Once June rolls around, most anglers move to shallow water cover, hoping to find a few postspawn females. Not me. I am headed to the open water in search of schooling females with huge appetites and big bellies.
Open water offers a great getaway for large groups of postspawn females to feed on baitfish that have finished up their own spawn. Plus, opportunistic anglers have pounded the banks in May, leaving these females wanting some much needed rest.
The areas I target first are ledges that lie in the 10-15 foot range. Finding these areas won't be difficult. All it will take is some electronics and time on the water. My favorite way to fish these ledges is with a Texas-rigged Berkley ® PowerBait ® 10-inch Power ® Worm. The 10-inch Power Worm is great for fishing far from open-water ledges. These baits are heavy enough that you can really get some distance on the cast. Plus, they are laced with PowerBait scent, which fish bite and won't let go.
Putting distance in between you and the ledge is important because you want to work as much of the area as possible. When you are setting up to work the edge of this ledge, do so by positioning your
boat where you can work the entire length of the ledge. Casting the length of the ledge, rather than a section of ledge, will keep your bait in the strike zone longer, which will increase your hook-up rate.
The equipment I use is standard issue for this technique. I use a 7-foot medium-heavy rod and an Abu Garcia ® REVO ® STX reel. This reel has a 7.1:1 retrieve ratio, which is excellent for handling the 17-pound Trilene ® 100% Fluorocarbon line. Many anglers automatically reach for a lower-ratio reel, but I've found that a high-speed reel lands more fish. When I make longer casts and set the hook on a fish farther out, I want to be in constant contact with that fish. A high-speed reel is the perfect solution. I can retrieve the fish at the same speed but take in more line than I would with a lower-speed reel.
The line is key in this type of presentation. Many anglers opt for a heavy braid with a fluorocarbon leader, but I like to keep my reel totally spooled with Trilene 100% Fluorocarbon. The use of a reel spooled entirely with fluorocarbon eliminates the need to add length to a leader.
I also tie all my worm rigs, when using 100% Fluorocarbon, with a basic Trilene knot. Again, every angler is different, some opting for the popular Palomar knot. But a Palomar has a strong tendency to dig into itself, which eventually cuts the line. A well-fashioned Trilene knot holds strong during hard hooksets and won't cut through the sensitive fluorocarbon.
I fish the 10-inch Power Worm like I do any other Texas rigged soft plastic: cast it past the desired target and let it fall to the bottom. If nothing gets it on the way down, I will pick it up and shake it a little and let it freefall back to the bottom; pick it up and move it a little and repeat the process. By this time I've covered the entire ledge and I am ready to move to the next target. The great thing about throwing this rig is the versatility of the bait. You can throw it anywhere.
Targeting June schoolers is a great way to fill a weekend or?if your job permits?weekday. You can take the guesswork out of the equation by throwing the 10-inch worm to capitalize on bites leading down a ledge. Pairing these two key elements will ensure that you don't leave the lake disappointed.