Fishing for Striped Bass – Tips, Tackle, and Techniques

Fishing for Striped Bass – Tips, Tackle, and Techniques

This article will thoroughly cover fishing for striped bass. Striped bass, also known as stripers and rockfish are an extremely popular game fish. They are a bit unusual in that they thrive in both freshwater and saltwater environments.

striped bass fishing

Striped bass, Morone saxatilis, are the most popular inshore saltwater game fish in the Northeast. They range from Maine down to South Carolina. Anglers catch them trolling, casting, using live bait, and surf fishing. They have also been transplanted successfully in many large freshwater lakes. There is also a population of striped bass in San Francisco Bay and the Sacramento River. They grow quite large with the world record being a touch over 80 pounds.

Striped bass distribution

In salt water, striped bass are found from the mid Atlantic off of the Carolina coast north into Canada. Striped bass were also introduced into San Francisco Bay. In both of these saltwater environments, striped bass migrate up into freshwater rivers to spawn. On the East Coast, the Chesapeake Bay watershed and Hudson River host the majority of spawning striped bass. On the West Coast, the Sacramento River accomplishes this.

inshore saltwater fishing

Striped bass have been introduced into many freshwater reservoir systems with great success. Most of these impoundments were created in the 1960s and 1970s and created fantastic largemouth bass fisheries. However, over the course of time much of the flooded timber has rotted and bass moved to man-made structure especially docks.

Anglers can purchase Capt Jim’s E-book, “Inshore Saltwater Fishing” for $5 by clicking on the title link. It is 23,000 words long and covers tackle, tactics, and species.

striped bass fishing

With so much open water available, striped bass and forage such as herring and shad were introduced into these waters. Striped bass flourish in these large lakes as they are mostly open water predators. Dams do restrict spawning in many of these lakes is restricted by dams, therefore striped bass are stocked regularly.

Striped bass habits

Striped bass are open water predators. They are most often found in fairly large schools. Striped bass have a varied diet and are opportunistic feeders. However, they primarily feed on bait fish, particularly herring and shad in freshwater and menhaden (bunker), herring, mackerel, sand eels, and other bait fish in saltwater.

fishing for striped bass

Striped bass are often seen feeding on the surface. Anglers call this “breaking fish” and it is very exciting! Just about any flashy lure will draw a strike when fish are actively feeding like this. Trolling works well when striped bass are suspended below the surface.

Anglers do catch striped bass by casting lures and baits towards shoreline cover, mostly in saltwater situations. They will be found on bars and flats seeking forage. Striped bass can also be caught up in rivers as they migrate to spawn.

Striped bass fishing tackle

Lake Murray striped bass

The best striped bass fishing tackle varies, depending on the size of the fish and the technique being used. Medium spinning tackle works well for casting lures. A medium heavy baitcasting/conventional outfit is a good all-round choice. Heavy conventional tackle is required for trolling. Typical surf fishing gear works fine off the beach.

Anglers can read more about striped bass fishing tackle and lures in this article by Capt Jim

Spinning tackle is very versatile. It is the best choice for anglers casting lighter lures and smaller live baits for average sized striped bass in both fresh and saltwater. A 7′ medium action rod with a 3000-4000 series reel spooled up with 20 lb braided line is an excellent rod and reel combination.

surf fishing for striped bass

Baitcasting tackle certainly has it’s place when fishing for striped bass. It works very well when casting heavier lures and live baits as well as having the power to handle a decent fish. A baitcasting outfit also works great for chunking, bottom fishing, and light tackle trolling. A 7′ to 7 ½’ medium heavy outfit with 30 lb braid works great.

Anglers can shop Amazon for Penn spinning and conventional combos

“Fishing Lido Key is a participant in the Amazon Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. ”

Anglers serious about striped bass fishing and seeking larger fish will need some heavy conventional tackle. This is used for trolling mostly, but can also be used to present live or cut bait to large fish. The venerable Penn 4/0 outfit works very well.

surf fishing

Surf fishing for striped bass is very popular for anglers all along the east coast. Standard surf fishing gear works fine and most anglers already have the proper equipment. For those that do not, a 12” medium heavy spinning outfit is a good place to start.

Capt Jim has been a fishing guide in Sarasota, Florida since 1991. Anglers who are interested in purchasing the equipment that he uses and writes about in his articles and reports can do so HERE on the PRODUCTS page.

Striped bass fishing techniques

There are several techniques that are productive for anglers fishing for striped bass. These include drifting, trolling, casting lures, and bottom fishing. Some techniques even kind of cross over.

Carolina game fish

Drift fishing

Drifting can be an effective technique to locate and catch striped bass. This is particularly true in cooler water when striped bass are in deeper water, close to the bottom. This works well in saltwater where tidal flow will keep the boat moving. It can be used when freshwater fishing for striped bass as well.

Drift fishing is effective because it keeps the bait in the strike zone for the maximum amount of time while searching for fish. Live and cut bait are often used. However, anglers can vertically present a jig or spoon as well. The best spots to drift are ledges, sunken islands, wrecks and reefs, and near schools of bait.

Trolling for striped bass

Trolling is an extremely effective technique for catching striped bass. It allows anglers to cover a lot of water while presenting multiple baits or lures at various depths. One a particular pattern emerges, anglers can focus in on that bait and depth to catch a lot of fish.

trolling for striped bass

Anglers can troll with both live bait and artificial lures. Slowly trolling a live herring or shad is the predominant method for taking big striped bass in freshwater lakes. Downriggers and sinkers are used to get the baits down to the desired depth. The boat is moved slowly, just enough to keep the lines straight. Channel edges are top spots as are any area where bait fish is plentiful.

Read more about trolling techniques in this article

Most anglers trolling for striped bass in saltwater use artificial lures. They can be trolled faster which helps anglers find the fish more quickly. Spoons, jigs, and plugs are all effective lures to use. Anglers should try to match the lure to the size of the available forage. Local tackle shops are an excellent source of information as to what lures produce in a particular area.

Plugs are great for trolling because no other gear is required, the lip on the plug will get it down in the water column. Spoons and jigs require trolling sinkers, downriggers, wire line, or planers. A trolling sinker followed by 10′ to 20′ of leader and then the lure is perhaps the easiest method. Planers work great as well, once an angler gets used to setting them.

striped bass fishing tips and spots

Umbrella rigs are interesting rigs that are mostly used for striped bass fishing, though smaller versions are used by largemouth bass fishing (known as Alabama rigs). They allow anglers to present several lures at once. The rig mimics a school of bait fish, jigs are most often used. It is a bit cumbersome, but effective.

Fishing for striped bass with lures

Anglers fishing for striped bass can catch them casting lures as well. This is similar to other styles of fishing as anglers work a shoreline or flat while casting lures in search of fish. A lead head jig with a 4” to 6” soft plastic bait works very well. Plugs and spoons will also produce when blind casting. Many striped bass caught by anglers surf fishing do so casting lures.

Chesapeake Bay Bridge striped bass

As mentioned earlier, one of the most exciting striped bass fishing situations occurs when fish are found feeding on the surface. This occurs in both lakes and in saltwater. Bass “trap” the helpless bait against the surface and then feed aggressively. Birds are often a sign that feeding stripers are in the area.

Read about the best striped bass fishing lures in this article

Spoons, plugs, and jigs all work well in this situation. Anglers fly fishing can get in on the action as well. Fish really are not that fussy and will hit most lures that are presented well. The main factor to pay attention to is boat position. It is important to be as patient as possible and work the edges of the fish. Driving through the middle of them will often result in the striped bass going deep. Vertically jigging a spoon works great when this happens.

Fishing for striped bass with bait

Plenty of anglers fishing for striped bass do so using basic bottom fishing techniques. Fishing with live or cut bait on the bottom produces every saltwater species and striped bass are no exception. Bottom fishing with cut and chunk bait work very well for anglers surf fishing for striped bass.

top Tennessee game fish species

Live bait works fine for bottom fishing, especially in saltwater, but cut bait is as productive and easier to use. Cut bait stays on the hook longer as well, which is an issue when crabs and bait-stealers are around. Any fresh caught fish that is legal to use will produce. Oily fish such as mackerel and menhaden are particularly effective.

Live bait is certainly used as well, but more often it is free lined or trolled as opposed to fished right on the bottom. These include herring, shad, menhaden, bloodworms, eels, and more. This technique works very well around bridges at night, some very large fish are caught doing this.

Fishing for striped bass in rivers

Many anglers enjoy fishing for striped bass in rivers. This is usually best in spring as stripers go on a spawning run. In lakes with dame, the fish often are forced to stop and school up at the tailwaters of dams. These can be fantastic fishing spots as fish are ganged up and forage comes through or over the dam.

top 13 Chesapeake Bay game fish

While these are terrific spots, anglers do need to be very careful as currents can be strong. Drifting with bait or lures or casting lures will produce fish. Anglers can often fish these spots from the shoreline, eliminating the need for a boat.

Free flowing rivers will see striped bass migrating very far upriver, to portions where it becomes totally fresh. The major tributaries of the Cheasapeake Bay are important spawning grounds. The Hudson River sees a lot of striped bass as well. On the west coast, the Sacramento River gets a nice push of fish as well.

Drifting through deep holes is productive when fishing for striped bass in rivers. In slower moving rivers, trolling will also produce fish. As it shallows up, bumping a jig along the bottom works quite well.

Inlets are excellent spots to target striped bass. This is especially true for anglers without a boat, as most inlets have jetties which allow anglers access. The best time to fish inlets is generally on the turn of the tide, when the current flow is reduced. It is difficult to fish when the current is running hard through the inlet.

inshore saltwater fishing

Anglers fishing the inlets can choose to use both natural and artificial baits. Those casting poppers and other plugs along with spoons and jigs do quite well when working parallel to the rocks. They will also make opportunistic cast whenever breaking fish pop up. Anglers bottom fishing need to constantly adjust the weight in order to minimize snags. Often times, the best spot to bottom fish is on the backside of the jetty where there is a sandy bottom and a current eddy.

East Coast striped bass

Striped bass spawn in the brackish tributary rivers. Chesapeake Bay is responsible for about 80% of the striped bass spawning activity. The Hudson River in New York is second in that regard. Juvenile striped bass spend the first couple years in the freshwater and brackish rivers before migrating out to the open water. Striped bass can live up to 30 years old.

fishing inlets

Striped bass can be caught using a wide variety of angling techniques. They are caught drift fishing, trolling, sight fishing, chumming, fly fishing, and surf fishing.

Striped bass fishing techniques

Anglers choosing to drift with natural bait will have success use in both live and cut bait. A free lined pogy or menhaden is a deadly bait for a trophy striped bass. Small live eels are used as well, especially in Chesapeake Bay around the bridges. Cut bait such as strips or chunks of fresh fish and squid will also produce. Anglers choosing to drift while using artificial lures will do well with jigs and heavy vertical jigging spoons.

Some anglers choose to anchor and chum a spot, rather than drifting it. This can be an extremely productive technique. The boat is anchored up on a drop off, piece of hard bottom, or other likely spot. Menhaden oil or other chum is dispersed with the tide from the stern. Several rods are rigged and hooked up with chunks of fresh baits such as pogy or menhaden. Any oily fish will work; bluefish and mackerel are fine baits. It is important to use circle hooks in this application to reduce the number of fish that are gut hooked. Many states require this by law.

Top east coast striped bass fishing spots

Striped bass fishing in Maine

Starting in the north, Maine now has reliable fishing for striped bass once again. After several down years, the numbers of fish are back up again. Biologists credit tough regulations along the east coast and plentiful bait fish as the main reasons for the resurgence.

Susquehanna River striped bass

Fish show in the the southern part of the state in May. They will move as far north as Penobscot Bay by late June. Mackerel, either live or in chunks, is a top striper bait. Any fresh cut bait will work at times. Sand worms and blood worms are also effective baits. Poppers, diving plugs, spoons, and jigs are the top choices for anglers who prefer artificial baits.

Striped bass fishing in Massachusetts

Striped bass show up off of Cape Cod and Buzzards Bay in late April and stay until fall. Smaller fish are usually first to show up, followed by the larger specimens. Massachusetts offers anglers fantastic striped bass fishing when conditions are right. Fish will be caught in Buzzards Bay, Cape Cod Bay, and off the area beaches.

Anglers fishing from boats catch striped bass trolling and drifting. However, the most exciting fishing is when schools of fish are “breaking” on the surface. Just about any lure will draw a strike. Surf fishing is extremely popular in this area as well. Cape Cod is famous for surf fishing for stripers and other species.

Striped bass fishing in New York and New Jersey

Long Island sound and the New York and New Jersey beaches offer fantastic striped bass fishing. Fish show up in mid April and stay until Thanksgiving. Anglers can target them by trolling, drifting, casting, and surf fishing. Sight casting to large fish in shallow water is great sport!

spinnerbait fishing techniques

The fall blitzes off of Montauk are legendary. Fish will be seen busting on top throughout the area. Boating can be intense, especially on the weekends. The key to the fishing is the abundance of bait. This attracts the striped bass as they migrate through and they feed heavily, especially in the fall.

The Hudson River is responsible only behind Chesapeake Bay for producing juvenile striped bass. The fishing during the spring run can be epic. The prime time is from mid-April to mid-May. All of the same techniques produce in the river as in the saltwater.

Striped bass fishing the coast

Kirsten Holloway fishes the New Jersey Coast north of Atlantic City. As far as bass fishing on the Great Egg Harbor river goes, she catches fish on a variety of baits depending on the month of the year. In these pictures, the fish were caught in the spring time when the fish enter the river for spawning. At this time, the fish are after bloodworms and herring. Since the use of herring as bait has been outlawed, we have came up with some alternatives.

striped bass spots

Most of these fish were caught as I like to refer to it as “chunkin”. I will use a hi-lo rig to catch a few smaller perch. I will then use the perch as bait and allow the bass to find the chunk, while staying anchored. It has seemed to work very well. If that isn’t working or I am looking to stay busy, I have also caught quite a few bass with a commonly used lure known as the “SP minnow” made by Daiwa.

Striped bass fishing, Chesapeake Bay

Chesapeake Bay is responsible for producing 80% of the east coast striped bass. The myriad of tributaries gives spawning fish plenty of places to reproduce. It also offers juvenile fish a place to feed and grow safely. Trolling produces most of the larger fish. Anglers can drift baits and lures as well as cast to fish.

inshore fishing for stripers

Kayla Haile has been fishing the Susquehanna since before she could walk. Her dad would take her fishing there and taught Kayla everything she knows about fishing the river. She currently runs an 1860 G# jet boat. She primarily fishes the Susquehanna below the Cowingo Dam, but knows the Chesapeake Bay as well.

The Chesapeake Is a very diverse fishery. It starts as a river to the north and is almost like an ocean at the mouth. Tributaries hold juvenile fish before they migrate out into the open bay. Mature fish spawn in these rivers and creeks as well.

Striped bass fishing the Susquehanna River

Kayla fishes the lower Susquehanna River and flats below Cowingo Dam. The best fishing is in late spring when the water temperature is around 65°. She likes a 6’7″ medium heavy St. Croix rod, Diawa B&G reel spooled with 30 pound HI-SEAS Grand Slam Braided line.

Tailwater fishing tips

Striped bass are mostly feeding on white perch at this time. Kayla has good success with a white Sassy Shad soft plastic swim bait on a 3/4 ounce jig head. This bait mimics the white perch that are in the river. Water clarity will affect bait choice. White or pearl is a great all round color. Most of the large striped bass are in shallow water. They put up a great and challenging fight around the rocks and other structure.

Fishing Chesapeake Bay

The entire Chesapeake Bay watershed can be productive. Numerous rivers will hold striped bass in the spring as they spawn. Larger rivers such as the Potomac, Rappahanock, Patuxent, and Choptank are normally best. The mouths of these rivers are good again in the fall. In the warmer months, most of the larger fish will be found in the main channel where the water is deeper.

Virginia river fishing

Breaking fish are plentiful most years in the fall. Many of these are “schoolies” of around 20”, but are fun on light tackle. The late bite at the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel at the south end of the bay is legendary. Anglers also catch fish off the surf, especially near the inlets, during the season. Night fishing around the Bay Bridge can be very good.

Striped bass fishing in the Carolinas

Striped bass are plentiful as far down the coast as South Carolina. The Hatteras beaches in North Carolina are famous for surf fishing for striped bass and other species. These isolated barrier islands jut out into the Atlantic Ocean. Anglers come from all over the country to try their hand at surf fishing.

Most anglers surf fishing for striped bass take a two-pronged approach. They keep a 10 foot surf rod rigged up with a popper, plug, spoon, or jig. They they will also have a heavier 14 foot outfit. The heavier rig is baited up with a chunk of bait such as mullet or herring. While waiting for a bite, the lighter rod is used to cast whenever activity is seen.

Massachusetts striped bass

Albermarle Sound and Pamlico Sound are large inshore bays that offer good striped bass fishing as well. Tributaries into the sounds as well as the inshore bays and rivers south to the Georgia state line offer good angling opportunities as well. The same techniques that work up north work well in both North Carolina and South Carolina.

Freshwater striped bass fishing

Striped bass are a huge success story in larger freshwater lake and river systems. As flooded timber has rotted, largemouth bass fishing slowed. Striped bass and herring were introduced, and the stripers flourished! This is particularly true in the Tennessee Valley Authority lakes throughout the Southeast. Dams often prevent spawning, however some sytems are free flowing. While the following article is about Lake Murray, SC, the tactics will work anywhere freshwater striped bass are found.

Lake Murray Striped Bass fishing, Tips and Techniques

This article will focus on catching Lake Murray striped bass. Lake Murray offers excellent fishing for these transplanted game fish, along with bass, catfish, crappie, and other species.

umbrella rig for stripers

Lake Murray is a reservoir in the center of the state of South Carolina. It is 41 miles long and approximately 50,000 acres in size with around 500 miles of shoreline. Lake Murray was impounded in the late 1920s to provide hydroelectric power to the state of South Carolina. South Carolina were an innovator and began stocking striped bass in the late 60’s. Striped bass thrive in this freshwater fishery and are caught using several techniques.

Jacki Gillen is the “Lake Murray correspondent” for the site. She knows the lake well and primarily targets striped bass. Jacki was born in Norfolk, Virginia and grew up in the Lexington area of South Carolina. She spent many summers saltwater fishing with her grandfather in Chesapeake Bay along with freshwater fishing with her father in South Carolina.

Striped bass fishing fever!

It has only been in the last few years that she has found a new love for striped bass fishing with her husband on Lake Murray. Jacki also really enjoys offshore fishing and Charleston, South Carolina and in the Florida Keys. She owns J Hooker Fishing with her husband Jacob. Jacki is on the Striper Sniper pro staff and has great success using their products.

striper fishing Lake Murray

Striped bass are a saltwater game fish that were introduced into freshwater lakes in the early 70’s. Stripers spawn in freshwater and brackish rivers. Biologists were confident that they would do well in large freshwater lakes. They were correct! Striped bass do require fresh, flowing water to spawn. Santee Cooper is the only lake in South Carolina that has this environment. Therefore, Lake Murray striped bass do not reproduce. A million 1” fish are stocked each year.

Lake Murray striped bass forage

Striped bass feed primarily on bait fish. The primary forage species are threadfin shad followed by the gizzard shad. However, most and guides seem to prefer fishing with the blueback herring. These herring were not natural to Lake Murray, but were introduced by fishermen in 1985 and are now an established forage fish. Jacki does fine using herring and gizzard shad. Bait can be caught but Jacki prefers the convenience of picking it up at local bait shops.

The lures that Jacki uses and recommends when fishing for Lake Murray striped bass mimic these shad species in size and color. Bait size changes as they grow. Successful anglers “match the hatch” by keeping up with the size shad that the stripers are feeding on.

Lake Murray striped bass fishing tackle

Anglers need both spinning tackle and conventional tackle when targeting Lake Murray striped bass. Spinning tackle is used to cast to breaking fish (fish that are feeding on the surface) and for vertical jigging. Jacki prefers a 7 foot rod matched with a 3000-5000 series reel. She uses 20-30 lb braided line. No leader is required as the lure is tied directly to the braid.

Trolling requires heavier tackle. The strain of the larger lures and rigs dictates the use of light conventional equipment. Not to mention that there is always a chance to hook a very large fish as well as multiple fish at one time. Jacki uses 7′ rods, Penn 30 series conventional reels, and 50 lb test line on her trolling outfits.

Umbrella rigs are effective on Lake Murray striped bass

Umbrella rigs are very productive when trolling for Lake Murray striped bass. They can be a bit cumbersome and will tangle when multiple fish are hooked. Umbrella rigs are basically larger versions of the “Alabama rigs” that largemouth bass anglers have made popular. They do a great job of imitating a school of shad. Jacki prefers Capt. Mack’s un-rigged nine bait umbrella rigs. She pairs them all with Striper Sniper buck tail jigs, snake worms, and swim shad baits.

winter striped bass fishing

Striper Sniper 3/4 ounce to 1 ounce white buck tail jigs are tied on each arm of the umbrella rig. The leaders are 6 inches long. A Striper Sniper 10” snake worm or 6” swim bait is added to the jig for extra action. White, chartreuse, glitter, lemon lime, blue pearl, and sun drop are the top producing colors. They have recently introduced a new color called American eel which is next on the list to be tested

Lake Murray striped bass seasons

There are two basic seasons when fishing for Lake Murray striped bass; warm water and cool water. The water temperature is critical to striper migrations. Anglers need to be aware of this migration pattern and adjust accordingly. There is no real “calendar” as every year is different when it comes to weather. Here is Jacki’s advice for adapting to the two “seasons”.

Cooler weather striped bass fishing, fall and winter;

“Once the water temperatures begin to drop, the striped bass tend to start heading back towards the rivers and start coming up closer to the surface even schooling at the surface. We use umbrella rigs trolled at 3 MPH closer to the boat. This keeps them at or above 20 feet below the surface.

We also use planer boards with live herring trolled at about .5 – 1 MPH. We set the lines out 20-30 feet behind the planer. A 3 foot flourocarbon leader of 20-30 lb test is used. A # 3/0 hook completes the rig. We will occasionally run a flat line down the middle, quite a ways back.

Nothing beats casting artificial lures to breaking fish! I always keep a spinning outfit rigged with a topwater plug handy. My favorite bait is a Yo-Zuri 1 ounce plug. I use this when the fish are staying up on the surface. I also keep a Striper Sniper jig with a swim bait ready to go. This works well when fish surface quickly then go down. The jig will get down into the water column.”

Warm water striped bass fishing, spring and summer;

”Once the water begins to warm up, the striped bass start to head back to deeper water away from the rivers and towards the Lake Murray Dam. Anglers fishing in summer should always be able to see the dam. If not, you are too far away. We still use the umbrella rigs trolled at 3 MPH. However, we do so further from the boat to keep them in the 35 – 50 foot range, the lower the better.

We have also been able to put our smaller lighter weight rigs and crank baits on downriggers to drop them into the 60 – 80 foot range. Mid-Summer is also tower fishing season. We tie up to the towers at the Dam and drop live and/or cut bait herring typically to around 60 – 80 foot depths. We use a 1 ounce weight and a 3/0 hook.

Night fishing is a great way to escape the heat and catch some fish. Striped bass feed heavily at night, particularly in the summer time. Anglers do need to be more careful when fishing and boating in the dark. Summer storms can be an issue as well.

Additional Lake Murray species

While Jacki primarily concentrates on striped bass, Lake Murray offers excellent angling for other species. Largemouth bass are arguable the most popular species in the Lake. Much has been written about fishing for bass in the lake. Crappie and panfish are plentiful and Lake Murray has an excellent catffish population. Anglers can find more info and some great links about Lake Murray fishing in this link.

Sacramento striped bass fishing

This article will focus on Sacramento striped bass fishing. There are several rivers in the Sacramento, California area that offer anglers excellent fishing opportunities.

Sacramento River striped bass

The Sacramento River is the largest river in California. Stretching over 400 miles from the eastern slopes of the Klamath Mountains to Suisun Bay, it drains an area of about 27,000 square miles, including many major fishing tributaries. The Sacramento River, The Delta, Mokelumne River, Feather River and the American River flow a short drive from Sacramento. They hold several different species including striped bass, salmon, largemouth and spotted bass, shad, catfish, and sturgeon. Anglers can target these species using several different techniques.

Aimee lives in Elk Grove, near Sacramento, and knows these rivers well. She fishes for a lot of species, both salt and freshwater. Her favorite species are Striped Bass and Salmon when fishing fresh water. While the rivers do offer decent bass fishing, Aimee enjoys the challenge, and great fish, of the larger fish.That is the reason that she targets Sacramento striped bass and salmon.

Striped bass fishing tackle

The same tackle can be used when targeting both species. Aimee only uses Phenix rods. Her personal favorite for casting is a 7’11” M1 Phenix rod with an extra fast action. She jigs with a 6’8” foot slow pitch Titan rod. She matches both with a Diawa Lexa reel and 65 lb braided line. When trolling, Aimee goes with a Phenix X-14 that is 7’11” with an extra fast action.

Striper fishing in California

Heavy tackle is required to catch big fish in the current when targeting Sacramento striped bass and salmon. River and fishing conditions change daily. The best bet is to look online to get current river conditions and fishing reports. Aimee’s favorite sites for this are Navionics and Willy Weather.

Sacramento Striped Bass

Striped bass migrate up into these rivers in the spring to spawn. The best time to target them is from March to May in spring and October to December in the fall. As with most river fishing, water levels and flow are very important. Years that have more rain will see an extended season. Conversely, drought conditions will condense the fishing season.

Sacramento striper

When fishing for striped bass, Aimee uses a couple different techniques. She drifts live bait such as blue gill & minnows. This is a very effective technique and is one almost any angler can use to be successful. Mud sucker minnows are purchased at bait shops. Bluegill and shad are caught by anglers. Larger baits will get less bites but will catch bigger fish.

The rig that Aimee uses for drifting for striped bass is a simple drop back bottom rig. A 3 way swivel is tied on the line. Depending on current flow, sinkers from 2 ounces to 4 ounces. The sinker is placed on a 1 foot dropper line. A 4 foot leader of 15 lb to 30 lb test P-Line FlouroClear flourocarbon leader and a 2/0 to 7/0 hook completes the rig. As in most live bait applications, the hook size should be matched to the bait size, not the size of the fish being targeted.

Sacramento striped bass lures

Aimee really enjoys using artificial lures for these California river striped bass. She casts Delta Wood Bombers and ¾ ounce Ra-L-Traps. Silver/chartreuse, red and white, and chrome with a blue back are her top colors. Aimee also likes casting soft plastic swimbaits on a ¼ ounce or ½ ounce jig head.

California striped bass

Often times fish will be seen feeding on shad and other fish on the surface. This is a great time to cast a large topwater plug! Anglers can also blind cast both topwater and diving plugs neat fallen trees, rip-rap, and other structure and cover.

Trolling is another technique that produces striped bass on the California rivers. Her favorite plug is a Yo-zuri in the 5 1/4” size. Holographic Redhead is a great all-round color. Chartreuse woks well if the water is a bit murky. Trolling is relatively easy. Most anglers put the bow of the boat into the current and slowly work the area thoroughly. Fish are usually found in bunches, especially early in the year.

Artificial lure techniques on Sacramento rivers

Jigging is another very productive technique when targeting Sacramento River stripers. Aimee uses Blade-Runner Spoons for her jigging. Not surprisingly, her favorite color is “Aimee Blue”, named after her. You know she is a serious angler when she has baits named after her! 2 ounce to 3 ounce spoons are the preferred size.

The technique when drifting is fairly simple, whether jigging or using live bait. Anglers drop the lure or bait to the bottom and work it as the boat drifts along. Strong currents make it a bit more challenging. Channel edges and drop offs are prime spots, as are eddies when the river is running hard.

Anglers using live bait will need to adjust the depth of the bait as it drifts along. The idea is to keep the bait just above the bottom. Line will need to be let out and reeled in to adjust to the depth. Anglers jigging do the same thing, only the bait is jerked vertically as the boat moves along. The spoon should tick the bottom regularly.

Tennessee striped bass

Striped bass are a huge success story for the Tennessee fish management professionals. Many if not most of the Tennessee lakes were created in the mid-60s and early 70s by the TVA. These lakes had countless acres of flooded timber, offering perfect habitat for largemouth bass. However, over the years this timber rotted and deteriorated. Largemouth bass moved to other structure.

fishing for striped bass

This left an opportunity for an open water fish species and striped bass were the perfect fit. The Tennessee state record of 65 lbs. 6 oz. caught in Cordell Hull reservoir is an excellent example of a thriving striper population

Striped bass are a saltwater species that can tolerate absolute freshwater. They naturally migrate from saltwater into freshwater rivers to spawn. While striped bass and lakes can reproduce, and most lakes they don’t. This is due to the fact that dams inhibit the migration of fish up into the tributary creeks and rivers.

Forage for striped bass

In order to support this new fishery, forage species needed to be introduced as well. Several different species of shad were introduced and have thrived as well. Shad school up in large numbers over underwater structure. These are the same places where striped bass are found.

Anglers targeting striped bass used two primary methods. Live or cut Shad produces the majority of striped bass by Tennessee anglers. Drifting, slow trolling, and bottom fishing with live baits is extremely productive. The biggest hurdle is catching and keeping the baits alive. Cut Shad will produce as well, though it will also attract large catfish.

Anglers casting artificial lures can catch striped bass as well. This is particularly true when they are found feeding on the surface. This is great fun as any spoon, crank baits, jig, or any other lure cast into the fray will normally draw a strike. Anglers vertically jigging deeper channel edges and blind casting shorelines and rip-rap areas near dams will also produce fish. Where allowed, tell water fisheries just below the dams can produce some fantastic striped bass fishing and Tennessee!

The top Tennessee striped bass fishing lakes are Old Hickory Reservoir, Cordell Hull Reservoir, Caney Fork, Melton Hill Reservoir, and Watts bar Reservoir.

Southwest striped bass

The southwest part of the country has excellent striped bass fishing as well, particularly in north Texas and Oklahoma.

Oklahome striped bass

Texas Striped bass lakes and rivers

The major lakes in Texas with healthy populations of stripers include Amistad Reservoir, Lake Texoma, Toledo Bend, Belton Lake, Canyon Lake, Cedar Creek Reservoir, Lake E.V. Spence, Cooper Lake, Hubbard Creek Reservoir, Lake Bridgeport, Lake Brownwood, Lake Buchanan, Lake Conroe, Lake Granbury, Lake Kemp, Lake Lewisville, Lake Livingston, Lake Lyndon B Johnson, Lake Palestine, Lake Ray Hubbard, Lake Somerville, Lake Tawakoni, Lake Travis, Lake Whitney, Lavon Lake, Medina Lake, Pat Mayse Lake, Possom Kingdom Lake, Proctor Lake, Red Bluff Reservoir, Richland Chambers Reservoir, Sam Rayburn Reservoir, and Wright Patman Lake. The Brazos River yielded the Texas state record striped bass.

Oklahoma Striped Bass lakes and rivers

The Oklahoma lakes and rivers that offer good striped bass fishing include Lake Eufaula, Broken Bow Reservoir, Canton Lake, Lake Murray, Waurika Lake, Fort Cobb Reservoir, Fort Gibson Lake, Grand Lake of the Cherokees, Great Salt Plains Lake, Hugo Lake, Kaw Lake, Keystone Lake, Lake Altus-Lugert, Lake Carl Blackwell, Lake Hudson, Lake Texoma, Oologah Lake, Robert S Kerr Reservoir, Skiatook Reservoir, Sooner Lake, Tom Steed Reservoir, and Webber Falls Reservoir. Most tributaries offer good fishing as well.

California striped bass lakes and rivers

The Colorado River used to support a spawning run of striped bass. This was prior to dame being built. Some large fish are still taken there. Productive California lakes include Lake Havasu, Pyramid Lake, Bucks Lake, Lake Mendocino, Los Vaqueros Reservoir, Millerton Lake, New Hogan Lake, San Luis Reservoir, The Delta, Canyon Lake, Castaic Lake, Diamond Valley Lake, Lake Cahuilla, Lake Hemet, Lake Elsinore, Lake Perris, Silverwood Lake and Skinner Reservoir.

Nevada Striped bass lakes

Lake Mead, Lake Lahontan, Washoe Lake, Lake Mohave, and Rye Patch Reservoir are the top Nevada striped bass Lakes.

In conclusion, this article on fishing for striped bass will help anglers be successful when targeting these terrific game fish!

Top 12 Michigan Game Fish Species

Top 12 Michigan Game Fish Species

smallmouth bass fishing

This post will list the top 12 Michigan game fish species. Michigan offers anglers many excellent fishing opportunities. There are many different techniques used to catch a wide variety of freshwater game fish.

The top 12 Michigan game fish species are;

  • Smallmouth bass
  • Walleye
  • Northern pike
  • Largemouth bass
  • Muskellunge
  • Crappie
  • Panfish
  • Yellow perch
  • Lake trout
  • Trout
  • Salmon
  • catfish

top 12 Michigan game fish species

Special thanks to Christina Robinson for the great pictures! She is a serious multi-species angler in Michigan. Follow Christina on Instagram.

Best Michigan fishing techniques

There are several different techniques that produce for anglers fishing in Michigan. Casting lures and live baits is the most popular technique. It can be done from a boat as well as the shoreline. Casting produces all Michigan game fish.

Michigan fishing

Bottom fishing is a fishing technique that has been around a very long time. Since many fish, walleye in particular, relate to bottom structure, bouncing a live bait or lure off the bottom can be very productive.

Trolling is a very efficient fishing technique which allows anglers to cover a lot of water in search of fish. It produces most of the salmon, lake trout, and walleye caught by Michigan anglers.

top 12 Michigan game fish

Fly fishing is a bit of a specialized technique. Many anglers associate it with stream trout fishing, and for good reason. However, anglers fly fishing will catch most species that are found in shallow water.

Ice fishing is extremely popular in Michigan! Many fish are just as active under the ice as they are in open water. Obviously, no boat is required to enjoy a productive day ice fishing.

ice fishing in Michigan

Top 12 Michigan game fish species

Here is the list of top Michigan game fish species, in no particular order. Tips and top spots will be included.

Michigan smallmouth bass

fishing for bass

Smallmouth bass are a terrific freshwater game fish! They are often associated with rivers, but are certainly found in many Michigan lakes as well. They average a pound or so but grow to over six pounds. The many bays in Lake Michigan in particular provide some of the best smallmouth bass fishing found anywhere.

Read more about smallmouth bass fishing in this article!

Anglers catch smallmouth bass on lures, live baits, and by anglers fly fishing. They can be taken through the ice as well. Smallmouth bass prefer cool, clear water. They are good to eat, but like largemouth bass, the vast majority are released to please other anglers.

Michigan Walleye

walleye fishing in Michigan

Walleye are an extremely popular species, and they are second list of the top 12 Michigan game fish species. Walleye are found in many lakes and river systems. Lake Michigan and Lake Huron give up some of the largest Michigan walleye.Walleye prefer cold, clear water.

Read more about walleye fishing in this article

Walleye usually, but not always, feed on or near the bottom. Trolling is an excellent technique to locate and catch them. Live bait such as nightcrawlers, minnows, and leeches work well. While walleye are not the toughest battlers, they more than make up for it on the dinner plate! Most anglers consider walleye to be the best eating fish caught anywhere.

Michigan northern pike

top Michigan species

Northern pike are an apex predator and certainly are one of the top Michigan game fish. Pike are aggressive and are mostly taken by anglers fishing with large, flashy artificial lures. Spoons, spinners, and plugs are effective lures. However, they will certainly take live baits as well. Northern pike are most often associated with shallow weedy flats. Ice fishing for northern pike is quite popular and productive in Michigan as pike thrive in cold water. They are good to eat, but are bony and a bit difficult to clean.

Michigan largemouth bass

bass fishing in Michigan

Largemouth bass are probably the most popular game fish in the United States, and Michigan offers excellent fishing for them. They are next on the list of the top 12 Michigan game fish species. Tournaments have really resulted in their explosion in popularity.

Read more about largemouth bass fishing in this article!

These hard fighting fish are found in a variety of waters from small ponds to the largest lakes. Largemouth bass prefer warmer, slower moving water. Bass are aggressive predators and are caught by anglers using both lures and live baits. While decent to eat, most anglers practice catch and release.

Michigan muskellunge

Miching game fish species

Muskellunge, also known as “musky”, are a top predator and game fish in Michigan. They grow quite large and are one of the most challenging species to catch. Musky are called the ‘fish of 10,000 casts” for good reason. Most musky are caught by anglers casting artificial lures. They inhabit the same environments as pike, particularly shallow, weedy bays and coves. Afternoon is often the best time to catch them, especially on cloudy days. Very few musky are killed by anglers, most are released.

Michigan crappie

crappie fishing in Michigan

Crappie are next on the list of the top 12 Michigan game fish species. They do not put up a spectacular fight, all things considered. However, they are a beautiful fish that are fantastic eating. Crappie tournaments have increased their popularity. Trolling with jigs or live minnows is extremely productive. Crappie school up and once located, the bite can be fast. Crappie will bite through the ice as well.

Michigan panfish

Michigan panfish

Michigan has an excellent population of bluegill, sunfish, rock bass, and other panfish. Obviously, ultralight tackle is the best choice. Live bait probably accounts for the most fish, though lures will produce, especially for the aggressive bluegill. Worms, maggots, and crickets are top live baits. Spinners and jigs fool them as well. Ice fishing for panfish in very popular in Michigan.

Michigan yellow perch

Michigan yellow perch

Yellow perch are smaller cousins to walleye. They are a beautiful fish that put up a great fight on light tackle and are 8th on the list of top 12 Michigan game fish. Yellow perch school up in larger lakes, especially Lake Michigan. Once located, a bunch of perch can be caught in short order. Jigs and live minnows are the top producers. They prefer cool, clear water. They are a favorite of anglers ice fishing as they feed actively in cold water. Yellow perch are as good an eating fish as any that swims.

Michigan lake trout

Lake trout are the largest of the trout species found in Wisconsin. In fact, they are one of the largest freshwater species in North America. Most lake trout are caught in large, deep lakes, especially the Great Lakes. Trolling is the most productive technique as it allows anglers to cover a lot of water. They put up a decent fight, though a lot of it is just their size. Ice fishing is very productive as lake trout feed actively in cold water. Smaller fish are good to eat, larger specimens are usually released.

Michigan trout species

Michigan brook trout

Michigan offers anglers the opportunity to catch several other trout species; rainbow trout, brown trout, and brook trout. All can be caught through the ice as well as in open water. Brook trout are the smallest, but perhaps the most beautiful. Most Michigan brook trout are caught by anglers fishing smaller streams.

steelhead

Rainbow trout are probably the most recognizable fish in North America, due to the distinctive red stripe. They are heavily stocked and found throughout Michigan in streams, rivers, ponds, and lakes. Fish that move out into the Great Lakes and return to streams to spawn are called “steelhead” trout.

best 13 brown trout fishing lures

Brown trout are abundant in Michigan as well. They are heavily stocked and can tolerate warmer water than the other trout species. Brown trout are also the largest of the three stream trout species. Some very large fish are caught in the Great Lakes!

Michigan salmon

best fishing techniques

There are several different salmon species available to anglers fishing in Michigan. These include chinook or king salmon, coho or silver salmon, Atlantic salmon and pink salmon. Chinook salmon are the largest while Atlantic salmon are the rarest of the four. Pink salmon are usually caught in Great Lakes tributary rivers.

Great Lakes salmon fishing

Most salmon are caught by Michigan anglers trolling in Lake Michigan and Lake Huron. In the fall, the rivers become the top spots as salmon begin their spawning migrations. Salmon populations continually fluctuate due to forage, stocking, and other factors. They are obviously highly desired due to both size and eating quality.

Michigan catfish

Manitoba fishing tips

Catfish are last on the list of top 12 Michigan game fish species. Michigan offers anglers the opportunity to catch all three of the primary North American catfish species; channel catfish, blue catfish, and flathead catfish. Most are taken by anglers fishing live or cut bait in slow moving rivers and lakes. These fish grow large, put up a great fight, and are terrific to eat!

In conclusion, this article on the top 12 Michigan game fish species will help anglers identify and catch these terrific game fish!

Best 5 Fishing Techniques, Pro tips!

Best 5 Fishing Techniques

This post will list the best 5 fishing techniques. These basic fishing techniques will allow anglers to be successful and just about every situation.

best fishing techniques

The best 5 fishing techniques are:

  • Casting
  • Trolling
  • Bottom fishing
  • Drift fishing
  • Fly fishing

Capt. Jim Klopfer is a fishing guide in Sarasota Florida. He has been doing this since 1991. Capt. Jim is a well-rounded angler who has fished all over the country. He has broken down fishing into these best 5 fishing techniques in an attempt to simplify and help anglers better understand how to catch more fish.

Anglers can see the fishing equipment that Capt Jim uses on his fishing charters.

“Fishing Lido Key is a participant in the Amazon Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. ”

smallmouth bass fishing

There are many different baits and lures which can be used. However, they all still fall into the techniques being used as opposed to what’s actually tied onto the end of the line. That is the approach that will be taken in this article.

Best fishing techniques; casting

Casting is the most popular angling technique. This is simply the act of tying on a lure or bait and using the rod and reel to launch the lure or bait a distance away. This can be done from a boat or from shore as well as bridges and piers. Casting has the advantage in that anglers can position their offerings exactly where desired and easily reel it back in and repeat the process.

freshwater fishing tackle

Anglers can cast both natural baits and artificial lures successfully. Artificial lures are cast out and retrieved back in. Live and cut baits are usually allowed to set relatively still and use scent or action to attract fish to the hook.

Casting with lures

Casting and retrieving artificial lures has one huge advantage over anglers fishing with bait; they can cover a lot more water in search of fish. Lures are available in many different variations which allow them to cover the entire water column, from the surface down to the bottom.

fishing for largemouth bass

Lures are usually cast out towards some type of structure that an angler think may hold fish. This includes man-made structure such as docks and natural structure including vegetation, points, drop-offs, and ledges. Fish will strike lures for a variety of reasons other than hunger. These include anger, excitement, competition, and defense.

Bait fishing

Many anglers cast out a live or cut bait in search of fish. This was probably the way man first began to fish, by attaching some live bait to a hook and throwing it into the water. As simple as this is, it still continues to catch fish to this day. It is perhaps the most dependable fishing technique out there and works well for novice anglers.

top 25 Carolina game fish

Live bait can be presented in a variety of manners. Anglers can fish it under a float to suspend the bait at the desired level as well is using the float to indicate a strike. This is often done when casting to shoreline vegetation in fairly shallow water. Bait can also be allowed to swim on it so naturally with nothing but a hook. This is called free lining a bait.

guide to inshore saltwater fishing

Many anglers cast a bait out with the use of a sinker or weight. The weight not only provides the angler the ability to cast the bait out quite a distance, it also takes it down to the bottom were many fish feed. This is especially true with any type of cut bait or commercially prepared baits.

Anglers can purchase Capt Jim’s E-book, “Inshore Saltwater Fishing” for $5 by clicking on the title link. It is 23,000 words long and covers tackle, tactics, and species.

Best fishing techniques; trolling

Trolling is a very effective fishing technique. It basically involves slowly moving the boat forward while pulling multiple lines behind. Technically, trolling can be accomplished by anglers walking a shoreline or seawall, but the vast majority of trolling is done with a boat. The primary advantage is to be able to offer multiple baits at various depths. This aids greatly in finding fish when they are scattered out over a large area or suspended in open water.

top 25 carolina game fish

There are several methods that anglers can use when trolling to get the lures or baits down to the desired depth. The easiest trolling method is to use diving plugs. These are hard bodied lures that resemble bait fish. They have a large lip on the front which determines the depth at which the plug will run. This makes it fairly easy for an angler to work the depth that is desired. These lures have excellent built in action as well.

walleye fishing, a beginners guide

Sinkers are another fairly simple method used by anglers when trolling to control the depth at which there baits will run. Anglers have the choice of using an in-line sinker or a sinker on a drop her off of a three-way swivel. Both work fine, though the in-line sinker is used in open water and the three-way swivel is used when snags are more of a problem.

Trolling techniques

Downrigger’s are expensive and a bit more complicated, but are an excellent tool to use to control depth when trolling. It looks like a small fishing rod with an arm and a real. It uses a wire cable and a heavy ball to get down to the desired depth. There is a clip on the ball that releases when a fish strikes. This technique was developed by anglers in the Great Lakes to catch salmon and trout.

salmon fishing in Great Lakes

Planers are the final method used by anglers when trolling to control depth. These are clever devices that dig down into the water when pulled then trip or release when a fish strikes. They are more common in saltwater fishing that in freshwater fishing and allow anglers to troll quite fast, up to 7 miles an hour or so.

Light tackle trolling in Saltwater

While lures are mostly used, anglers can use live bait with this fishing technique as well. This is a bit of a specialty application used in salt water and in freshwater for striped bass. Anglers control live bait using sinkers or behind a downrigger.

Best fishing techniques; bottom fishing

Bottom fishing is an extremely effective fishing technique. The reality is that more fish relate to bottom structure then do those that swim or suspend in the middle of the water column. Structure on the bottom provides cover and safety as well as forage. Therefore, presenting a lure or live bait on the bottom will be productive and many fishing situations.

mutton snapper

Most bottom fishing is done by anglers using live or cut bait. Since artificial lures are usually on the move, they are not quite as effective when bottom fishing. Conversely, both live bait and cut bait our perfect for bottom fishing. Anglers have several different rigs to choose from, but all are similar in that they use a weight or sinker and a hook or hooks to present a live bait or chunk of cut bait on the bottom.

Most bottom fishing is done on some type of structure. In freshwater fishing, this can include fallen timber, submerged rock piles, sloping points, and channel edges as well as man-made structures such as bridges. Anglers saltwater fishing will bottom fish over natural reefs and ledges, wrecks, artificial reefs, and more.

Manitoba fishing tips

While most bottom fishing is done with live or cut bait, anglers can certainly present artificial lures on the bottom as well. This is most often done with slow-moving soft plastic baits such as plastic worms and to baits. Jigs can also be used. While not strictly considered bottom fishing, these lures are slowly worked or crawled across the bottom in search of fish.

Best fishing techniques; drift fishing

Drift fishing is a very efficient angling technique. It is similar to trolling in that anglers can cover a good amount of area in search of fish while keeping the baits directly in the strike zone. The difference is that instead of using a boat to move the lures or baits, natural elements such as current and wind are used to move the boat over a productive area.

walleye fishing tackle and lures

The two primary components involved in drift fishing are wind and current. In freshwater fishing lakes, when will be the determining factor in most cases, though there are situations where current can be strong. In saltwater fishing, current created by tidal flow are much stronger. Wind is certainly a factor as well.

The basic technique for drift fishing is fairly simple. An angler determines the area that he or she wants to fish, then positions the boat upwind or up tide of the area to be fished. The boat then slowly drifts across that area while lures are presented at the desired depth. Baits are often presented right on the bottom in this situation. Live and cut baits are very effective. Anglers can certainly present live baits or lures anywhere in the water column while drift fishing.

best Sarasota fishing charter

The two top artificial lures used when drift fishing are bucktail jigs and jigging spoons. Both are very effective lures that work well and a drift fishing situation. They put out great action when presented vertically and can be used to work the entire water column. Anglers can even combine the two and use a jig or spoon with a live bait or piece of cut bait attached.

Fly fishing

Fly fishing is the most difficult fishing technique to master. There are a lot of factors involved. Many books have been written on the subject but we will briefly cover fly fishing here.

Sarasota Spanish mackerel fishing

The primary difference between fly fishing and other types of fishing are that with fly fishing the the line is cast out and the fly follows behind. In all other types of fishing, the lure or bait provides the weight. However, fishing flies weight next to nothing it would be impossible to cast using their weight alone.

Flies can be used to work the entire water column from the surface down to the bottom. Anglers have a wide variety of choices and lines and flies that allow them to do so. Floating lines will stay on the surface while anglers can purchase sinking lines that sink at varying rates to match the current fishing conditions.

streamer fishing

The fly itself can mimic either a fly or just about any other type of forage that fish feed on. Many anglers associate fly fishing with trout fishing and streams, but anglers fly fish for just about every species in both fresh and saltwater. Any fish that will take and artificial lure can be caught on a fly.

In conclusion, this article on the best five fishing techniques will hopefully simplify all of the fishing variables and help anglers be more successful out on the water!

Top 15 Wisconsin Game Fish Species

Top 16 Wisconsin Game Fish Species

This post will list the top 16 Wisconsin game fish species. Wisconsin offers anglers some of the best freshwater fishing opportunities in North America! Most of these species can be caught through the ice as well.

Wisconsin game fish

Thanks to Jennifer for the great pics of Wisconsin game fish. Anglers can follow Jennifer on Instagram.

The top 16 Wisconsin game fish species are:

  • Muskellunge
  • Walleye
  • Smallmouth bass
  • Largemouth bass
  • Northern pike
  • Crappie
  • Panfish
  • Brook trout
  • Rainbow trout
  • Brown trout
  • Lake trout
  • Coho salmon
  • Chinook salmon
  • Channel catfish
  • Flathead catfish
  • Lake sturgeon

These species all offer anglers great sport and some are terrific to eat as well. The list of each species will include some tips and interesting facts.

Wisconsin Muskellunge

Wisconsin game fish

Muskellunge, also known as “musky”, are a top predator and game fish in Wisconsin. They grow quite large and are one of the most challenging species to catch. Musky are called the ‘fish of 10,000 casts” for good reason. Most musky are caught by anglers casting artificial lures. They inhabit the same environments as pike, particularly shallow, weedy bays and coves. Afternoon is often the best time to catch them. Very few musky are killed by anglers, most are released.

Wisconsin Walleye

walleye

Walleye are an extremely popular species, and they are second list of the top 16 Wisconsin game fish species. Walleye are found in many lakes and river systems. Walleye prefer cold, clear water. They usually, but not always, feed on or near the bottom. Trolling is an excellent technique to locate and catch walleye. Live bait such as nightcrawlers, minnows, and leeches work well. While walleye are not the toughest battlers, they more than make up for it on the dinner plate! Most anglers consider walleye to be the best eating fish caught anywhere.

Wisconsin Smallmouth bass

Wisconsin fish species

Smallmouth bass are a terrific freshwater game fish! They are often associated with rivers, but are certainly found in many Wisconsin lakes as well. They average a pound or so but grow to over six pounds. The Green Bay and Sturgeon Bay areas provides some of the best smallmouth bass fishing found anywhere. Anglers catch them on both lures and live baits. Smallmouth bass prefer cool, clear water. They are good to eat, but like largemouth bass, the vast majority are released to please other anglers.

Wisconsin Largemouth bass

Wisconsin bass

Largemouth bass are probably the most popular game fish in the United States, and Wisconsin offers excellent fishing for them. They are next on the list of the top 16 Wisconsin game fish species. Tournaments have really resulted in their explosion in popularity. They are found in a variety of waters from small ponds to the largest lakes. Largemouth bass prefer warmer, slower moving water. Bass are aggressive predators and are caught by anglers using both lures and live baits. While decent to eat, most anglers practice catch and release.

Wisconsin Northern pike

Wisconsin northern pike

Northern pike are an apex predator and certainly are one of the top Wisconsin game fish. Pike are aggressive and are mostly taken by anglers fishing with large, flashy artificial lures. Spoons, spinners, and plugs are effective lures. However, they will certainly take live baits as well. Northern pike are most often associated with shallow weedy flats. Ice fishing for northern pike is quite popular and productive as pike thrive in cold water. They are good to eat, but are bony and a bit difficult to clean.

Wisconsin Crappie

Wisconsin game fish species

Crappie are next on the list of the top 16 Wisconsin game fish species. They do not put up a spectacular fight, all things considered. However, they are a beautiful fish that are fantastic eating, perhaps only second to walleye in that regard. Crappie tournaments have increased their popularity. Trolling with jigs or live minnows is extremely productive. Crappie school up and once located, the bite can be fast. Crappie will bite through the ice as well. Many anglers target them in the spring when they move in shallow and are easier to catch as they spawn. Determined anglers will catch them year-round over deeper structure.

Wisconsin Panfish

bluegill

Bluegill and panfish do not grow very large, however they are every bit the game fish. Pound for pound, they are one of the toughest little battlers an angler will encounter. Wisconsin has an excellent population of bluegill, sunfish, rock bass, and other panfish. Obviously, ultralight tackle is the best choice. Live bait probably accounts for the most fish, though lures will produce, especially for the aggressive bluegill.

yellow perch

One of the reasons for the popularity of bluegill and other panfish is there accessibility. These species inhabit just about every warm freshwater body of water in the United States, and Wisconsin is no exception. Many are caught through the ice. Also, due to their prolific nature, anglers can keep a bunch of fish with a clear conscience. Bluegill and panfish are fantastic on the dinner plate.

Wisconsin Brook trout

best trout tackle

Brook trout are the smallest of the three major trout species. They demand cold, clean, clear water. Brook trout are most often caught shallow, even in the tiniest of streams, though Lake Michigan gives up some big brook trout. They are very active under the ice. Most are taken in lakes on live bait and small spinners and spoons. Brook trout are the only stream trout that are native to Wisconsin. Flies and other small lures work well in streams. Many anglers consider brook trout to be the best eating on the trout species.

Wisconsin Rainbow trout

rainbow trout fishing lures

Rainbow trout are one of the most recognizable fish species, with their bright red stripe. Wisconsin has an excellent population of rainbow trout in streams, rivers, and lakes. They are heavily stocked to please anglers. Spinners, spoons, flies, and live and prepared baits will all fool rainbow trout. Trolling works well in larger lakes. Fly fishing is popular in streams. Rainbow trout that move into Lake Michigan and then back to the rivers are called “steelhead trout” as they take on a different look. Rainbow trout are excellent to eat.

Wisconsin Brown trout

best 13 brown trout fishing lures

Brown trout grow the largest of the three major trout species and are next on the list of top 16 Wisconsin game fish species. They also tolerate the warmest water, resulting in them being the most widely distributed. Brown trout generally prefer larger streams and lakes. Casting, trolling, and fly fishing are all effective techniques. Ice fishing produces as well. Lake Michigan holds some very large brown trout. Smaller specimens are quite good to eat.

Wisconsin Lake trout

Alberta fishing tips

Lake trout are the largest of the trout species found in Minnesota. In fact, they are one of the largest freshwater species in North America. Most lake trout are caught in Lake Michigan. Trolling is the most productive technique as it allows anglers to cover a lot of water. They put up a decent fight, though a lot of it is just their size. Ice fishing is very productive as lake trout feed actively in cold water. Smaller fish are good to eat.

Wisconsin Coho salmon

Minnesota salmon fishing

Coho salmon, also known as silver salmon, are a smaller, but more numerous salmon species. They, like chinook salmon, in Wisconsin they are found in Lake Michigan and it’s tributaries. Trolling works best in the big lake while casting and fly fishing produces in the rivers. Coho salmon are terrific to eat.

Wisconsin Chinook Salmon

Great Lakes salmon fishing

Chinook salmon, or king, salmon are primarily caught in Lake Michigan and it’s tributary rivers and streams. They are a fantastic game fish whether caught trolling in deep water or on fly tackle in the rivers. Chinook salmon were stocked decades ago and their numbers seem to rise and fall. Obviously, chinook salmon are fantastic eating.

Channel catfish

Manitoba fishing tips

Channel catfish are the most widely distributed and numerous members of the three major catfish found in North America. They are quite abundant and plentiful and most warm water bodies of water in Wisconsin. They put up an excellent battle for anglers using tackle matched to their size. The vast majority of catfish are caught by anglers using live or cut bait. However, channel catfish are not scavengers and prefer a fresh dead or live bait over a stinking rotting piece of meat on the bottom. Quite a few channel catfish are caught by anglers casting artificial lures for bass and other species as well. Slow moving rivers and lakes are top spots to catch them. They are fantastic eating!

Flathead catfish

flathead catfish fishing

Flathead catfish, also known as yellow cats, are a bit of a specialty catfish species. Most anglers who catch them do so on purpose. They prefer slow-moving rivers and are more solitary than the other two catfish species. They are much less prevalent than channel catfish. Most of them are caught by anglers using large live bait such as panfish or suckers. They grow quite large, reaching weights of over 100 pounds, and are good to eat.

Lake sturgeon

top fish species

Sturgeon are a success story in Wisconsin, though the species is always in danger. Stocking efforts and strict management resulted in the sturgeon fishery rebounding. Habitat quality and dams are the primary obstacles to their success. Pacific sturgeon grow very large, lake surgeon in Wisconsin are big, but not the giants seen out west. They are caught in lakes and rivers by anglers bottom fishing.

In conclusion, this article on the top 16 Wisconsin game fish species will help anglers achieve more success!

7 Useful Flounder Fishing Tips

7 Useful Flounder Fishing Tips

In this post we will feature 7 useful flounder fishing tips. Flounder are a very popular species targeted by anglers all along the coasts of the Atlantic Ocean and Gulf of Mexico. They put up a nice little scrap, however they are mostly prized for their incredible fillets. While fishing for flounder is not complicated, there are some specialized techniques that will help anglers be more successful.

flounder fishing tips

The 7 useful flounder fishing tips are;

  • present baits or lures right on the bottom for flounder
  • constantly moving baits or lures will produce more flounder
  • jigs are effective flounder fishing lures
  • minnows and shrimp are the top live baits for flounder
  • flounder are structure oriented fish
  • strips of cut bait are very effective flounder baits
  • understand how tides will affect flounder fishing

Best flounder fishing tackle

light tackle bottom fishing

There is no special tackle required for flounder fishing. The same tackle anglers use for inshore saltwater fishing for species such as redfish and striped bass will work fine when chasing flounder as well. A medium spinning outfit and a light conventional outfit will cover just about every flounder fishing situation.

Capt Jim has been a fishing guide in Sarasota, Florida since 1991. Anglers who are interested in purchasing the equipment that he uses and writes about in his articles and reports can do so HERE on the PRODUCTS page.

Anglers can read more about flounder and fluke fishing tackle

Spinning tackle works well when casting lighter lures and baits as well as when fishing in fairly shallow water. Lighter sinkers and lures will be used in these waters and spinning tackle will handle this job just fine. A 7 foot medium action spinning rod with a 3000 series reel spooled up with 20 pound braided line is an excellent all round combination.

flounder fishing in Florida

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Bikini fishing

Anglers can purchase Capt Jim’s E-book, “Inshore Saltwater Fishing” for $5 by clicking on the title link. It is 23,000 words long and covers tackle, tactics, and species.

Conventional tackle works well when flounder fishing in deeper water or and stronger currents. The heavier rod and more powerful reel will work better when drifting or fishing with weights in excess of several ounces. It is also better when catching larger flounder around heavy cover. A medium light conventional rod between 6 feet long and 7 feet long with a matching reel and 30 pound braided line will get the job done.

Flounder are caught on the bottom

fishing for flounder with jigs

Flounder spend the vast majority of their time on or very near the bottom. They are a very unusual fish in the flatfish family. Flounder begin their life swimming upright like most normal fish with an eye on each side of its head. As it matures, one eye migrates to the other side and the flounder spends the rest of its life swimming on its side looking up. This makes it perfect for lying in the sand and waiting to ambush unsuspecting prey.

For these reasons, angling techniques that present the lure or bait on the bottom will be the most successful when fishing for flounder. Anglers using live bait can choose from a variety of bottom fishing rigs. Perhaps the most popular when flounder fishing is the sliding sinker rig or Carolina rig. With this rig an egg sinker is placed on the running line followed by a swivel. A leader between 18 inches and 36 inches long then connects the hook to the swivel.

Saltwater fishing with artificial lures

This rig allows the bait to flutter naturally as the sinker bounces along the bottom. Some anglers even at a spinner in front of the hook to add flash and vibration. This works extremely well on shallow water flats. Anglers fishing in deeper water will often go with a spreader rig or chicken rig. This works well in a vertical presentation, especially in deeper water. Anglers surf fishing for flounder will do well using both rigs.

Moving baits catch more flounder

Since flounder often lie in ambush, waiting on prey, baits that are constantly moving are usually more productive. This includes live baits, cut baits, and artificial lures. A live or cut bait drifting along naturally with the current or slowly trolled by a boat is a very realistic and effective presentation. Flounder will take the bait as it drifts by. Often times, the angler thinks that the bait is snagged when suddenly the snagged comes to life.

flounder fishing tips

Anglers using artificial lures for flounder will take the same approach, whether casting or drifting. Flounder are often found on the shallow flats, and water 23 feet deep and 10 feet deep. A jig is an effective lure to be cast out and bounced along the bottom. In deeper water, a vertical presentation works well.

Jigs are the best flounder fishing lure

The top artificial lure when flounder fishing is unquestionably a jig. The reason for this is that a jig can be presented right on the bottom, which is where flounder’s feed. There are periods when flounder become active in will rise up quite a ways off the bottom to inhale a jig. Anglers are often pleasantly surprised when this occurs as a fish for other species.

saltwater fishing with artificial lures

The most popular jig is a 1 ounce to 2 ounce white buck tail jig. This is an effective lure that will catch flounder, and just about every other species, anywhere and saltwater. In shallow water the jig can be cast out and retrieved along the bottom while in deeper water a vertical presentation works best. Anglers will often sweeten the jig with a strip of squid, or other cut bait.

Soft plastic jigs work well for flounder. A 4 inch paddle tail soft plastic bait on a 1/2 ounce jig head works quite well and water that is fairly shallow. It is easily cast with a spinning rod and anglers can cover a lot of water in search of flounder. Scented soft plastic baits work very well, with the Gulp line of baits being the top choice.

flounder fishing

Live baits are effective for flounder fishing

The two most popular live baits when flounder fishing are minnows and shrimp. Both are extremely effective throughout the range were flounder live. Shrimp are especially popular all along the Gulf Coast and in the southeast part of the United States. Minnows are used for flounder fishing anywhere they are found, as this is a prime forage for them.

Both live minnows and live shrimp are fish in a similar manner. Live minnows are hooked through the lips up from the bottom. Shrimp are hooked under the horn in the head in front of the black spot which is their brain. Both of these methods result in the bait staying alive and looking natural when presented to flounder. Also, both baits are readily available at bait and tackle shops that cater to inshore saltwater anglers. The minnow species will vary depending on geographical location.

bottom fishing

The two best ways to present a live minnow or shrimp is on a Carolina rig or on a jig head. A jig head is handy in that it combines the hook and weight into one tidy little unit. Anglers casting a jig and grub combination can easily remove the grub and place a minnow or shrimp on the hook. It Carolina rig is also an excellent way to present live bait as the leader allows for it to move with the current, resulting in a very natural presentation.

Flounder relate to structure

While flounder can be found on open flats, they almost always prefer to relate to some type of structure. This can be both natural and man-made. The most common natural structure are ledges or areas of rocky or hard bottom. This is true for both flounder inshore and out in the open waters of the Atlantic Ocean and Gulf of Mexico. Often times, flounder will be in the sand right at the edge of the reef or ledge.

Chesapeake Bay fish species

Anglers fishing for flounder on offshore structure can choose to either anchor or drift fish. Anchoring works best on smaller patches of structure while drifting is a good option on larger pieces or in deeper water where anchoring is more troublesome. Even when anchored, it is best to be constantly moving the bait in search of flounder. Artificial reefs are plentiful and some areas and almost all will hold flounder at one time or another.

Much of the structure found in inshore waters will be man-made. This includes boat docks, piers, rip-rap, jetties, and bridges. Structure such as this found in inlets and passes is especially productive as flounder like to lie in wait and let the current bring forage to them. Anglers do need to be careful when the current is strong. The best time to fish is often near the time that the tide switches as the current slackens. Anglers can either anchor close to the structure or drift, depending on conditions.

Cut bait produces flounder

Cut bait is extremely effective for flounder fishing. Just about any type of fish that can be caught and legally used for bait will produce. The white belly section is often the most productive part of the bait fish to use. Anglers can cut the bait fish into chunks, however long slender strips that taper to a point are usually more effective as they undulate naturally in the current.

Fishing for flounder

Anglers can certainly purchase cut bait at bait and tackle shops as well. Squid is a universal cut bait that is readily available, affordable, and productive on just about every saltwater fish that swims. Again, anglers cutting the squid into strips with slowly tapering points are generally the most effective.

Cut bait has several advantages over live bait. It is less expensive generally, and is more convenient as anglers do not have to keep it alive. It is also quite durable it is the top choice in areas where crabs are plentiful and will quickly devour a live bait. Cut bait also stays on the hook longer, which is one reason it is a favorite amongst anglers surf fishing for flounder.

Tides affect flounder movement and locations

It is important to understand how tides affect fish migrations and saltwater, and this is true with flounder fishing as well. In the southeast part of the country around North Florida to the lower Carolinas, tides can range as much is 10 feet. This will drastically affect where flounder will be found given a certain stage of the tide.

flounder fishing tackle

To keep it simple, on the low tide flounder will be found on the deeper edges and in holes. As the tide comes in, fish will move out from these deeper areas and onto the flats to feed. At high tide, the fish will scatter out and may be found anywhere on a flat. As the tide turns to move out, flounder will move with it and often stage in predictable locations. Edges that drop off into deeper water in the mouths of tributary creeks or cuts in a flat are prime spots to catch flounder on an outgoing tide.

In conclusion, this article on seven useful flounder fishing tips will help anglers understand the habits of flounder in the tackle and techniques required to catch more of these delicious saltwater fish!

Great Lakes Salmon Fishing

Great Lakes Salmon Fishing

Great Lakes salmon fishing

This article will thoroughly cover Great Lakes salmon fishing. While walleye, smallmouth bass, and trout are very popular species, many anglers consider salmon to be the ultimate prize. The tackle, tactics, and techniques used by top professional and recreational anglers will be shared in this post.

Salmon were introduced into the Great Lakes as early as the 1800s. The fishery has certainly had its ups and downs over time. However, salmon stocks are steady and doing well currently. It is important for anglers to properly identify each salmon species as well as understanding the current regulations where he or she is fishing.

These regulations vary by region. It is also import to properly identify trout and salmon species.  Here is a link to help.

Chinook salmon in the Great Lakes

Great Lakes salmon fishing

The Chinook salmon, also known as king salmon, is the largest species of salmon that anglers will find in the Great Lakes fishery. They were introduced in the 1800s but failed. However, they were successfully reintroduced in the mid-60s and are currently doing well. Male Chinook salmon usually live for a couple of years and females from 3-4 years. Mature female Chinook are obviously larger.

Chinook salmon make their spawning runs up tributary rivers in late summer and into fall. By mid October, the run is pretty much over and the fish have turned quite dark. This is quite similar to the way Chinook salmon on the West Coast behave. Mature Chinook salmon in the Great Lakes average 8-10 pounds with 30 pounds being a nice fish!

Coho salmon are popular as well

salmon fishing

Coho salmon are the next largest species of salmon found in the Great Lakes fishery. They were introduced in the late 60’s as well. The Coho salmon are mostly responsible for the popularity of salmon fishing in this region. Early in the year, Coho salmon can be caught by anglers fishing from shore. In the summer, they move out deeper.

Coho salmon follow a similar spawning migration to the Chinook salmon. In most cases, anglers will encounter more Chinook in rivers than Coho salmon. An average Coho will weigh 8 pounds with 20 pounds being a nice fish.

Great Lakes pink salmon

pink salmon

Pink salmon are the smallest of the Pacific salmon, averaging 3-5 pounds. They established themselves in Lake Huron in the 1950s. Pink salmon are the are most numerous in Lake Huron tributaries, with the Carp River and the St. Mary’s River being top spots.

Pink salmon ordinarily spawn every two years. However, enough one year old and three year old salmon spawn, resulting in fish being found in the rivers every season.

Atlantic salmon

Atlantic salmon are renowned for their fighting abilities. They pull very hard and often leap high out of the water. While they can be caught in the open water, most anglers target them in fast-moving rivers from early fall into winter.

Great Lakes salmon fishing tackle

Anglers fishing for salmon in the Great Lakes will require vastly different tackle, depending on the type of water they are fishing and the size of the fish being targeted. Trolling with conventional tackle is by far the most productive technique in the open waters. Anglers fishing the Great Lakes from shore most often use spinning tackle, however light conventional tackle can be used as well.

salmon fishing in Great Lakes

Once the salmon move into tributary rivers and streams, spinning and fly tackle are predominantly used. In the larger rivers with deeper holes and pools, some anglers do use conventional tackle control and present natural bait.

Trolling tackle for salmon in the Great Lakes

trolling with downriggers

As mentioned above, the vast majority of salmon caught by anglers fishing in the Great Lakes is done so by trolling. While the active trolling is simply driving the boat along at slow speeds while pulling lures or cut baits behind, it is much more complicated than that. Speed and depth control are extremely important. Trolling multiple lines at various depths and lengths behind the boat takes practice, particularly on a breezy, choppy day.

Conventional outfits are best suited for this type of fishing. Casting is not required, as the lines are simply let out behind the boat. Conventional reels hold a lot of line and reels most often used for salmon trolling have line counters on them. The rods are often a bit longer and limber. This allows them to absorb the shock when a big fish hits.

walleye trolling rods

Fortunately, several manufacturers offer gear specifically designed for this type of fishing. Diawa in particular has an affordably priced line of gear called “Accudepth” in which the reels have line counters on them. This allows anglers to know exactly how far back behind the boat their presentations are. This is invaluable and both repeating a strike as well as keeping lines from tangling.

Diawa also manufactures a line of rods specifically designed for Great Lakes trolling which match up well with their reels. Anglers have other choices when it comes to manufacturers as well.

Spinning tackle has a place for salmon fishing

Spinning tackle is the best choice for anglers casting lures or baits. This is true whether fishing from the shore and casting into one of the Great Lakes as well as fishing streams and rivers. Anglers can use spinning tackle when fishing for salmon in the Great Lakes from a boat, though it is not the best choice for trolling.

top freshwater fish species

There is no one size spinning outfit that works best for all applications. Salmon vary widely in size and anglers need to match the tackle to the size of the fish being pursued and the environment in which they are doing so. Anglers chasing smaller salmon in the 5 pound range will do fine with a 7 foot medium action rod paired with a 3000 series reel Spooled with 8 pound to 10 pound test line. Obviously, anglers chasing larger fish and big, fast-moving rivers will need to bump up the tackle size significantly.

Great Lakes salmon fishing techniques

There are a variety of productive techniques that anglers Great Lakes salmon fishing can use to be successful. Often times that decision is made based on the time of the season being fished. Early in the year, anglers can catch salmon from the shores of several of the Great Lakes. By summer, just about all of the fish have moved out into open waters, seeking cooler temperatures. By early fall, many fish have moved into the tributary rivers and streams to spawn.

Great Lakes salmon fishing

Trolling is the most effective technique for catching salmon in the Great Lakes

Trolling is an extremely productive technique when salmon fishing in the Great Lakes. It is an efficient way to fish as anglers can present multiple baits at multiple depths while covering a lot of water in search of fish. However, it is a technical method that requires anglers to constantly adjust lines and pay attention to factors such as speed, wind, and current.

There are several different ways in which an angler can get his or her lures and baits down into the water column. These include flatlining, sinkers, downriggers, planers, and lead core lines. All have advantages and disadvantages in situations where one is a better choice than the other.

Flatlining

The easiest trolling method when fishing for salmon and other species is flatlining. This is simply tying on the lure or bait and letting it out behind the boat while it is slowly moved forward. Diving plugs are most often used with this technique. Plugs come in a wide assortment of sizes, shapes, and colors. The bill on the front of the plug will determine the depth that which it will dive, along with the diameter of the fishing line.

Great Lakes salmon fishing

Trolling with diving plugs is fairly easy and works best early and late in the season when salmon are shallow. The maximum depth that most trolling plugs will reach is around 30 feet deep. Therefore, when salmon are staged in deeper water off shore, the plugs will not reach the required depth. Successful anglers use different plugs at different depths to determine where salmon are feeding that day.

Using trolling sinkers to get down in the water column

Sinkers are another fairly easy method that anglers can use to get there offerings down into the water column. Weights can be added right to the line using clips. This method is advantageous in that anglers can quickly and easily changed the way to adjust to the current conditions. In-line sinkers are also used, they are not as easily changed. Trolling sinkers work very well when fishing for salmon with spoons.

Trolling with planers

Planers are clever devices that will dig down into the water and present a lure or bait at a determined depth. This depth is determined by the shape of the planer and the position where it is clipped on. The most often used planer in the Great Lakes region is the venerable Dipsey Diver. When a fish strikes, the clip is pulled loose and the fish can be fought without the resistance of the planer.

Trolling with downriggers

Downriggers were basically invented by anglers fishing the Great Lakes for salmon, steelhead, and lake trout. They consist of a real and a small arm with a cable that has a heavy lead ball at the end. The downrigger ball is lowered to the desired depth. It has a clip on it which will release the line when a fish strikes. Downriggers are the mainstay of serious Great Lakes anglers. They come in both manual and electric versions.

lead core lines are another trolling option

Lead core lines are the final method used by Great Lakes anglers when trolling. As the name implies, these are plastic fishing line with a lead core center. The depth is determined by the number of sections of lead core line used. This can be a bit cumbersome, especially for the novice angler and requires care to keep the line from twisting. However it is an excellent method that should be in every Great Lakes anglers repertoire.

Trolling for salmon in the Great Lakes

As mentioned above, one of the great advantages of trolling is the ability for anglers to cover a lot of water in a short period of time in search of fish. However, that does not mean that anglers should simply fish anywhere and hope for the best. There are several factors which will help increase the odds of success.

Reliable, current fishing reports are invaluable! These can come from online forms, reports from charter boat captains, bait shops, radio chatter, and more. When the bite is on, it is usually hard to keep it a secret.

Locating forage fish is another extremely important element when trolling for salmon in the Great Lakes. In fact, it may be the most important component of all. Fish that large are usually not very far from their food source. A quality sonar unit and the ability to read it are invaluable tools for any angler trolling in open water.

Locating structure can be the key to trolling success

Structure is another component that anglers need to take into account. In the Great Lakes, this mostly consists of rocky bottom and ledges. These areas of structure and an otherwise featureless bottom will attract both bait fish and game fish. Most of these areas are already known and the GPS numbers can be found in a variety of locations.

In the summer time, large bodies of water stratify. This means that they separate themselves into layers based on water temperature. The spot where transitions is called the thermocline. Locating this can be crucial when trolling for salmon in the summer time. Experienced anglers will easily see this on a quality bottom machine.

Setting up the trolling spread is important

Properly putting out the lines, also known as setting up the spread, is an extremely important aspect when trolling for salmon and other species. Much of what it takes to be successful will only be learned from experience. However, the following information will help novice anglers get started.

River salmon fishing in the Great Lakes

Every fall, Chinook and coho salmon leave the large open lakes and head to the tributary rivers to spawn. This is true for both stocks fish and naturally reproducing salmon. All five of the Great Lakes see some type of salmon spawning run. However, the majority of fish come from Lake Michigan. The Muskegon River sees the bulk of these salmon. While there are some coho salmon, Chinook salmon are the majority of fish that will run up into the river.

Salmon start showing up in the Great Lakes tributary rivers as early as late August. However, the bigger pushes of fish will be seen and late September through mid November. October is the prime time to fish for salmon in the Great Lakes rivers.

Fish will stage in the deeper poles while waiting to move up river. This is the best time to catch them. The further along in the spawning process that the fish are, the more difficult they are to catch. In reality, salmon are not interested in feeding at all once they move into the rivers.

River salmon fishing tackle

These freshwater trophies are caught by anglers using conventional tackle, spinning tackle, and fly tackle. Many anglers consider Chinook, or king, salmon caught on a fly rod to be the ultimate sport. 8wt to 10wt rods are used as these are large fish that are often hooked in swift currents. Leader tippets of 10 pound to 12 pound test are most often used. Spey rods are an excellent choice as well.

Anglers using both spinning and conventional tackle will do best with a medium heavy rods around 8 feet long with a matching reel. This will allow for long casts and the ability to fight a heavy fish in a swift current. Eggs and Rose Sachs are often used. Anglers casting artificial lures do best with large spinners and medium-sized plugs.

Salmon fishing in the Great Lakes

All five of the Great Lakes offer salmon fishing. Each lake is a bit different as far as species and options. The five lakes will be covered individually with species, best times, and ports.

Lake Michigan salmon fishing

Anglers start catching Chinooks (king salmon) by the first of July and the bite remains steady through August when they move to the river mouths. Coho salmon then become fairly numerous.

Lake Michigan is the second largest of the Great Lakes. It is entirely in the United States, unlike the other four. Lake Michigan borders Michigan, Indiana, Wisconsin, and Illinois. Changes in forage have resulted in a decline in salmon fishing, but hopefully it will rebound.

Top Lake Michigan ports

St. Ignace

This town is located on the southern tip of the upper peninsula. It is the primary point to access both the upper and lower peninsula. Many consider this area, which is close to Mackinac Island, to have the best salmon fishing in Michigan.

Escanaba

This town lies on Little Bay de Noc. The Escanaba River enters Lake Michigan at this location.

Manistique

This is another town on the upper peninsula with a river (the Manistique River) entering Lake Michigan. Many anglers consider it the best spot to catch a trophy Chinook salmon.

Traverse City

This is a popular town on the lower peninsula that offers anglers easy access to Lake Michigan. It is an excellent family destination with good fishing for salmon and other species.

Ludington

Ludington is on the western section of the lower peninsula. It has a variety of fishing opportunities that attract a lot of tourists. Salmon and steelhead fishing is very popular and productive in the fall and winter. This is a great area for anglers without a boat to catch salmon from piers and the shore.

Lake Superior salmon fishing

Lake Superior is the largest lake in North America. It is on the borders on Ontario, Michigan, Wisconsin, and Minnesota. Over 22 rivers empty into Lake Superior. It is very deep, often quite close to shore. Lake Superior offers excellent fishing for salmon. King, Coho, and Atlantic salmon were stocked in Lake Superior over the last few decades.

Salmon fishing is good in May through mid June. At that point, the water warms up and salmon and other species scatter out. They will relate to the forage, especially herring. Fish may move closer to shore late in summer if the bait fish migrate there. In fall, salmon will gang up at the mouths of feeder streams and rivers.

Sault Ste. Marie

Sault Ste. Marie is a port town is on the northeastern end of Michigan’s upper peninsula. It is right along the border of the United states and Canada. It is the second most populous city on the upper peninsula.

Lake Ontario salmon fishing

As with the other Great Lakes, salmon fishing in Lake Ontario really gets going mod summer. As fall approaches, the fish migrate towards the streams and rivers to spawn.

Lake Huron salmon fishing

Lake Huron has seen a decline in salmon fishing of late, mostly due to the invasive zebra mussels. Still, recovers efforts are underway with stocking and other strategies.

Lake Erie salmon fishing

Lake Erie is not noted as a great salmon fishery, walleye are the primary target of anglers. Most of the salmon caught in Lake Erie are done so in the Eastern Basin area as the fish stage before moving into the rivers. Chinook, Coho, and pink salmon are available, though they are not prolific and can be challenging. Pink salmon can be fairly numerous in the tributaries. The Mountain is the top spot in late summer before the fish move up to the rivers.

In conclusion, this article on Great Lakes salmon fishing will help anglers catch more of these terrific game fish!

Streamer Fishing for Trout – Pro tips!

Streamer Fishing for Trout – Pro Tips from a Professional Guide!

The topic of this article is streamer fishing for trout. Streamers are very versatile flies. They can represent insects, larvae, minnows, and crustaceans. These are all prime forage for all species of trout in both streams and lakes.

A streamer is a fishing fly that works below the surface of the water. Depending on the streamer selected and the manner in which it is retrieved, streamers can mimic a wide variety of trout forage. While current is a factor in moving water, the angler does need to impart action to the fly in most cases to elicit a strike. Streamers can be used to work the entire water column.

While many anglers fly fishing for trout prefer to catch them on dry flies, the reality is that sub-surface flies will catch more fish day in and day out. Streamers will also produce larger fish with regularity. As tall trout species grow and mature, they focus more on larger prey such as minnows as opposed to insects. Larger meals simply offer more nutrition.

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Kara is a trout fishing expert who lives in Dillon, Montana. She guides for trout in her local waters. She loves to fly fish for trout with streamers! Kara Jean has her own apparel line, Yellow Sally Fishing that caters to female anglers.

streamer fishing

To book a trout fishing trip in southwest Montana with Kara call Greater Yellowstone Outfitters (816) 591-3535.
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Top trout fishing streamers

As mentioned earlier, streamers are very versatile trout fishing flies that can be used to imitate the things that trout feed on. Some really look like nothing that exists in the water, yet trout will still take them when presented properly. Most are weighted.

Here is Kara’s list of the top trout fishing streamers

  • Muddler Minnow
  • Wooly Bugger
  • Micky Finn
  • Clouser Minnow
  • Sparkle Minnow
  • Yellow Yummy
  • Zonker
  • Leech fly

Muddler Minnow

muddler minnow

The Muddler Minnow is a classic streamer fly that has been around a long time. It is tied in natural brown colors and mimics sculpins and other aquatic prey. It it generally worked slowly near the bottom.

Wooly Bugger

Wooly bugger

The Wooly Bugger is perhaps the most popular streamer in freshwater. It is a weighted variation of a Wooly worm. It is a ‘buggy” looking fly that can be tied to imitate a variety of trout forage.

Micky Finn

The Micky Finn is an unweighted streamer fly that is a bait fish pattern. It is unweighted and usually tied using fairly bright colors. Micky Finn streamers are worked faster and closer to the surface.

Clouser MInnow

Clouser

The Clouser Minnow is considered a smallmouth bass fly (it was invented by Bob Clouser for smallmouth on the Susquehanna) and is often ignored by trout anglers. This is a mistake! Clousers are arguable the most popular saltwater fly. They can be tied using different hook sizes, weighted eyes, and material to imitate anything a trout eats. It also rides with the hook up, resulting in less snags.

Sparkle Minnow

The Sparkle Minnow is one of the most productive little streamers in the West. The body is made out of Wing-n-Flash, and features a tri-colored marabou tail. The sparkle minnow is a staple streamer pattern for just about any body of water in the country, particularly out West.

Yellow Yummy

Yellow Yummy flies are a good choice in spring when the waters are high and off-color. It is a bright fly that displaces a lot of water and makes a large splash on entry.

Zonker

 

Zonkers are very effective and versatile trout fishing streamers. They can be tied in a variety of materials and colors to imitate every type of trout forage that lives beneath the surface.

Leech fly

A Leech fly mimics a leech, which trout feed on. They are mostly fished slowly and close to the bottom. Leech flies are excellent search baits used to cover water when fish are near the bottom.

Tackle requirements when streamer fishing for trout

Tackle requirements for streamer fishing for trout are similar to other forms of fly fishing. One difference is that the line should sink down into the water as opposed to floating when dry fly fishing. Kara prefers a 6 wt outfit for most of her streamer fishing for trout.

Anglers can use a floating line for streamer fishing. Most streamers are weighted and a split shot or two can be added to get the streamer down deeper in the water column if needed. The floating line adds versatility; anglers can easily switch back and forth from streamers to other flies.

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Read more about trout fishing equipment in this article

There are conditions where a sink tip line does work best. Primarily, this would be when fishing high, fast water. The sink tip line will better facilitate getting the fly down without adding too much extra weight. Another situation is in summer when warmer water pushed the trout deeper into pools and holes.

Leader options when fishing streamers

Water color and fish species and size will dictate the leader size and to some degree, length. When the water is dirty or heavily stained, a 0X flourocarbon leader and tippet is a good choice. Streamers do get hung up. Having a stronger leader will save anglers from losing flies to the snags.

When the water is clear, 2X or 3X leaders are a better choice. However, anglers do need to be prepared to lose a few streamers. Leader length is a bit of a personal choice, but Kara prefers shorter leaders, between 5 and 7 feet long. She believes it results in the streamer having better action in the water.

Trout fishing with streamers in rivers

Streamer fishing techniques vary in a couple of different ways from dry fly fishing. Streamers are usually fished across the current and down stream. Also, streamers obviously work below the surface of the water. They are manipulated by the stripping hand of the angler.

Fly fishing with streamers from a boat

The best technique when fishing streamers, particularly from a boat or raft, is to work tight to the bank with casts. It is important to make a splash with the fly when it lands, no delicate presentations here! This will get the attention of a trout. After it lands, the fly is stripped a few times before casting again.

This technique requires constant casting. It is crucial to cover as much water as possible. Brown trout in particular are partial to undercut banks. A noisy, fast moving streamer will appeal to their predatory nature and elicit a strike. This is very exciting as the takes are visible. The fish will often “bump” the fly or miss it entirely. This only adds to the excitement! A pair of experienced anglers can cover virtually the entire banks of a river.

Wading techniques

Streamers are usually cast out across the stream or river. As the current grabs the line, the streamer fly swings with it. The angler keeps the rod tip low, near the water. Using his or her stripping hand, the fly is manipulated using short strips. As in all fishing, the retrieve should be varied until a productive pattern emerges. When a fish takes, set the hook and get the rod tip high.

Trout fishing with streamers in lakes and ponds

Streamers can certainly be used effectively for trout and other species in still waters such as lakes and ponds. This can be done from both the shoreline and from a boat. There are a couple of differences when fishing lakes as opposed to streams. Obviously, the main factor is the lack of current in lakes. Also, anglers fishing streamers in lakes will usually do best going to a full sinking line.

Kara fishes streamers extensively in still waters when both guiding and fishing on her own. The primary challenge is determining the depth that the trout are feeding at. It does require patience! She starts closer to the surface them works deeper, using the countdown method on a sink tip line or sinking leader. Anglers simply cast out and allow the line to sink for 5 seconds before beginning the retrieve. If no take occurs, cast again and count to 10 before retrieving the fly.

Leech flies are also effective when fly fishing for trout in lakes and ponds. They are cast out and allowed to sink close to the bottom. Retrieve it back in with long, slow strips. The takes are quite aggressive when employing this technique.

Kara highly recommends that anglers who enjoy stillwater fishing give Pyramid Lake on the Paiute Indian Reservation a try. It has a good population of Lohanton Cutthroat trout which are both large and gorgeous!

In conclusion, this article on streamer fishing for trout will help anglers experience more success using this technique!