turn the wheel so that the lures passed through the feeding fish. Driving the boat through the middle of the fish will put them down and anger your fellow anglers.

Trolling in shallow water

Trolling works well in shallow water and should not be overlooked by anglers as well. Shallow diving plugs such as that #8 Rapala X-Rap are very productive. They allow anglers to cover a lot of water and it is a great way for novice anglers to catch a few fish. Submerge grass beds are great areas to troll inshore.

light tackle trolling in saltwater

In Chesapeake Bay, Pamlico sound, and other large shallow bays, trolling produces a lot a fish. Jigs are often a top choice for anglers trolling for striped bass in flounder in these waters. Channel edges are prime spots where a flat drops down into deeper water. Fish will often times hold right on the edge and ambush prey.

In conclusion, this article on light tackle trolling and saltwater will help you master this incredibly productive fishing technique!

Florida Bowfishing Tips and equipment

Florida Bowfishing Tips

This article shares some great Florida bowfishing tips and techniques. Bowfishing has gained in popularity throughout both freshwater and saltwater.

Bowfishing in Florida combines both fishing and hunting. Fish are quietly stalked, usually in shallow water. After the quarry is spotted, the “angler/hunter” takes aim and shoots at the fish. Special bows are used that are equipped with reels. Once shot, the fish is then reeled in. The combination of stalking, shooting, and reeling along with the constant action attract many to this sport. Only “non game fish” can be shot, so those bowfishing need to be able to identify the fish species that they pursue as well as the size limits.

Bowfishing is a growing sport

Bowfishing is a rapidly growing sport, especially among younger people including many women and children. There are several reasons for this. The investment in decent gear is modest, it can be done anywhere, and it is child-friendly; there is no need for the youngster to sit still or be quiet.

One element that most novice bowfishers enjoy is the constant action; there is always something going on versus traditional hunting where the hunter quietly sits motionless for long periods of time. Finally, hunters can get out there and shoot during the “off season”, honing their skills for the upcoming fall hunt.

Bowfishing charters in Florida

Just as in any fishing or hunting endeavor, bowfishers who can afford it will gain a lot of knowledge by taking out a bowfishing charter. It is a great investment that will allow potential bowfishers to experience the sport while putting them way ahead on the learning curve. Captain Ed McCormack runs Florida Bowfishing Charters based out of Crystal River. He can be reached at Florida Bowfishing. We thank him his tips in this article!

Florida bowfishing tips; freshwater

Most bowfishing in Florida is done in freshwater lakes and rivers. Night bowfishing is generally safer on calm freshwater lakes and rivers. Non-gamefish are the only types of fish that can legally be shot. Tilapia, mudfish (bowfin), catfish, and gar are the primary species.

Florida Bowfishing for invasive species

I am a guide and run fishing charters in Sarasota and I promote catch-and-release on the majority of my saltwater fishing trips. At first the idea of killing everything seemed a bit unpalatable. But, there is a situation here that is perfect for bowfishing; taking invasive species which have become a problem in many parts of Florida. As is the case in much of Florida, in my home area of Sarasota, many of the freshwater lakes and rivers are inundated with tilapia, particularly the Myakka River system. So, anglers can take as many of these fish as they want with a clear conscience. In fact, doing so usually improves the fishery.

Florida bowfishing regulations

Non-gamefish (with the exception of grass carp) may be taken by bow at night as well as during the day with the following exceptions; the spillways of the Eureka and Rodman dams on the Oklawaha River or on the spillway of the Jim Woodruff Dam on the Apalachicola River or in Dade County canals south of the C-4 and east of the L-31N and L-31W canals inclusively.

Black bass, crappie, bluegill, redear sunfish, warmouth, redbreast sunfish, spotted sunfish, flier, mud sunfish, longear sunfish, shadow bass, peacock bass, white bass, striped bass and sunshine bass are all freshwater game fish and can NOT be shot with a bow; all other freshwater species are non-game fish and can be taken with a bow.

The tilapia’s habits make it a prime target for bowfishing. They cruise slowly in shallow water, generally in decent-sized schools and their broad sides make an inviting target. A Florida freshwater fishing license is required.Check the FWC site for current regulations.

As in all outdoor pursuits, purchase the best equipment that is within the budget. Fortunately, it really does not take a lot of money to get started.

Florida bowfishing equipment

AMS is the leader when it comes to bowfishing equipment. Their bows are specifically built and designed for bowfishing. Bowfishing is different from hunting in that there will be many more shots taken. Bowfishing bows need to be light and easy to draw.They created the Hooligan bow, It can be drawn easily, allowing the shooter to hunt for hours tirelessly without sacrificing penetrating power. The entire package with reel, arrows, line, and safety system will run around $500. Click on the image to shop.

Using the AMS reel (specifically made for bowfishing) and Safety Slide system included in the Hooligan package is a wise investment, particularly for a beginner. They are safer and eliminate arrow “snap back” as well as making line management and retrieval much faster and easier. These components can also be purchased and used on other bows as well. The arrows have a special tip that is unscrewed a couple of turns, allowing the “barbs” on the arrow to be reversed so that the arrow slides out of the fish easily.

The venerable Jon boat is the perfect craft to hunt fish in Florida’s lakes, ponds, and rivers. Most have a large deck on the bow and are very stable, making them the ideal shooting platform. Add to that the fact that they are easily trailered or tossed into the back of the truck, making more remote areas accessible. Serious bowfishing anglers install rails and spotlights in the bow. Bowfishing can also be done from the shore and when wading.

Florida bowfishing techniques

Florida bowfishing tactics are fairly straight-forward. The best technique is to cruise along a shoreline or weed bed slowly while scanning the water for a target. A transom mounted trolling motor with an operator in the rear and two shooters on the bow is a good combination, allowing the water in front and off to the sides of the boat to be scanned while slowly moving through a promising looking spot. Areas of fairly shallow water with some vegetation are prime areas to search for these over-sized exotic panfish. If the shot is a miss, reel in the line and make ready again. If a fish is hit, the “angler” can either reel it in or simply hand line the fish back to the boat.

bowfishing at night

The same variables that apply to sight fishing also apply to bowfishing. Clear sunny days from mid morning to mid afternoon when the sun is high with little wind will make for easier spotting than an overcast, breezy day. But, that applies to shooting in the daytime. For a truly memorable and surreal experience, try bowfishing at night! This is when many serious aficionados take to the water.

Capt Ed recommends using 200 pound Dacron line on the AMS reels. This makes it much easier on the hands when removing arrows from sando bottoms that are common in Florida. Also, bowhunters use to using a release should learn to shoot fingers because there is little time to work with the “release and snap” shooting that is common in bowfishing. In Addition, hunters have to stay clicked in and at the ready when using a release. That will cause arm fatigue after a while.

Bowfishing at night

Easing through a Florida backwater in the pitch black of night with bright lights shining into the water can be downright unnerving. But also very productive as this is the time when many species feed and are on the prowl. Also, the lights penetrate the dark tannin-stained water that make up many of Florida’s lakes and rivers.

Florida bowfishing tips

Many anglers choose to go bowfishing at night. This can be very productive! However, it does require some special equipment and safety always needs to be the primary consideration. Bright spotlights are placed in the bow. Several batteries and even small generators are used. Fish are easily spotted and are often quite close to the boat. It is an eerie, but really cool, experience!

Florida Bowfishing in Saltwater

Bowfishing in the Florida saltwater is very similar to freshwater bowfishing. Again, only non-game fish may be taken. The top species that are pursued are sheepshead, rays, and flounder. However, jacks, ladyfish, snapper, and other species can be targets of opportunity.

Bowfishing for sheepshead

Florida bowfishing for sheepshead

Sheepshead are a prime target for anglers bowfishing in Florida for several reasons. They often cruise in schools in shallow water along oyster bars. Sheepshead have broad bodies making for a larger “strike zone”. Finally, they are fantastic eating! prime months for sheepshead are from early winter to late spring.

Low, incoming tides are the best time to seek out these saltwater panfish. They really are just saltwater versions of bluegill. Low tides will concentrate fish on the outside edge of the bar. As the tide floods in, the fish will move up onto the bars to feed. Sheepshead are often encountered in small schools or bunches of fish.

Bowfishing for mullet

bowfishing in Florida

Mullet are a perfect fish for anglers bowfishing in Florida. Mullet cruise around slowly in large schools in shallow water, perfect! The only downsides are that their bodies are fairly narrow and the flesh is a bit soft. However, with today’s arrows, very few fish pull off and are lost. Mullet are good eating, whether pan fried or smoked.

Bowfishing for black drum

Black drum are very similar to sheepshead in both looks and habits. They are a bit more elongated and do grow much larger. However, they are found along the oyster bars, same as sheepshead. Smaller black drum are fantastic eating, though the larger specimens can get wormy, especially in the warmer months.

Bowfishing for skates and rays

Many bowfishing anglers enjoy hunting down rays and skates. These are perhaps the largest fish that bowfishing anglers can take. They are easily spotted as the cruise along sandy bottoms. Anglers need to be cautious when dealing with stingrays! Both skates and rays are very good eating, though a bit tricky to clean.

There is a reason that bowfishing is growing rapidly among both anglers and hunters, it combines the excitement of both sports, is easy and relatively inexpensive, and just plain fun! Give it a try, and bring the entire family along!

SHOOTING TIPS:

  1. Aim low! The refraction caused by the water distorts the view of the target. On a wide fish such as a tilapia, shooting at the bottom of the fish should result is a hit in the meat of the body. If misses continue, aim even lower.
  2. Forget about sights, most shots are short and need to be done quickly and instinctively.
  3. Polarized sunglasses are a must for daytime bowfishing. Sunscreen, hats, and insect repellents are also necessities, day or night.
  4. Identify your target to make sure it is a species that is legal to take.

TOP TARGETS:

  1. Tilapia are the best option if freshwater fish is on the menu. The filers are firm, white, and mild. They are widespread and plentiful throughout the state and grow quickly. Most common and largest is the “blue tilapia”. In saltwater, sheepshead and flounder top the list.
  2. Gar are frequently targeted when bowfishing, particularly at night. Their habit of rising to the surface makes them a prime target.
  3. Bowfin or mudfish are another species that tent to cruise just under the surface in shallow water.

Jacksonville Florida Fishing Tips

Fishing Jacksonville Florida, action and variety!

This article will share some great Jacksonville Florida fishing tips . Jacksonville is in the north east corner of Florida, near the Georgia state line. It offers anglers excellent fishing for a variety of species. The St. Mary’s River and Amelia River in Fernandina Beach are a short drive away and offer excellent fishing as well.

Jacksonville Florida fishing tips

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While Jacksonville is in Florida, it is far north enough to have four seasons. It does get cold there. Jacksonville also has a more extreme tidal range that most parts of Florida. Three feet is a “big” tide in many parts of Florida. Jacksonville will see seven feet tides on the full moon.

Anglers fishing Jacksonville Florida have three distinct environments in which to fish. They can work the tidal creeks and rivers. The downtown area of the St. Johns River and inlet offer good fishing, especially for trophy redfish. Offshore anglers target bottom fish such as grouper and snapper along with king mackerel and other pelagic species.

Fishing Ladies local pro Laura Thompson

We are fortunate to have a local expert as our Jacksonville correspondent. Laura Thompson has been fishing this area for years with her husband Shawn.

Jacksonville Florida fishing tips

“I started fishing as a child. I grew up in a rural area and had to keep myself entertained. Fortunately, we had a pond and a creek. My passion for fishing started at an early age. My husband grew up saltwater fishing. Once we bought a boat he showed me a whole new world. I have been addicted ever since!”

Fishing Jacksonville Florida tidal creeks

fishing in Jacksonville

Laura really enjoys fishing the Jacksonville area tidal creeks and rivers. This can be challenging as the tide has so much affect on fish movements. A seven foot tide changes drastically affect fish locations and feeding patterns. Understanding how tides affect fish movements is the key to success

A 7′ medium action spinning outfit works well for this “back country” style of fishing. It is light enough to cast a shrimp or light lure, but has enough muscle to turn a nice fish. A selection of jig heads, soft plastic baits, shallow diving plugs, weedless spoons, and of course hooks, split shot, and corks will fill out the tackle requirements. Here is a Penn Conflict 3000 bombo. It is a nice all-round spinning outfit for inshore fishing. Click on the link to purchase or shop.

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Let’s go through the tide cycle. Low tide will find fish in the holes and channels. As the tide rises, fish move out of the deep water and move up on the bars and flats. As the water reaches flood tide, fish will be scattered everywhere. When the tide turns, fish will reverse the process and work their way back to the deeper water. They do not want to get “stranded” on the flat with no water.

Jacksonville black drum

Redfish, sheepshead, flounder, black drum, jack crevalle, and speckled trout are the primary species that anglers will encounter when fishing Jacksonville Florida on the flats. Laura likes the lower tide stages, especially the falling tide.

Importance of tides

“Low water will concentrate the fish. On the high tide, there is just too much water to fish. Game fish will position themselves at the mouths of feeder creeks and oyster bar points that drop off into deeper water. These are natural ambush spots for predators.”

Florida fishing tips

Anglers can be successful fishing both live and artificial baits. One approach that works well is to employ both techniques. Fish can be scattered over a large area. Power fishing with search baits such as a gold weedless spoon or a shallow diving plug will allow anglers to cover a lot of water quickly. Once fish are found, slowing down and working the area thoroughly with a jig or live bait will maximize the spot.

Shrimp is king in Florida, and Jacksonville is no exception. Shrimp are available all year long and catch everything that swims. They are a great all-round bait. They can be fished under a cork or free lined with a split shot or two. Laura also has success using quarter cut blue crabs, mullet, fiddler crabs, and mud minnows. Fiddler crabs are a popular sheepshead bait. Anglers targeting flounder do well using mud minnows.

Fishing for flounder

Fishing downtown Jacksonville and inlets

The star of the St. Johns River in downtown for anglers fishing Jacksonville Florida is without a doubt bull redfish. Bull reds are giant redfish that usually school up in the river. These fish are VERY large, much bigger than the average five pound fish found in most of Florida. They are found in Fernandina Beach to the north as well.

Jacksonville Florida fishing tips

The primary technique when targeting these giant redfish is to anchor on the edges of the river channel and bottom fish with live and cut bait. Anglers need to heed boat traffic, especially in Jacksonville. Commercial and recreational boat traffic can be heavy. Bends in the channel are top spots.

Anglers need to beef up the tackle for this type of fishing. These are big fish in heavy current. Laura uses medium conventional tackle spooled with 65 pound test braided line. Here is a good, versatile Penn combo for large reds and other saltwater species, a Squall 30 click on the link to purchase or shop.

The rig consists of a 3 ounce to 12 ounce ounce sinker, depending on current, on a weight slide. A 24” 60 lb leader and a 7/0 circle hook completes the rig. Best baits are whole blue crabs, live pogies, and large cut mullet. Laura recommends the bottom of the outgoing tide, just before it turns. It is much easier to fish when the current flow eases up.

fishing for redfish in Jacksonville

Fishing downtown Jacksonville for other species

Anglers fishing the “downtown” section on the St. Johns River can experience some excellent action. While the scenery is a bit “industrial”, that does not deter from the fishing. Flounder, trout, reds, drum, jacks, sharks, and other species with take a jig and grub or live shrimp fished near docks, seawalls, bridges, and other structure.

Once again, tides are very important. The best fishing is before and after the turn of the tide. It can be difficult fishing in the middle of the tide when it is running hard. Holes are excellent ares on the low tides. Docks, seawalls, and shorelines are best on the higher tide stages.

Anglers do not need a boat to enjoy the excellent fishing the Jacksonville offers. There are many parks along the river that give access to shore bound anglers. Also, surf fishing is productive along the entire coast line around Jacksonville. This is a great resource that shows the many parks in the area that offer anglers without a boat fishing access. View these spots HERE.

Fishing Jacksonville Florida inlets

The jetties at the mouth of the St. Johns River and St Mary’s River are terrific fishing spots! They basically long artificial reefs. Abundant structure will attract redfish, black drum, speckled trout, jack crevelle, flounder, bluefish, Spanish mackerel, and more. Drifting with a live shrimp on a jig head is a good technique. Angler are discouraged from anchoring in the Jacksonville inlet.

fishing Jacksonville inlets

“Breaking” fish are often found just outside the jetty on a calm morning. Mackerel, jacks, blues, and other species can be seen feeding on the surface. In the fall, the East Coast of Florida experiences the infamous “mullet run”. Action can be incredible for these species as well as tarpon, sharks, cobia, and more.

Tarpon show up sometime in June and stay for several months. This is big game fishing and heavy spinning tackle is generally used. Anglers cast live crabs and mullet to rolling fish. Tarpon are also caught in the inlet and up the river as well.

Jacksonville Florida fishing tips

Fishing Jacksonville Florida waters in the inshore Atlantic

Anglers fishing the inshore waters of the Atlantic Ocean experience some excellent coastal fishing as well. Pelagic species such as Spanish mackerel, false albacore, king mackerel, jack crevalle, and sharks can be caught by anglers fishing within a couple miles of the beach. Spring and fall are generally the best times to fish.

One great aspect to this style of fishing is that much of it is visual. Fish are often times seen feeding ferociously on the surface. Anglers position the boat within casting range and toss jigs, plugs, and spoons into the mix. A strike is all but guaranteed! On days when fish are not “showing”, trolling spons and plugs is a great way to locate them.

Florida Spanish mackerel fishing

One really cool thing happens in early fall, the mullet run! Hordes of finger mullet migrate south along the Jacksonville beaches. Hungry game fish are right on their heels. Just about every species is liable to be encountered when working the schools of mullet. They are easy to see as large dark spots in the water. Anglers work to edges of the schools as game fish seek to pick off the strays.

Offshore fishing in Jacksonville, Florida

Jacksonville offers offshore anglers several opportunities as well. The fishing is similar to most of the Atlantic coast. Bottom fishing and trolling are the two techniques most often employed when fishing off the Jacksonville coast. The Gulf Stream is quite a way offshore, 50-70 miles or so. That is a long run, but boats that can make it catch tuna, dolphin, and wahoo. Anglers fishing

offshore fishing in Jacksonville

Bottom fishing is pretty basic. Anglers drop a live or cut bait down to the bottom on a natural ledge, artificial reef, or wreck. Shrimp, squid, sardines, and just about any live bait fish will all produce. Laura’s top offshore bottom fishing bait is squid. Anchoring, drifting, or “motor fishing” are all used to keep the boat in prime position. It all depends on the depth of the water and current sea conditions.

Grouper, snapper, triggerfish, cobia, amberjack, and other species will be caught by anglers bottom fishing. The best depth for targeting these fish are 40 Feet to 100 feet. Red snapper do tent to be caught out in deeper water that mangrove snapper and grouper.

snapper fishing in Jacksonville

Fish can be caught all year, but the best time to fish offshore in this area is fall when it starts to cool off. Grouper and snapper are closer to shore. They are found on ledges in depths between 50 feet and 75 feet deep. This is about 15 miles from shore.

Jacksonville bottom fishing spots

Here is a list of local bottom fishing spots,

Sahlman’s Gulley

GPS 30-40.07’N/ 81-09.34’W

Ponte Vedra Ground

GPS 30-12.11’N/ 81-04.52’W

Nine Mile

GPS 30-23.32’N/ 81-10.11’W

Montgomery Reef

GPS 30-26.47’N/ 81-13.12’W

Haddock’s Hideaway

GPS 30-34.03’N/ 81-08.26’W

FA

GPS 30-38.13’N/ 81-13.22’W

FC

GPS 30-36.35’N/ 81-10.35’W

Tournament Reef

GPS 30-27.47’N/ 80-55.46’W

Tanzler’s Waters

GPS 30-29.37’N/ 80-57.30’W

Amberjack Hole

GPS 30-32.49’N/ 81-03.10’W

Desco Boat

GPS 29-53.16’N/ 81-00.31’W

Blackmar’s Reef

GPS 30-21.55’N/ 80-50.05’W

Harm’s Ledge

GPS 30-22.20’N/ 80-53.52’W

Main Flagler

GPS 29-31.65’N/ 80-57.00’W

Drydock

GPS 30-07.05’N/ 80-33.25’W

Anglers trolling lures such as spoons, plugs, and skirted baits catch fish as well. King mackerel are the most targeted species. However, false albacore, tuna, dolphin, wahoo, and even billfish can be encountered, depending on the depth being fished.

Jacksonville Florida fishing

One good strategy anglers use is to employ both techniques on an offshore trip. They troll while on their way to the ledge or reef. Then, once at the destination, they can switch gears and do some bottom fishing. This is also a great way to locate new fishing spots.

In conclusion, this article on our ladies fishing Jacksonville Florida should help anglers catch more fish when in the northeast part of Florida!

Best Snook Fishing Tackle and Lures

Best Snook Fishing Tackle and Lures

This post will cover the best snook fishing tackle and lures. Snook are arguably the premier inshore game fish in Florida.

Most snook fishing tackle and lures evolved from largemouth bass fishing. The hard plastic plugs, soft plastic baits, and bladed baits used by anglers to catch snook were designed and developed by bass fisherman. This makes a lot of sense as snook are very similar in habits to largemouth bass.

Sarasota snook fishing

Capt. Jim Klopfer as a fishing guide in Sarasota Florida. He has been running fishing charter since 1991. While he pursues many different species for his clients, snook are his personal favorite. Also, while many snook can be caught by anglers using live bait, Capt. Jim prefers to cast artificial lures instead.

In this post Capt. Jim will cover the tackle and lures that he prefers to use both on his Sarasota fishing charters and for his personal use. By no means are these the only rods, reels, and lures that will produce snook! They just happen to be the ones that he has found to be effective in nearly 30 years of guiding.

Sarasota fishing excursion

Snook Fishing rods and reels

Spinning tackle is used by the majority of anglers fishing for snook. Spinning reels are easy to use and very affordable. Even novice anglers can learn to cast in a short period of time. The one downside to spinning tackle is line twist. This is due to the line turning 90° when it goes on the spool.

Sarasota river fishing charters

Many serious anglers fishing for snook opt for conventional or bait casting outfits. These are bit more difficult to use as anglers must use their thumb to keep light pressure on the spool as it revolves on a cast. Failure to do so will result in the famous “backlash” or “birds nest”. However, these reels provide more power as the line is wound straight onto the spool. Bait casting outfits are perfect for anglers casting heavier lures such as plugs.

Best Snook fishing spinning combinations

Capt Jim uses a couple different spinning outfits for his snook fishing. His favorite outfit is a Penn Confict 3000 reel on a St Croix 6’6” rod. This is a great all round combo that is light enough to cast lures all day without causing fatigue, yet heavy enough to muscle a big fish away from structure. This outfit retails for around $300.

The other spinning outfit that Capt. Jim uses is a Penn fierce 3000 reel on a 6’6″ Shimano Convergence rod. This is a fine outfit at a reasonable price, retailing for around $130. The main difference between the two is the weight, the Conflict/St.Croix set up is significantly lighter and is of better quality. However, either outfit will be fine for anglers casting artificial lures for snook.

Best baitcasting outfit for snook fishing

The number one bait casting real used by anglers casting lures inshore and saltwater environments is a Shimano Calcutta combo in the 200B size. It is matched to a 7’6″ medium fast action SLX rod.

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A less expensive option is a Kastking combo with a Spartacus reel and Perigee II medium fast rod.

Best line and leader for snook fishing

Capt Jim uses 20 pound Suffix braid on his spinning outfits. 40 pound braided line is a choice on bait casting rigs. He feels that braided line is required as snook are often times hooked in or near heavy cover such as docs, bridges, and mangrove trees.

As seasoned snook anglers are aware, a shock leader is required for this type of fishing. Snook do not have teeth, but do have a very sharp gill plates. Therefore a 2 foot section of fluorocarbon leader is used between the lure and the running line. 40 pound test is a good all-around size, though Capt. Jim will drop it down to 30 pound test if the water is clear and the snook seem a bit skittish.

Top snook fishing lures

Capt Jim only uses a handful of artificial lures for his snook fishing. These are the Rapala X-Rap Slashbait, Rapala Skitter Prop, Bass Assassin soft plastics, Gulp baits, Strike King Redfish Spinnerbait, and a half ounce gold Johnson Silver Minnow spoon.

fishing for snook

Rapala Saltwater X-Rap Slashbait

The Rapala Saltwater X-Rap Slashbait is by far Capt. Jim’s favorite bait when seeking snook. It is a fun lure to fish and is very productive, it will elicit some exciting strikes!

The #8 X-Rap is often used by Capt. Jim for fishing the inshore waters. It is a smallish bait but has excellent hooks and closely imitates the 2 inch to 3 inch forage that is most often found in Sarasota Bay where he fishes. Pilchard and Ghost (white) are his two favorite patterns. White works very well in clear water. Pilchard or olive is a great all round choice as it closely resembles both greenbacks and finger mullet.

This lure will dive down around 3 feet. That makes it an excellent choice for fishing the shallower flats on a high tide. It is also an effective lure for fishing out on the beach in the summer time. Anglers snook fishing around docs and residential canals will catch them in winter as well.

Fishing with the #10 X-Rap

If larger bait is present, Capt. Jim will bump up to a #10 X-Rap. This lure is identical to the other, just a bit larger. It will dive down five or 6 feet. The same colors are productive in the inshore waters. Capt. Jim does do a lot of snuck fishing and brackish rivers. Gold is the best color in these tannin stained waters, with pilchard being his second choice.

Rapala X-Raps are in the family of baits known as jerk baits. They have a very erratic action and the water which simulates a wounded bait fish. The best retrieve is a sharp twitch or two with a pause in between. The pauses is important is that is often times when the snook strikes. This is also an effective lure for anglers trolling and rivers and residential canals.

Rapala Skitter Prop

The Rapala Skitter Prop is Capt. Jim’s favorite top water plug. The single propeller on the rear puts out a lot of commotion and will draw snook and other game fish up to the surface. One reason he prefers this bait over the popular “walk the dog”baits such as the zero spook is that it is easier for clients to master quickly. This plug has a lot of built in action.

saltwater fishing with artificial lures

Fishing this lure is very easy. Anglers simply cast it towards some likely structure, let it settle, then twitch the rod tip sharply. The lure is allowed to rest a few seconds then this is repeated. One important note is that anglers need to wait until the weight of the fish is felt before setting the hook. Often times anglers see the surface explosion and jerk the rod. This will result in the fish being messed and a lore with multiple treble hooks flying back towards the boat.

Bass Assassin soft plastic baits

Bass Assassin makes a fantastic line of soft plastic baits in our Capt. Jim’s preferred choice. The 4 inch see Shad is a great all round paddle tail bait. It comes in a myriad of colors and puts out a good vibration. Capt. Jim’s to favorite colors are glow/chartreuse and new penny. These are rigged on a 1/8 or 1/4 ounce jig head depending on the water depth and current.

This is a versatile lure that can be worked in several different ways. The most effective retrieve is generally to hop it along the bottom and allow it to fall naturally. This imitates a wounded baitfish and will draw strikes from snook. Anglers can also crawl along the bottom when grass is not present or swim it steadily back to the boat.

Gulp! Jerk Shad

Gulp! baits are extremely effective for snook. While this is a soft plastic bait technically, it is heavenly scented. This can really make a difference on a tough day. Capt. Jim rigs that on a jig head just as he would other soft plastic baits is top producer is the Gulp 6 inch Jerk Shad with white being the top color.

Strike King Redfish Spinnerbait

The Strike King Redfish Spinnerbait is an excellent lure for snook as well as redfish. It is one of the few spinner baits made specifically for saltwater applications. This bait has a large gold blade which puts out a nice vibration, weighing 1/4 ounce. It also has a 4 inch Shad tail grub on the hook. Anglers can quickly and easily change the color of the grub.

One of the beauties of this bait is it has a ton of built in action. This makes it a great choice for novice or inexperienced anglers. It is heavy and casts a mile. All anglers need to do is retrieve it in a steady manner and they will catch fish. It works well around structure such as fallen trees and does not hang up very often. It is a great search bait on the open flats.

1/2 ounce gold Johnson Silver Minnow spoon

The last of Capt. Jim’s favorite snook fishing lures is the venerable Johnson Silver minnow in the gold color and 1/2 ounce size. This bait has been around for decades and has accounted for untold numbers of largemouth bass and snook. It is a fantastic search bait when fishing the open flats as it will run in very shallow water with the grassy bottom without hanging up. As an added benefit, it is a top redfish bait as well.

This is one situation where Capt. Jim does use a snap swivel. While he feels that this snap swivel impairs the action on other Lors, it is necessary in order to avoid line twist when using a spoon. The lore is very simple to use. Anglers simply cast it out and reel it back in steadily with a few twitches and pauses in between.

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Summertime snook fishing tips

Snook have a very distinct seasonal migration. They spawn out on the beaches and in the inshore Gulf of Mexico and Atlantic Ocean May through September. Many snook will stay in the inlets and passes as well. They find the deep water, good current flow, and abundant structure quite attractive.

fishing for snook

Late spring and early summer are great times to catch a trophy snook in the passes and inlets. They are bunched up and relatively large schools in a pretty small area. While artificial lures will produce, live bait works best in this situation. Live shrimp, pin fish, grunts, mullet, and large scaled sardines are the top baits. Most anglers anchor and cast the baits out near docks and rocky shorelines.

Snook are sight fished off of the Florida beaches. This is great sport, especially on a fly rod. Snook can be seen cruising right in the surf line just inches from shore. They are bit spooky and a quiet presentation is required. This is part of what makes fly fishing so effective. Small white buck tail jigs, small plugs, and small white flies are the top lures. Anglers can go fairly light on the tackle as there is very little structure for the fish to break off on.

Fall snook fishing

After the spawn as fall arrives and water temperatures begin to cool, snook will move out of the passes, inlets, and off the beaches. They will spread out into the inshore waters to feed. Fall is an excellent time to target snook. Flats and structure in the inshore bays will hold good numbers of snook.

Anglers who enjoy bass fishing and casting lures will find fall snook fishing appealing. Top water and shallow diving plugs, soft plastic baits, and weedless spoons are the top lures. Mangrove shorelines, docks, and oyster bars are prime spots. Anglers can cover a lot of water and a lot of likely looking spots using artificial lures. It can also produce some very exciting strikes!

fishing for snook

One deadly technique this time of year is to chum using live bait. This is a bit of a specialized technique. It requires a large bait well, good pump, and a large cast net and the ability to throw it. Once the angler has several hundred 2 inch to 3 inch baits in the well, the boat is anchored up in a likely spot. A few of the live baits are tossed out unhooked to attract snook up behind the boat. Once they are attracted and excited, they are usually fairly easy to catch using hooked live baits. This is a great opportunity for an angler who is less skilled and experienced to catch snook.

Winter snook fishing

Every winter is different in Florida. If the winter is mild, snook will remain on the flats all year long. However, a severe cold snapper to will push them up into residential canals, rivers, and creeks. Snook are a tropical species and cannot tolerate water temperature below 58° for very long. These canals and creeks are warmer and offer snook a refuge from the exposed open bays.

Countless miles of residential canals provide sanctuary for snook in the winter. Casting or trolling artificial lures allows anglers to cover a lot of water quickly. Shallow diving baits such as the Rapala X Rap work very well. A 5 inch or 6 inch soft plastic swim bait on a light jig is another effective bait. Large live shrimp can be deadly once a productive area is located.

Snook on a jig

As it starts to warm up in spring, snook will move out of their winter haunts and spread back out onto the flats and inshore waters. This fishing is a lot like the fall fishing. Both artificial lures and live baits will be effective. There is one difference however, normally the large scaled sardines have not arrived yet. Once they do, live bait chumming again becomes a very effective technique.

River Snook Fishing

Many anglers visit Florida with the hopes of catching a big snook. River snook fishing gives them that opportunity. Snook are the premier inshore game fish in Florida. They are caught year round in the southern half of the state on both coasts.

Snook move into rivers to spend the winter. They do this to escape the harsh conditions on the open, shallow flats. Rivers concentrate the fish, making them easier to locate and catch. Anglers also have protection from the winter wind.

Snook make a distinct seasonal migration. In the cooler months, snook migrate up into area creeks, rivers, and residential canals. This is especially true if it has been unseasonable cold. They do this to escape the temperature extremes of the exposed flats.

River snook can tolerate fresh water

Snook can tolerate a wide range of salinity levels and can live in fresh water. They are one of the few fish species that migrate into fresh water for reasons other than spawning. These areas are fertile with both freshwater and saltwater fish that the snook and other game fish can feed on.

Florida river waters are dark and most have deep holes. This results in the water temperature being significantly warmer than the nearby bays. Here on the west coast of Florida where I live, the Manatee River, Myakka River, Peace River, and the Caloosahatchee rivers all have winter snook migrations.

There are several aspects of river snook fishing that I find appealing. The scenery is stunning! It is also easy and relaxing fishing. Anglers ease down the river with the current, casting lures towards the shoreline cover. It is quiet and serene. Most rivers are “No Wake Zones”. Gators, birds, and other wildlife is seen. Rivers also offer protection on windy days.

River snook fishing lures

I prefer casting artificial lures when river fishing. Lures allow anglers to cover a lot of water in a relatively short amount of time. Anglers will normally be more productive covering as much of the river as possible. The best spots in a river are almost always the outside bends. These spots usually have a deep hole created by the current along with submerged cover.

Plugs are great lures for anglers river snook fishing. They cast well and run at a good depth. Shallow diving plugs will dive down three to five feet, yet run above the submerged cover. They elicit reaction strikes and the hook-up ratio is good. Anglers can cover a lot of water with these lures. They are also effective when trolled.

Rapala plugs produce when river snook fishing

My favorite lure for snook fishing in rivers is the #10 Rapala BX Minnow in gold or firetiger. There are plenty of fine plug manufacturers as well, and they will all produce river snook. The plug is cast out and retrieved in using an erratic retrieve with sharp “twitches” and a pause. Snook will often hit on the pause as the plug sits there motionless. Also, fish the lure all the way back, strikes often come right at the boat!

Topwater plugs can also produce some nice snook. Anglers will do best when the water temperature is a bit warmer. The beginning and end of the season are good times to use topwater plugs. I prefer prop baits such as the Rapala Skitterprop. They give off a good deal of commotion while sitting fairly motionless.

Spinnerbaits and soft plastic baits

Soft plastic baits also are effective baits in rivers. They are a better choice once a productive area is located and anglers want to slow down and work the area thoroughly. However, they do hang up more often. 5” to 6” swim baits on a 1/16 ounce jig head or a swim bait hook work well. Dark colors work best with “Golden bream” being a proven color. These can be reeled in slowly and steadily or with a more erratic retrieve.

Spinnerbaits produce snook and bass in rivers as well. Gold single blade baits work best in the darker water. The bait can have a skirt or swim bait type trailer. Both are effective. Spinnerbaits are a great choice for less experienced anglers. The bait is cast out and just reeled in with a steady retrieve. They are also very weedless. The hook-up ratio is good with the large, single hook.

Fly fishing for snook

River snook fishing gives fly anglers a great opportunity to catch a large snook on fly. Short, easy casts are the norm. The fly is cast out, allowed to sink, and stripped back in. 9wt outfits work best as anglers will need to horse fish out of heavy cover cover. Bait fish patterns such as a Clouser Minnow and Puglisi fly work well. Gold/black is a good color pattern, as is white and bright bluegill imitations.

It is very important when fly fishing for river snook to float with the current. Anglers going against the current will get a “belly” in the line almost immediately. This results in a very unnatural fly presentation. There will also be a bunch of slack line when a take does occur. This will make getting tight on the fish difficult.

Anglers should drift with the current when river snook fishing

The fishing technique is pretty basic. Anglers drift with the current, whether it is river or tidal, and cast the lures towards the shoreline. This fishing has a “freshwater” feel to it. As mentioned earlier, outside bends in the river are the prime spots. In fact, anglers should choose stretches of the river that are winding and twisting. Long, straight stretches are generally less productive.

Tides are a critical factor when river snook fishing, but it can be tricky as the tide tables have no correction for that far upriver. The best approach is to add a couple hours to the closest posted tide times, but only experience will give an angler the tide correction factors. Outgoing tides are preferred as the river current and tide current will be going in the same direction.

Trolling for river snook

Trolling is another easy technique that allows anglers to cover a lot of water and help to locate snook. Plugs are perfect for this, they float on the surface then dive down several feet. This is a proven technique for anglers in canals on the east coast of Florida. It is fairly easy and productive.

It is best to troll with the current where possible. The lure is let out a hundred feet behind the boat. Then, the boat is idled along at a slow speed. Strikes will be unmistakable! It is surprising how many large snook will be caught right out in the middle. Ledges and contour changes that are not visible will hold snook. Trolling is a great way to catch them.

Weather influences river fishing

Weather can have a huge influence when river snook fishing. The best time to fish is just as a front approaches. Cloud cover and bit of light rain are perfect conditions. Conversely, post front conditions are tough. Anglers encountering a blue bird sky and north east winds will have to earn their fish.

Another enjoyable aspect of river snook fishing is that other species will fall for the same lures and tactics. Largemouth bass in particular are often caught. Here in Sarasota, the Manatee River and Myakka River both have lakes that overflow. These push bass into the tidal portions of the river.

Other fish species will be taken as well. Juvenile tarpon, jack crevelle, redfish, catfish, and gar are some of the species that will hit a plug or jig meant for a snook. Anglers should check with the FWC for current Florida fishing regulations.  So, if you are looking for something a bit different, maybe even “Old school”, give river snook fishing a try!

In conclusion, this article on the best snook tackle and lures will help anglers choose their gear and catch more of these terrific game fish!

 

Best 7 River Smallmouth Fishing Lures

Best 7 River Smallmouth Fishing Lures

We will list the top six River smallmouth bass fishing lures in this article. Many anglers enjoy chasing smallmouth bass and rivers. While live bait produces plenty of fish, the majority of anglers opt to use artificial lures.

best 7 river smallmouth fishing lures

The best 7 River smallmouth fishing lures are the #8 Rapala X-Rap Slashbait, the Rebel Middle Wee Craw, the Heddon Tiny Topedo, the 4 inch green pumpkin Senko, 3″ Mister Twister, a 1/8 ounce rooster tail spinner, and a 1/4 ounce Beetlespin spinner bait. These seven baits will produce smallmouth bass and rivers throughout the country.

Best river smallmouth fishing rod and reel

Light spinning tackle is the best choice for anglers fishing rivers for smallmouth bass. The lures are light and light line and tackle in required to cast them. Also, rivers run clear and low in summer and early fall. Light tackle will elicit the most strikes.

A 6 ½ foot light spinning rod with a 2000 series reel and 6 pound monofilament line is a great all-round combination. Anglers can bump the line up to 8 pound test in the spring when the water is higher and has some color. Conversely, dropping down to 4 pound test might be required in extremely low water.

Here is a nice combination at a reasonable price. The 2000 6’6″ medium light outfit is perfect for most river smallmouth fishing. Click on the image to shop.

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List of best 7 river smallmouth fishing lures

Here is my list of the best 7 river smallmouth fishing lures. Smallmouth residing in rivers are not as fussy as fish in lakes can be. Anglers can keep it simple with this selection of lures.

1) #8 Rapala X-Rap Slashbait

Number one on the list of the top seven River smallmouth bass fishing lures is the #8 Rapala X-Rap Slashbait. This is a terrific bait for catching smallmouth bass anywhere, but particularly in rivers. It is in the family of lures that anglers term “jerk baits”. It floats at rest and dives down two or 3 feet below the surface upon retrieve. This puts the lure in the strike zone yet in most cases keeps it working above the submerged rocky bottom.

Virginia river fishing tips

This lure has a very erratic action which will trigger a strike from smallmouth bass. The most productive retrieve is to cast it out towards a likely looking spot. With the rod tip low and near the surface of the water, the lure is brought back in using sharp jerks. After a hard jerk, angler should point the rod tip right at the bait. This will put slack in the line and cause the bait to hover there motionless. This realistically imitates a wounded and helpless bait fish and will draw reaction strikes from smallmouth bass.

The best color to use will depend on river conditions. Light-colored work best in clear water while darker colors work better in stained water. White and olive are good all-around choices. These lures work best in a slow to medium current. They will hang up if used in very shallow water.

2) Rebel Middle Wee Crawfish

The Rebel Middle Wee Craw is number two on the list of the top seven River smallmouth bass fishing lures. Is a time proven bait in a bit of a legend among experienced smallmouth bass River anglers. It comes in a half dozen colors, and all of them are productive. Once again, light colors work best in clear water while darker colors work best in stained or dark water.

bass fishing

The Rebel Middle Wee Craw will float at rest then dive down upon retrieve. The idea is to get it down near the bottom and even bouncing off the rocks on occasion. Once that gets near the bottom, the lure is retrieved with short hard twitches, a bit less aggressively than a jerk bait. This will realistically mimic a fleeing crayfish.

It is best to use the Rebel Crawfish in the slower, deeper pools and holes. It will tend to turn sideways and heavy current and will also snag the bottom in shallow water. The Middle Wee Craw is extremely effective when worked over submerged rocky ledges and boulders and 3 foot of water to 5 foot of water.

3) Heddon Tiny Torpedo

The Heddon Tiny Torpedo is number three on the list of the top seven River smallmouth bass fishing lures. This is a top water plug. It has a tapered nose and a propeller on the rear. It is the perfect size bait for River smallmouth and is another tried-and-true producer of smallmouth bass in rivers.

best 7 river smallmouth fishing lures

Top water baits are very easy to use and are a lot of fun to fish! The angler simply casts the lure out to a likely looking spot and then retrieves it with sharp twitches of the rod and a pause in between. Often times, the smallmouth bass will attack it as it sits there motionless.

It is important that when a fish strikes this lure the angler wait until the weight of the fish is felt before setting the hook. Otherwise, the lure and it’s treble hooks can come flying back towards the angler. Since the Tiny Torpedo is a top water bait and virtually 100% snag proof, it can be used in any depth of water. However, it will not be very effective in fast current.

4) 4″ Yamamoto Senko

The 4 inch Yamamoto Senko is a fantastic bait that will catch a variety of species and just about any environment. It is an extremely effective lure when pursuing river smallmouth bass. The soft plastic lures are in the family of what many anglers call “finesse baits”. That means that anglers do not need to impart a lot of action.

Oklahoma smallmouth bass

In open water, these can be rigged on an open hook. However, since most productive smallmouth bass rivers have rocks and other cover, anglers either use a weedless hook or Texas rigged the worm on a 1/0 worm hook. This bait can be effective in both the deeper pools and the faster running water.

In the slower, deeper pools, the bait is simply dragged slowly across the bottom. The Senko is very supple and will have a very lifelike action and the water. Less really is more when fishing this bait. Anglers can slide on a very small 1/8 ounce sliding sinker if necessary. In swift water, the bait is cast out into the deeper runs and just allowed to sweep downstream in the current. Little or no action is needed by the angler.

5) 3″ Mister Twister

The simple yet extremely effective jig is bait number five on the list of the top seven River smallmouth bass fishing lures. A jig bouncing erratically off the bottom is an excellent imitation of a crayfish. The most popular combination when fishing rivers for smallmouth is a 1/8 ounce round black head with a 2 inch to 3 inch root beer or green body. Chartreuse is very productive as well.

The jig and grub combo is very easy to use. And calm her slack water, the lure is cast out towards shoreline cover or submerged rocks are ledges. It is allowed to sink to the bottom then retrieved back in using a series of short hops. Each time the jig head hits the bottom it kicks up a puff of sand or dirt, realistically mimicking a crayfish. Anglers can swim it back using a steady retrieve to imitate a minnow.

Manitoba smallmouth bass fishing

Jigs can be fished in swift water as well. The best approach is to cast 90° and then let the bait work downstream with the current while the angler keeps the tip up and gives the jig just a little bit of action. Anglers will not need to impart too much action as the jig will look very natural just floating with the current. Anglers should use just enough to keep the jig up out of the rocks of possible.

These lures are fairly inexpensive to use. That is a good thing as many will be lost in a day of fishing for smallmouth in rocky streams. Serious anglers buy the jig heads and the grub bodies and bulk. This results in them being around $.50 or so per bait.

1/6 ounce Roostertail spinner

A 1/6 ounce rooster tail spinner is number six on the list of top seven River smallmouth bass fishing lures. This is a very simple lure that will catch just about every species that swims. Anglers that fish rivers with trout in them use Roostertails as they will produce trout as well as bass.

Roostertails are very simple and easy to use. They work best in shallow stretches of the river with a little current. Anglers simply cast across the stream and reel it in as slowly as possible using a steady retrieve. It is a good idea to give it an initial twitch to get the blade spinning. The flashing blade and vibration along with the colorful tail will draw a lot of strikes!

There are many different Roostertail colors to select from. Generally, white with a silver blade works well on bright, sunny days in clear water. A gold blade with a bright green/pink body works great on cloudy days or in stained water. In all honesty, every color will produce fish. It will snag occasionally but not too bad.

1/4 ounce Beetlespin

A 1/4 ounce spinner bait is an extremely effective lure for smallmouth bass and other species. It is #7 on the list of the best 7 river smallmouth fishing lures. 148 ounce is a good all round size, though anglers can drop down to 1/8 ounce if the water is low and clear. Silver blades and a 2” white, green, rootbeer or black grub work well in most rivers.

The beauty of these lures is that they can be used in both fast and slow water and rarely hang up. The design of the lure keeps the hook out of harms way. The grub tail can be easily changed. Like the inline spinners, spinnerbaits work best with a slow, steady retrieve.

River smallmouth fishing lures; techniques and locations

While smallmouth bass are found in lakes, many anglers associate smallmouth bass fishing with rivers. Tactics for pursuing smallmouth bass and rivers are a bit different than when fishing in lakes. Generally speaking, the river fishing experience is more relaxed and less complicated. Anglers mostly wade or drift in small boats.

smallmouth bass fishing

One great advantage to fishing for smallmouth bass and rivers is that fish are much easier to locate. In the confines of a river, likely fish holding spots are much easier to identify as opposed to a large open body of water. Depth is pretty much a non factor as most smallmouth rivers are fairly shallow.

The ideal River habitat for smallmouth bass are rivers with cool, clear water and a lot of gravel and rocks. Smallmouth bass love rocks! Boulders and rocky ledges provide refuge from the current. Smallmouth bass and other game fish will stage in these eddies waiting in ambush. They can dart out into the current to feed while not expending a lot of energy.

Smallmouth bass love rocks!

Rocks have another attraction when it comes to smallmouth bass as well; crayfish! These are the preferred forage of smallmouth bass in both lakes and rivers. They are high in protein and fairly easy to catch. Many of the artificial lures used to catch smallmouth are designed to mimic a crayfish.

fishing in rivers for smallmouth bass

There is one big disadvantage when it comes to rocks, and that is snags. That is one reason why the best seven River smallmouth bass fishing lures are bit different than those used in lakes. Most rivers are shallow and rocky and baits that are dragged along the bottom will snag.

As mentioned above, one advantage to fishing for smallmouth bass and rivers is that likely spots are easy to identify. Unlike trout, smallmouth will rarely be right in the swiftest current. Instead, they will find an eddy or bit of slack water where they can rest comfortably without expending a lot of energy yet be in a prime position to feed.

Areas that hold smallmouth bass in rivers

These highly productive spots include holes or pools where the river slows down and increases in depth. These polls between riffles are prime spots for smallmouth bass, particularly if fallen trees and rocks are present. Often times there will be holes in the slack water area right behind a large boulder. These are prime spots as well.

Smallmouth bass fishing for beginners

Outside bends in the river channel are smallmouth bass hotspots! Debris that washes downstream such as fallen timber will tend to collect in these areas. Often times, the water is deeper as well as the current gouges out a whole. Many of the spots also have an undercut bank. Anglers River smallmouth fishing should never overlook these outside bends.

The heads and tails of pools and riffles can also be good spots to try for smallmouth bass. Anglers will often times find that the smaller fish are found in these shallow waters with a bit a current. While not large, they are great fun on light tackle and can liven up a slow morning.

In conclusion, this article on the best 7 river smallmouth fishing lures will help anglers catch more fish!

How to catch saltwater fish with jigs

How to catch saltwater fish with jigs

This article will teach anglers how to catch saltwater fish with jigs. Jigs are a very simple yet incredible effective artificial lure.

how to catch saltwater fish with jigs

There is evidence to suggest that jigs were the first artificial lure used to catch fish. A jig is simply a hook with a shaped, weighted head at the front. It then has some type of body made of plastic or hair. The weight at the eye of the hook gives the lure an erratic jigging motion. Thus the name. The body of the jig can resemble a crustacean such as crabs and shrimp along with bait fish. While normally fished on the bottom, jigs can also be used throughout the entire water column.

how to catch saltwater fish using jigs

Jig fishing rods and reels

There really is no one best outfit for jig fishing. The conditions and applications vary too much. A 6 1/2 foot-7 foot spinning outfit is a great choice for fishing with fairly light jigs in relatively shallow water. Anglers can spool this up with 10 pound monofilament or braided line. This rig is light enough to be cast all day yet has enough beef to handle a decent fish.

Spanish mackerel and false albacore fishing tips

I have been a fishing guide in Sarasota, Florida since 1991. Anglers who are interested in purchasing the equipment that I use and write about in my articles can do so HERE on the PRODUCTS page.

Light conventional tackle is used quite often when vertically jigging. Often times heavy jigs will be required in strong current. Light conventional outfits give anglers the power they need to work the jig and fight a decent flounder or striped bass. These same outfits work very well for trolling. A 7′ medium heavy rod spooled up with 20 pound braided line is a great combo.

fishing report for Sarasota, Florida

Jig types

There are primarily two different types of jigs; buck tail jigs and soft plastic jigs. Soft plastic jigs are by far the most popular these days. They are economical and versatile. Jig head waits can be matched with plastic body shapes, colors, and sizes to mimic just about any forage that fish feed on. Bucktail jigs are still very effective on a variety of fish species and many anglers still prefer them. However, they are not as durable as soft plastic baits and are more expensive to use in the long run.

Lake Murray striped bass

Soft plastic bodies come in many different shapes, sizes, and colors. However, there really are only two different styles. Grub bodies with a flat tail are meant to mimic shrimp and other crustaceans. Shad tail and curly tail jigs mimic bait fish. It really is that simple! Anglers should purchase grub bodies and sizes and colors that resemble the locally available forage.

Buck tail jigs actually do a very good job of imitating both crustaceans and bait fish. White is by far the most popular color, though pink and chartreuse are sought by anglers in some areas. A 1/2 ounce white buck tail jig has caught a lot of fish over the years and remains an extremely effective bait to this day. Anglers can even add a soft plastic trailer to the buck tail jig, such as a curly tail worm. This is very effective on striped bass.

The jig and grub is a very versatile fishing lure

One great thing about the jig and grub combo is how quickly and easily baits can be changed. Anglers can switch from a grub body that imitates a shrimp to one that mimics a bait fish in just a few seconds. Jig heads are available in a myriad of sizes, shapes, and colors. The same is true for the soft plastic grub bodies. Anglers can put together combinations that are effective in their area. I personally prefer the Bass Assassin line of baits. They have fantastic action and come in many different colors. The 4 inch Sea Shad on a 1/4 ounce jig head is my favorite combination.

saltwater fishing with jigs

 

Anglers can certainly get confused by the vast selection of jig heads and tails that are available. Local tackle shops are usually a good source of information as to productive lures in that area. Anglers starting out will do well with jig heads in one quarter ounce, 1/2 ounce and 1 ounce heads along with 3 inch to 4 inch shad tail grubs. Pearl, chartreuse, hot pink, root beer, and olive are good all-around colors.

Jig head weights, shapes, and sizes

In most fishing applications, anglers work jigs on or very close to the bottom. As the jig is bounced up and down, the weight it had will often kick up a puff of sand as it lands. This looks very realistic to game fish as it mimics a fleeing shrimp or crab.the weight of the jig required will vary depending on fishing conditions. Water depth and current speed are the two primary factors to consider. Ideally, anglers will use just enough weight to reach the bottom.

inshore saltwater fishing

Jig heads come in a variety of shapes as well. Round or oblong heads are the most popular shapes. These have the eye of the hook 90 degrees to the shank. This results in a more horizontal presentation. Triangular shaped heads cut through the water and are a better choice for anglers choosing to troll with jigs. Jigs that are designed to be fished shallow have a tapered head with the eye at the front. This allows it to go through weeds more easily.

One quarter ounce jig heads are very popular in Florida where I run my Sarasota fishing charters. Most of the water I fish is 10 feet deep or less and currents are not very strong. however, anglers fishing in areas where water is deeper and currents are stronger will need to use heavier jigs. Jigs of several ounces will be required at times, especially when fishing inlets and passes on a swift tide.

How to catch saltwater fish with jigs, jig Fishing Techniques

fishing for flounder with jigs

Vertically jigging

Jigs are a very versatile lures that can be fished in a variety of ways. One of the easiest and most productive methods is to fish a jig vertically while drifting. Anglers motor the boat upwind and up current of the area to be fished. Then, the jig is lowered straight down to the bottom. Once it hits the bottom, the line is real taught and then the jig is jerked sharply up off the bottom and then allowed to fall on a slack line. This motion is continued as the boat drifts along. This is a fantastic way to cover a lot of water and keep the lure in the productive strike zone the entire time.

This is a proven method to catch a variety of fish species. Anglers fishing in the Northeast will catch flounder, fluke, striped bass, bluefish, and other species. Vertically jigging will produce fish in the southern states as well, including speckled trout, pompano, bluefish, Spanish mackerel, and more. Anglers fishing offshore will use special jigs that are quite heavy. They get down to the bottom in deep water and are jerked sharply, imitating a wounded bait fish. These are called “flutter jigs” and are extremely effective on a variety of species. Heavy bucktail and soft plastic jigs can be used as well.

Chesapeake Bay Bridge striped bass

In some circumstances, anglers will combine live or cut bait with the jig. This combination can be extremely effective! Flounder and fluke in particular are prone to take a white buck tail jig with a squid strip trailer. The same goes for a soft plastic jig tipped with a piece of shrimp in the south. The extra scent of the bait along with the action of the jig can prove irresistible. This can be particularly effective when the water is stained.

Casting jigs

Jigs can be cast out and retrieved back in as well. This is a very common Lee used method by anglers when drifting the flats. The term flats means a broad area of fairly uniform depth, usually between five and 15 feet deep. The jig is cast out and allowed to settle. It is then retrieved back to the boat using a series of hops. With the rod tip at 10 o’clock, the angler jerks the rod tip up sharply to about 12 o’clock. The jig is then allowed to fall on a tight line. This is important as it will allow anglers to feel the strike, which most often occurs on the fall.

Spotted sea trout fishing

As with all artificial lure fishing, anglers will do best to very the retrieve until a productive pattern emerges. Some days of fish will want the jig crawled along the bottom while on other days they will want a faster more erratic retrieve. The same premise applies to jig body sizes and colors. Anglers should experiment until they achieve success. Generally speaking, light colors work best in clear water, dark colors work best in stained water, and bright colors work best in muddy water.

In the southeastern part of the United States along the Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico coast, this is the most popular technique when using artificial lures. The jig and grub combo is a very effective bait for redfish and speckled trout. These are the most plentiful and sought after fish species, along with flounder, that are found on the open flats. Casting lures while drifting in a boat allows anglers to cover a lot of water. It is also a productive method for anglers fishing from shore and wading.

Top Florida saltwater game fish

Vary the retrieve when fishing with jigs

There will be times when fish will respond to a much faster retrieve. This is particularly true when fish are seen feeding on the surface. Often times when this occurs, a fast, steady retrieve works best. If that does not produce, add in some hard jerks and pauses. When fish are feeding high in the water column, this will generally produces strike. Bluefish, striped bass, Spanish mackerel, jack crevalle, and ladyfish are species that are commonly found feeding on the surface

saltwater fishing with artificial lures

 

Jigs are also very effective when cast towards shoreline cover. Jetties, docks, oyster bars, and shoreline timber will all hold fish. This type of fishing is very much like freshwater fishing for largemouth bass. The angler cast the lure toward some likely fish holding structure, allows it to sink a few seconds, then retrieve it back in an erratic manner. Since many saltwater fish species relate to cover and structure, this type of fishing will produce a wide variety of fish.

Trolling with jigs

Trolling is another extremely effective technique that anglers can use with jigs. This can be done as simply as putting a few lines out behind the boat and slowly driving around at just above idle speed. It is important when trolling with jigs to keep the speed down. Unlike spoons and plugs, jigs will tend to twist and roll if trolled to quickly. Serious anglers often times use special trolling weights and even wire line to get the jigs down to the preferred depth.

how to catch saltwater fish with jigs

Umbrella rigs are quite popular with anglers who like trolling with jigs. These are clever devices that allow anglers to use multiple baits at one time. The theory is that it resembles a small school of bait fish that are swimming by. Whatever the intent, umbrella rigs work. Striped bass in particular fall prey to these ingenious devices.

How to catch saltwater fish with jigs, fishing for pompano with jigs

Pompano and jig fishing go together. They feed primarily on crustaceans right on the bottom.

Many anglers enjoy fishing for pompano. They are found along the Gulf of Mexico coast and up the Atlantic coast to North Carolina. They fight very hard for their size and are fantastic eating!

jig fishing for pompano

Pompano average a couple of pounds. However, they put up a terrific fight for their size. These smaller cousins to the permit use their broad sides and forked tails to pull very hard. Pompano feed on the bottom, normally on crustaceans such as shrimp and crabs. They range from Texas along the US coast as far north as Cape Hatteras in North Carolina. Pompano are prized as table fare by anglers. Jigs, live shrimp and sand fleas are the top baits.

One look at a pompano will clue anglers as to their feeding habits. The mouth is small and “inferior”, meaning it is behind the nose. It feeds by using that hard nose to root in the bottom in search of crabs and shrimp. It then vacuums up the prey. Pompano will be found over sandy bottoms, grassy bottoms and around rocky structure. All of these areas hold the forage that they feed on.

Pompano fishing tackle

As in most inshore saltwater applications, the same rod and reel used to target speckled trout, Spanish mackerel, and other species will work fine when targeting pompano. As these fish do not grow too large, a light spinning outfit is perfect. A 6 1/2 foot medium action rod with a 2500-3000 series reel and 10 pound monofilament or 20 pound braided line is perfect.

Sarasota fishing charters

Jig fishing for pompano

The top artificial lure by far is the jig. A jig is a hook with a piece of lead molded near the eye. The hook is then dressed with either natural or synthetic hair or a plastic grub body of some sort. Anglers fishing for pompano work the jig right on the bottom. Each time it hits the bottom it kicks up a tiny puff of sand. This mimics a fleeing crab or shrimp and is a very effective presentation.

Pompano have fairly small mouths. Anglers drifting the flats and inlets and passes will catch pompano on the larger jigs meant for speckled trout and other species. Therefore, anglers fishing for pompano specifically generally scale down the size of the lure.

Florida pompano fishing

There are several types of jigs on the market specifically designed for pompano. There are two types, the ball head jig and the banana jig. Ball head jigs are basically smaller versions of a buck tail jig. It will have a round head with a smaller hook, around a size #4. The dressing will normally be synthetic and will be trimmed close, just beyond the bend of the hook. These jig sink very quickly and are great choice when fishing passes and inlets. They can also be cast out by anglers fishing for pompano on the flats.

Banana jigs are odd looking little lures. As the name implies, they are long and slender with a bend in them, looking a bit like a banana. Some also have a little fly attached to add some flash. They have a very erratic action when falling. Anglers can work them either vertically or casting out by jerking the rod tip up and letting the jig falls sharply to the bottom.

top 8 Sarasota fish species

Pompano locations and seasons

Pompano are found along the beaches, in passes and inlets, and on the flats. Generally speaking, the flats closest to the open waters of the Gulf and Atlantic are best. Inlets on the East Coast and passes on the West Coast are also prime spots for anglers fishing for pompano. Many fish are caught by anglers surf fishing as well.

Pompano are found in Florida all year long. The cooler months are best, but the occasional fish can be caught at any time. As it warms up, the fish will move north along the east coast. Summer is the best time to catch them off of the Carolina beaches. Pompano are landed along the Gulf Coast with the exception of really cold weather in the northern portion of the Florida panhandle area.

Passes and inlets

Inlets are veritable fish highways that pompano and other species use to travel from the open waters of the Gulf of Mexico and Atlantic Ocean into the back bays. The current is always stronger in these areas due to the natural constricting of the land masses. The result is a natural spot for fish to congregate and feed, especially when structure is present.

Inlets and passes are virtually the same thing. In the Gulf of Mexico, they are called “passes”. And Atlantic Ocean, they are called “inlets”. While they are similar in most cases, they are actually fished a bit differently. This is mainly due to the fact that on the East Coast tides are stronger and boat traffic can be significantly heavier.

Pompano fishing in passes

The best technique to use when fishing for pompano and passes is to drift using a vertical presentation. Jigs work really well in this application and can be tipped with a small piece of shrimp to increase the chances of success. The jig is simply lower to the bottom and twitched sharply using short 1 foot movements. The jig stays in the strikes on the entire time and as the boat drifts a lot of water can be covered in a short amount of time. Once a school is located, anglers will re-drift that area until the bite slows.

Pompano will often times get up into very shallow water on the sandbars in the passes. As the drifting boat will spook them in this skinny water, it is best to make long casts and work the lure back to the boat. Jigs are effective in this situation as well, though anglers can certainly catch fish using live shrimp or sand fleas.

Inlets

Inlets on the Atlantic Ocean side can be a bit tricky. Tides are often times quite swift, resulting in a potentially dangerous boating situation. It also requires a lot of weight to get down to the bottom. Finally, boat traffic, especially on weekends, can be quite heavy. Often times, the best way to fish for Pompano in inlets is from the jetty. Anglers can cast out live bait or jigs and thoroughly work the rocks.

Often times, the best spots in the inlets are little eddies or edges where the rocks transition to sand. These are prime spots for pompano to hold in and feet. The Eddie on the backside of the jetty on the Atlantic Ocean side is a prime spot for anglers fishing for pompano and the inlets.

Surf fishing for pompano

One of the great things about fishing for pompano is that anglers do not need a boat to catch them. All things considered, more Pompano are probably landed by anglers surf fishing than they are by anglers in boats. The entire coastline from South Texas around the tip of Florida and up to Cape Hatteras can produce pompano at one time or another.

Using jigs for pompano in the surf

While most anglers target pompano in the surf using natural bait, they can certainly be caught on artificial lures as well. This is particularly true when the tide is high in the seas are flat. Pompano will cruise the first trough, quite close to shore, in search of sand fleas and other forage. Anglers casting jigs and working at through this area will catch fish under these conditions.

How to catch saltwater fish with jig, fishing for pompano on the flats

Pompano are also caught on the flats in the inshore bays. Often times, there are an incidental catch for anglers fishing for speckled trout, Spanish mackerel, and other species. They are a most welcome intrusion! Pompano generally swim around in small bunches, so once one is landed anglers can be fairly certain that others are nearby.

Flats close to the inlets and passes are generally the most productive ones for anglers fishing for pompano. They tend to be a bit deeper and have good current flow. The best flats are generally those that have a nice mix of grass and sand. Pompano will often times hold in the transition area where it changes from grass to sand.

Drifting is the best technique to use when targeting pompano on the flats. As with the passes, it allows anglers to cover a large amount of water fairly quickly. The best approach is to set up a drift where the wind and tide will move the boat in the same direction. This will result in a nice efficient drift.

Jigs produce on the flats

Both jigs and live bait work well in this situation. Generally speaking, anglers will cast jigs out in front of the drifting boat and work it back in. As with fishing in the passes, the jig will work best when presented right on the bottom. The lure is worked back using short, sharp twitches of the rod tip and then allowing the jig to fall to the bottom.

Live shrimp can also work well when drifting the flats. It will also catch a variety of other species as well. Free lining the shrimp works well on flats with water deeper than 6 feet. Anglers simply hook the shrimp through the horn and allow it to drift out behind the boat. A small split shot may be required when it is breezy or the current is strong. In shallower water, shrimp can be fished under a popping cork to keep it up out of the grass.

Pompano are excellent table fare

One of the best aspects of fishing for pompano is the opportunity for a fresh dinner. Some of the best chefs in the world consider Pompano to be the best eating fish of all species that swim! Pompano have a very fine, moist, buttery flavor. However, they really do not freeze all that well and angler should only keep enough for a fresh meal or two. There are several different ways to prepare them. Anglers can see current Florida fishing regulations on the FWC site.

Pompano are excellent when sautéed in a pan. A 50-50 mixture of butter and olive oil is heated in a pan. Pompano is covered in a tire breadcrumbs on both sides then placed into the hot skillet. The fishes allowed to cook for two minutes on each side and then is finished off in a 400° oven for five minutes or so depending on the thickness of the fillets.

Marinades work very well with Pompano as they absorb the flavor. However, it is best not to use one that is too strong that will mass the delicate flavor of the pompano. An easy marinade is one that is 1/4 cup light soy sauce, three-quarter cup olive oil, with some honey, ginger, and parsley mixed in. The fillets are allowed to set for 1 to 2 hours they can be baked, broiled, or grilled.

In conclusion, this article on how to catch saltwater fish with jigs will add another tool for anglers to use to be successful!

Walleye Fishing, A beginners Guide

Fishing for Walleye, a Beginners Guide

Fishing for walleye, a beginners guide will help anglers new to walleye fishing catch more fish. Walleye are extremely popular in the northern states and in Canada. While walleye put up a respectable tussle, the reason for this popularity is their value on a dinner plate. Walleye are probably the best eating freshwater fish that swims!

walleye fishing tips

Walleye are originally found in Canada and the Midwest. The Mississippi River basin and Missouri River basin had good concentrations of fish. Walleye are nocturnal feeders but many fish are caught during the day. They prefer cool, clear waters of lakes and rivers. They have been successfully transplanted all over North America, as long as the water quality and temperature are conducive to their survival.

Lake Erie is a prime example of a walleye success story. Fishing there has been very good for decades. Recent spawns were historic and anglers fishing for walleye are experiencing outstanding fishing for both numbers and trophy fish. Fish over 10 pounds are caught with regularity. Many other lakes and river systems have excellent walleye fishing as well.

Walleye habits

Walleye spawn in the spring when the water temperature is in the upper 40s to 50 degrees. They migrate from their deeper wintering areas shallow to do so. River walleye migrate into creeks and rivers to spawn on rock and gravel bottom areas. Lake walleye move inshore to spawn on shallow, windswept rock and bars. Many productive walleye fisheries have spawning fish both on the flats, reefs, and in creeks and rivers.

walleye fishing

Once the spawning ritual is completed and the water begins to warm up, walleye will move out and school up in large numbers around deeper, offshore structure. Underwater humps, bends in river channels, steep drop-offs, main lake points, bridges, and any submerged structure can hold walleye in the summer time. They will also school up in open water with no structure around under schools of bait fish.

It is best to target summer time walleye early and late in the day or at night. Fishing can be tough in the middle of the day in the middle of the summer, especially with no wind or cloud cover. A little breeze will put a chop on the surface of the water, reducing sunlight penetration. The same goes for cloudy days.

Summer and fall walleye patterns

As it cools off in late Summer and early fall, walleye will migrate shallow again. This is a great time of year to catch them casting crank baits and other artificial lures as the fish are in an aggressive feeding mood, fattening up for the upcoming winter. Once the water gets cold, or even freezes over, the fish will move back out deeper to areas similar to their summer locations.

fishing for walleye, a beginners guide

Walleye have a fairly diverse diet. They prefer live forage and will feed on just about anything they can find in a lake or river. Nightcrawlers, insects, crawfish, leeches, and bait fish are their primary sources of food. Walleye normally feed on or near the bottom but will certainly feed on suspended bait fish. This is particularly true on large, open bodies of water.

One look at the marble eye of a walleye will let anglers know that this is a nocturnal feeder. However, this is not an exclusive behavior. Walleye can certainly be caught during the day and most fish are caught during the daylight hours. Like most forms of freshwater fishing, dusk and dawn and periods of low light such as on cloudy days can often times be the most productive days to fish.

Fishing for walleye, a beginners guide; techniques

walleye fishing

The two primary angling techniques that are used when targeting walleye are spin fishing and trolling. Since the tackle used for both techniques is quite different, they will be covered in separate sections. Tackle and techniques used by anglers fishing for walleye with spinning tackle are quite similar to those used for other freshwater species such as smallmouth bass. However, the tackle used for deep water trolling is quite different.

Spin fishing for walleye

Anglers fishing for walleye use spinning tackle for the majority of the drifting and casting applications. Light spinning tackle is ideal for drifting rivers and lakes using jigs or live bait as well as when casting lures or live baits in the shallow waters.

walleye pike fishing

A 6 1/2 foot medium light fast action spinning rod matched with a 2500 series reel is an excellent all around walleye fishing combination. It will cover the vast majority of situations that anglers fishing for walleye will encounter. A “fast action” rod is one in which the butt or lower section is relatively stiff while the last couple feet of the rod tip is very limber and sensitive.

The reel can be spooled with 8 to 10 pound monofilament line or 10 to 15 pound braided line. Many anglers these days opt for braided line for the increased sensitivity and reduced stretch. Monofilament line is less expensive and knots are easier to tie. Braided line is more expensive, knots are more difficult to tie, however it will last a long time and has virtually no stretch.

Fishing for walleye in lakes

Anglers fishing for walleye on lakes have good success by drifting. The lure or bait is presented vertically as the boat slowly drifts over submerge structure. Sunken islands, sloping points, channel edges, and schools of bait fish in open water are all prime spots. Depths between 10 feet deep and 30 feet deep are usually the most productive. This is an excellent pattern from late spring after the spawn to mid fall.

walleye fishing for beginners

A live nightcrawler on a Lindy rig is a tough combination to beat for anglers drift fishing for walleye in open water. This rig consists of a special sinker that walks over submerged rocks and other structure. The hook floats a few feet up off the bottom where the bait hangs suspended, enticing the fish. This is an excellent technique for novice walleye anglers to use, as it is fairly simple. Other live baits such as leeches and bait fish can be used as well.

Jigs are an excellent artificial lure to use when fishing for walleye in deeper water. Again, a vertical presentation is often the most effective. It allows anglers to thoroughly cover the bottom as the boat drifts over the structure. The jig is dropped to the bottom and worked in short little hops as the boat drifts along.

Jig fishing for walleye

A jig is a hook with a piece of lead molded near the eye. This weight gives the lure both action and casting weight. The weight of the jig had will be determined by the depth of the water, current if any, and wind speed. The idea is to use just enough weight to reach bottom while the line is Relatively vertical.

walleye fishing guide

Jigs originally came with some type of hair dressing, with bucktail being the most common. Most anglers today use a jig head in combination with a grub body of some sort. This is an excellent system as the grub body can be changed easily to match the available forage. Darker colors such as black, green, and motor oil mimic leeches and crayfish. Lighter colors such as pearl and chartreuse are excellent bait fish imitations.

Grub bodies come in many different shapes, styles, and colors. It is easy to get overwhelmed with all the variety that is available. Curly tail jigs and shad tail jigs have excellent action and the water and imitate bait fish. However, a selection of 2 inch to 3 inch grub bodies in both light and dark colors in a couple different styles will cover most angling situations. The same applies to jig heads; a good supply of various colored jig heads and weights from 1/8 ounce to 1/2 ounce is all that most anglers will need.

Cool weather walleye patterns

Walleye are found in shallower waters and lakes in the cooler months. Often times, they are quite active and in a feeding mood. Fish that have moved to the shallows in the spring and the fall from deeper waters will be found around rocks, points, fallen timber, docks, and other structure and water from 10 feet deep up as shallow as a couple feet deep.

This is a great time for anglers to cast artificial lures in search of feeding walleye. Crank baits are an excellent choice as they allow anglers to cover a lot of water in a fairly short amount of time. They also draw reaction strikes from aggressive fish. Crank baits come in many different styles, shapes, colors, and sizes. Every angler has his or her favorite crank bait.

walleye fishing, a beginners guide

Crank baits should match the relative size, shape, and color of the local forage. Lighter, wide body plugs mimic shad. Long, slender jerk bait plugs imitate other bait fish and work very well over suspended grass beds. Other crank baits, and crawfish colors and are deadly when bounced along rocky bottoms.

Shoreline fishing for walleye

The jig and grub combo also works very well for anglers casting shorelines and flats when fishing for walleye in shallower water. The lure is cast out, allowed to sink, and worked slowly back to the boat using a series of hops. As in all artificial lure fishing, angler should vary relive retrieve and the lure until a productive pattern emerges.

Live bait can certainly be used in this application as well. A live nightcrawler fished under a float is a simple angling technique that is still very effective to this day. A live minnow can be deadly when fished this way as well. In deeper water, up to 10 feet, anglers often use a slip bobber. This allows for easier casting while presenting the bait at the ideal spot in the water column.

Fishing for walleye, a beginners guide; Ice fishing

ice fishing for walleye

Walleye can most certainly be caught through the ice! Ice fishing for walleye can be extremely productive and allows anglers without a boat to catch these fish in larger lakes. Most walleye are found between 10 feet deep and 25 feet deep in the winter. However, this is not a hard and fast rule. As with all fishing, anglers should keep moving until a school of fish is located.

Anglers ice fishing obviously must use a vertical presentation. Small artificial lures such as a jig, jigging spoon or specially designed jigging plug will all work well. However, it is tough to beat a live minnow when fishing for walleye through the ice. A live minnow hooked through the lips on a light jig head is an excellent combination and has put many walleye on ice over the years.

fishing for walleye, a beginners guide

Fishing for walleye in rivers

Walleye are found in rivers and streams throughout the Midwest and Canada. Many Lake systems have rivers that connect the lakes. Often times, these are overlooked walleye fishing spots. Many of the techniques that produce walleye in lakes will work in rivers as well. However, there are some differences to take into consideration.

river fishing for walleye

River conditions are very important when it comes to fishing for walleye and rivers as well as for other species. The best time to fish rivers is when the water is at normal stage or a little below, clear, with a light to moderate flow. River fishing is not only difficult, it is quite dangerous when the water is high, dirty, and fast.

One advantageous aspect of river fishing is that fish are easier to locate. There is less area to search for them than there is in large lakes. Also, river fish tend to stage and hold in the same types of locations no matter which River is being fished. Current is the primary factor and will dictate where the fish will be found.

River fishing advantages

Rivers offer walleye anglers other advantages as well. Fish in rivers tend not to be as affected by weather systems as do fish in lakes. Walleye in rivers also get less pressure than do those in lakes. This can result in a larger than average sized fish being landed in rivers.

Walleye will normally be found in the deeper parts of streams and small rivers. Deeper holes between the riffles, especially if larger rocks are present, are prime spots. Walleye do not like a lot of current and will not be found in a swift parts of the stream. Small rivers and large streams can produce some surprisingly large fish.

fishing for walleye, a beginners guide

Walleye will spread out more in larger rivers. However, anglers can still concentrate on the high percentage spots. Anything that causes a break in the current is a potential walleye holding spot. Bridges, rip rap, points, wing dams, jetties, large boulders, and anything that will break the current and create an eddy will be used by walleye as a feeding station.

River lures and baits

The same lures and baits that produce walleye in lakes will produce in rivers and streams as well. The jig and grub combination is an excellent choice to locate fish. Anglers will inevitably snag on the bottom and these lures are relatively inexpensive. Darker colors are normally more productive. Shallow diving plugs can be used as well.

Live bait will certainly produce for anglers fishing for walleye in rivers. A nightcrawler, minnow, or leech bounced on the bottom through a pool is a very productive technique. Anglers can also fish the same live baits under a float in the shallower portions as well. A live minnow hooked on a jig head is another effective bait.

Fishing for walleye, a beginners guide; Trolling

trolling for walleye

Trolling is a very effective technique for anglers fishing for walleye. This technique allows anglers to present multiple baits at multiple depths in the water column while covering a large amount of water in a relatively short amount of time. Trolling is basically the technique where lures or live baits are dragged behind a slowly moving boat. However, it is much more complex than that.

Trolling requires quite a bit of special equipment. Most anglers opt for conventional outfits when trolling. They are the best choice as these reels hold a lot of line, have smooth drags, and provide excellent power when cranking. Trolling rods are longer and quite limber as they must absorb a lot of energy from both the tackle being trolled and when a fish hits.

walleye fishing tips

Both artificial lures and live bait are used by anglers trolling for walleye. Plugs and spoons are the two most popular lures. They come in a wide variety of sizes, colors, and shapes. Spoons and plugs wobble enticingly putting out flash and vibration. This closely mimics a wounded bait fish and is very effective for producing strikes. A live nightcrawler on a worm harness with a Colorado or twin willow blades is extremely effective as well. A slow presentation usually works best.

Walleye trolling tackle

The best all round walleye trolling rig consists of an 8′ to 10′ rod matched with a Daiwa Accudepth 47LC or 57 LC reel in spooled up with 17 pound test mono or 30-50 braided line. Reels with line counters are crucial to consistently present lines at the same depth. Once a productive pattern emerges, reels with line counters make it much easier to duplicate the presentation.

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Anglers use several methods to get the lures down in the water column. The easiest method, and one that does not require any extra gear such as downriggers, is to use diving plugs. Plugs come with a plastic lip at the front. The size and shape of the lip along with the plug itself in the diameter of the line will determine how deep the plug will dive. Trolling speed and line diameter will also affect the depth to some degree.

Plugs can be presented at specific depths

Plug manufacturers have specifications that will give anglers an idea of the depth that which a certain lure will run. These steps can often be a tad optimistic. However, it is a good starting point. Anglers can run several different lures at multiple depths using various colors to cover as much of the water column as possible. This technique works very well when trolling in water between 10 feet deep and 20 feet deep.

walleye lures

Inline weights can be used to get the plugs down deeper than they were designed to run. These weights can be tied inline but also come as “clip on” weights. These are convenient and allow anglers to quickly and easily adjust the depth. Lure manufactures often supply charts that will help determine the weight needed to get a particular lure to a certain depth. However, experience is the best teacher.

Walleye fishing with downriggers

Downriggers are a piece of equipment that troll lures use when fishing for walleye. They consist of a spool and a crank, a short arm, and a heavy downrigger ball. Line is let out and then attached to a downrigger clip. The ball is then lower to the desired depth. A counter on the downrigger let’s the angler know how deep the ball is. When a fish strikes, the line is pulled through the clip and the angler fights the fish using just the rod and reel.

trolling with downriggers

Downriggers are expensive and a bit cumbersome. However, they are an essential tool for serious anglers trolling deeper lakes for walleye. Anglers can add multiple clips on the downrigger line, resulting in the ability to run several lures at various depths. Anglers can run just about any lure or bait from a downrigger. Some of the best lures to use are Stinger Spoons, Husky Jerks with a small lip, and Reef Runners. Every geographical area has it’s “favorite” lures. Anglers can monitor online message boards and join clubs to get this information. Local tackle shops are a great source and will usually stock the productive plugs for that region.

Dipsy Divers

Dipsy Divers are a clever little device that anglers use to get their lures down in the water column. It works a bit like a deep diving plugs. It has multiple settings which the angler can use to adjust the depth that which the lure will run. Anglers can also “offset” the Dipsy, which will result in the lure running off to the side. Anglers can then cover a wider path of water by using multiple rigs. When a fish hits, a little clip pops and the angler fights the fish without the drag of the Dipsy Diver.

trolling for walleye

The Dipsy Diver is tied directly to the running line of the rod. A 6 to 12 foot long fluorocarbon leader of 15-20 pound test is attached to the diver. The lure is attached to the other end of the leader. The best lures and baits to use when trolling with this rig are worm harnesses, spoons, and small lipped plugs. It is important not to use a plug with a large lip as it will “trip” the Dipsy Diver. Most anglers opt for braided line when using Dipsy Divers. It reduced the drag in the water while eliminating line stretch when trolling deep with a lot of line out.

Planer boards

Planer boards are used to take lines off to the side of the boat. They work a little bit like Dipsy’s except that instead of going down in the water column they ride on the surface of the water. They generally run about 45° off of the side of the boat. The more line that is let out, the further off to the side the planer board will run.

trolling with planer boards

The boards attach using little clips to the running line. Anglers let the lure out the desired distance behind the boat, then attached the planer board. The planer board is slowly played out off to the side as line is released from the reel. Once the planer board is the desired distance from the boat, the rod is put into a rod holder. These in-line planer boards allow anglers to run multiple rods with different lure combinations on each side of the boat.

Anglers fishing for walleye can run 3 to 4 planer boards on each side of the boat. The best spread has the outside lines being the furthest back and shallowest. Then, each line moving towards the boat is deeper and closer to the boat. This will allow anglers to work the fish up the middle, above the lines. If the fish dives, the lines may tangles, there is just not a lot that can be done about that.

Planer board trolling strategies

When a fish hits, the angler removes the rod from the holder and works the fish up the middle behind the boat. When the planer board nears the rod tip, the angler stops reeling while his or her partner un-clip the planer board. It is critical to keep steady tension on the fish while removing the planer board. Even the slightest bit of slack can result in a lost walleye. This is a bit of a procedure, but once mastered is relatively easy. It is also an incredibly effective technique.

fishing for walleye, a beginners guide

A single planer board can also be used. The planer board is put out the desired distance and then secured. Then, a line is put out. As with the clip on planer boards, the shallowest, furthest line goes first. Once the line is out, the rod is placed in a holder. The line is placed in a released clip and the clip is put on a ring. The ring slides down the planer board line. When a fish hits, it pulls the line from the clip. Multiple lines can be used on each side of the boat.

Speed is crucial when it comes to trolling for walleye. Every day is different and anglers must experiment to see what lure and speed combination will produce that day. However, most walleye anglers find that 1.5 to 2.3 miles an hour is the most productive speed to use.

Top US walleye fishing spots

Lake Erie

Lake Erie may be the best walleye fishery in North America at this time. It offers anglers both good action on smaller fish as well as an excellent trophy fishery. The action starts with anglers jigging the reefs in March and April, after the water clears advice. As it moves into summer, angler switch tactics and cast to the shallow shoreline structure as well as trolling and drifting the open water spots.

Water temperature and forage availability are keys to fishing Lake Erie. The schools of walleye will move east along with the abundant forage such as smelt. As it warms up into the middle of summer, successful anglers switch from crank baits to live bait such as nightcrawlers on a harness. It is important to cover the entire water column, as walleye will often be found at mid depths, especially if there is a little breeze.

Lake of the Woods

Lake of the Woods did not earn its nickname “The walleye capital of the world”without merit. This lake that borders the United States and Canada in northern Minnesota has over 1 million acres of water that offers excellent angling for walleye all year long. As with the other best walleye fishing lakes, Lake of the Woods offers both numbers and trophies.

Anglers divide Lake of the Woods into three sections. The rainy river feeds Lake of the Woods. Big Traverse Bay is basically 25 miles long and 25 miles wide. The Northwest angle is home to over 15,000 islands. All three sections offer excellent angling at one time of the year or another.

Anglers successfully target post spawn walleye and the spring at the mouth of the rainy River. Structure in this area is very productive, with jigs, crank baits, and live bait all produce. As it warms up, walleye will gradually move out to the main lake areas. Walleye are generally found on brakes and structure in 15 to 20 feet of water in late spring and early summer. Drifting or slow trolling with a crawler harnesses tough to beat.

Traditional summer patterns produce for anglers fishing for walleye in the warmer months in the open water sections. Trolling crank baits on downriggers and using heavy bottom bouncers with live bait are the two most productive methods. As it begins to cool off, the pattern will reverse itself and fish will move shallow once again. Ice fishing is very popular and very productive on Lake of the Woods.

Saginaw Bay, Michigan

Saginaw Bay is a fisheries management success story. While I were virtually extinct in the 1970s. However, due to the incredible efforts of fishing and sportsmen’s organizations along with the Michigan DNR, the population has rebounded. Saginaw Bay now offers anglers excellent walleye fishing all year long.

While I move into this area in the winter from the main lake. This results in excellent ice fishing for walleye as well as casting the shallow structure and early spring after ice out. Anglers casting jigs, plugs, and line spinners, and live bait should experience success. It is important to keep moving until the fish are located.

Just as in most walleye fisheries, as it warms up the fish head out to the deep waters of Lake Huron. Local walleye experts have found that there are two large concentrations of fish. One school of fish moves towards the tip of the “thumb”. The other concentration of fish normally migrates up the west side of Lake Huron to Thunder Bay. Trolling is a great way to locate these fish as a are constantly on the move.

Lake Winnebago chain

This is a large system in the state of Wisconsin that offers anglers super walleye fishing all year long. It includes four lakes; Winnebago, Butte des Morts, Poygan, and Winneconne as well as the Fox River and Wolf River.

Spring is the prime time for anglers fishing for walleye in the Lake Winnebago chain. These lakes and rivers are shallow and weedy, offering anglers the chance to cast lures in relatively shallow water. The rivers offer excellent fishing as well as spawning fish migrate up into them. Casting works well in the shallow, rocky sections while trolling is productive in the deeper stretches.

Traditional walleye summer patterns produce in the warmer months. Anglers trolling open waters do well with deep diving crank baits as well as nightcrawlers and leeches on harnesses. Shoreline weed beds will also produce fish for patient anglers willing to work a jig through the cover.

Green Bay, Wisconsin

While Lake Michigan offers excellent fishing for walleye south of Bays de Noc. Green Bay in Wisconsin is especially good, particularly for larger fish. Good numbers of average sized fish are available as well.

Starting in spring, anglers target spawning walleye on the shallow reefs as well as tributaries such as the Fox River and the Menominee River. April is usually the prime month to target spawning fish. Trolling flats in 15 feet of water to 20 feet of water is productive in May and into June. In the heat of the summer, fish are found in the deeper water. Anglers who prefer to cast will do well working points, channel edges, reefs, and drop-offs in 15 feet to 20 feet of water using jigs.

Upper Mississippi River, Minnesota/Wisconsin/Iowa

The upper Mississippi from its headwaters south into Wisconsin and Iowa is an excellent all around walleye fishery. This is an excellent option for anglers looking for numbers of fish and who enjoy casting. Most of the fishing, and catching, is done in fairly shallow water.

This is classic River fishing. The best time to fish is during periods of average flow when the water is clear. Any type of structure such as a wing dam, Boulder, bridge, drop off, and fallen timber will hold fish as a weight and ambush. Spinners, jigs, and shallow diving plugs are all excellent artificial lures. Live bait can be drifted through the pools and riffles under a bobber as well. Tail waters of dams are prime spots, especially when water is flowing through.

Leech Lake

Leech Lake in Minnesota is another good lake for anglers fishing for walleye. It offers anglers both action as well is a chance for trophy fish. Leech Lake is a beautiful lake with a lot of unspoiled, natural shoreline in a variety of habitat which supports a good walleye population. It is located within the Chippewa national Forest in the unspoiled scenery is part of the attraction of fishing Leech Lake. All of the standard walleye fishing techniques and seasonal patterns apply here as well.

Detroit River and Lake St. Clair

Despite its urban location and proximity to a large population base, Lake St. Clair and the Detroit River offer anglers fantastic walleye fishing, particularly in the spring. Good numbers of walleye move out of the south end of Lake St. Clair and out of the north west corner of Lake Erie and into the Detroit River just after ice out. Fishing remains very good until mid May when the fish move back out into the open waters of Lake St. Clair.

There are couple aspects that make the Detroit River unique. One thing is the numbers of large fish that move into the river and spring. Anglers have a chance to catch 10 pound fish on every outing. Also, most of the fish are caught by anglers jigging using fairly light tackle as opposed to trolling. This really adds to the enjoyment of the catch!

Anglers do well in the Detroit River drifting and trolling. A jig and grub combination or a jig head with a live minnow bounced along the bottom with the current is tough to beat. The same goes for a nightcrawler on a harness. Trolling with crank baits is also productive. Fishing can be tough in Lake St. Clair in the middle of summer, with early-morning, evening, and night being the best times to fish.

Devils Lake, North Dakota

While Devils Lake in North Dakota is famous for its giant yellow perch, it also has an excellent population of walleye. Anglers casting jigs tipped with minnows are leeches around structure such as bridge pilings, rocky shorelines, sunken islands, weed beds, and fallen trees will do well on above average sized fish. In summer, trolling produces around the deeper structure.

Lake McConaughy, Nebraska

Lake McConaughy in Nebraska is a large lake, having over 35,000 acres of surface water to fish. While holding good numbers of average sized fish, it is noted for being a trophy fishery. It produced the state record 16 lbs. 2 oz. Fish.

Spring is a prime time to fish and the spawning run at the dam draws a big crowd every year. After the spawning run is over, the fish scatter out into the lake They will be the dispersed over a large area and trolling is the most efficient way to locate them. Anglers do well with banana shaped crank baits which hang up less in the abundant submerged structure. In fall, anglers do well vertically jigging underwater humps and ledges and 40 to 60 feet of water.

Lake Oahe, South Dakota/North Dakota

Lake Oahe in North Dakota offers good walleye fishing all year long, with an emphasis on fish between 15 and 20 inches long. Walleye can be caught suspended above the flooded timber using spinner baits, jigs, and diving plugs.

In conclusion, this article on Walleye Fishing, a Beginners Guide will help anglers catch more of these very popular fish!