In some areas of the Midwest, open water fishing is still several weeks away. In other areas of the Midwest, anglers are on the water chasing walleyes, sauger, panfish, and whatever else. Regardless of where you live, now is a good time to consider the following ideas as to how you can be more productive on the water during the upcoming open water fishing season.
The Number One way to insure more fishing success is to go fishing more often. The more you go fishing, the more you’ll learn about fish and their habits, and that will make you a better angler.
If you’re a walleye angler, consider using planer boards more. Boards are often thought of as being an asset in states that allow multiple lines, but they are also helpful in states that allow just one line per angler. On Lake Mille Lacs in Minnesota where only one line is permitted, we used planer boards last year with great success. The walleyes were about fifteen feet down, but the water was very clear. By using boards to get our baits away from the boat and prevent spooking, we upped our walleye catch dramatically. In fact, we caught five walleyes on the boards for every one caught without the board. That’s too much of an advantage to ignore. Off Shore in-line planer boards are the best ones out there.
Be sure to experiment more this year. The best time to experiment is when what you’re using isn’t working. If something isn’t working, why stick with it? Try a different color, size, speed, or technique until you discover what the fish want.
The other time to experiment is when the fish are really going. Try a different color, size, speed, or technique to see if you can find something that appeals to even more fish or bigger fish.
A jig tipped with a minnow is a great bait much of the time, but this year try replacing that minnow with soft plastic like Berkley® Gulp! or Berkley PowerBait. More and more we’re finding that these soft baits have a lot of applications for all types of Midwest fish. The advantage of soft baits is that they come in a wide variety of sizes, colors, and shapes, and that gives us a lot of options when it comes to giving fish what they want.
Pay more attention to your sonar. As sonar advances continue, it becomes easier to keep your bait in productive water. It is easier to identify fish with modern sonar, so we can determine which areas are holding fish, and those areas are where we should concentrate our efforts. The color units that Humminbird is producing enable an angler to identify fish that are hugging the bottom, and that ability will put fish in the boat.
When fishing season arrives, if you’ll keep these ideas in mind, you’ll catch more fish and enjoy your time on the water even more, and that’s why we go fishing.