Bob Jensen column: Hot fishing tips as temperatures warm

Bob Jensen, Fishing the Midwest
Special to the Ames Tribune

Warmer weather is here. It took a while this year, but as it always does, or at least always has done so far, the inconsistent weather of spring has been or will soon be replaced by the warmer weather of early and mid-summer.

It’s going to be warm and even hot in the following weeks and months. When we go fishing, if we want to catch some fish, we need to fish in a way that appeals to fish when the weather is warm. Following are some of the things that we can do to catch fish all through the summer.

The most basic concept of fishing knows no season. Regardless of when you’re fishing, you’ve got to find the fish. The challenge is this: in the spring, most freshwater fish will be in the shallows where they spawn. Now that the spawn has been completed, they will be where the food is. That could be pretty much anywhere in the water system you’re fishing.

Weedlines are often a good starting point. Several species of fish will hang out along the weedline. You’ll find largemouth bass, walleyes, panfish and northern pike on the weedline. If two anglers are fishing, it works well to have one angler throw a crankbait and the other a jigworm. This way you’re showing the fish two different presentations. If the fish are hitting one bait better than the other, both anglers should throw that style of bait.

If you employ this technique, the crankbait angler should try a No. 3XD or No. 5XD Pro Model crankbait if largemouth are the target or a Lucky Shad if you’re after walleyes. Northern pike will eagerly eat either of these. Also, largemouth will certainly take the Lucky Shad and walleyes will take the XDs.

The jigworm angler would do well to use an eighth-ounce jighead tipped with a 5- or 6-inch Ocho worm. Use the largest worm they’ll take. This is mostly a largemouth presentation, but a walleye will also readily take this set-up. Go to bigger, bulkier plastics if the fish are hitting good, and go to something smaller like a Ned plastic if the fish are being finicky. If they’re finicky, try live bait. Usually, they’re not that stubborn. If they’re really shut off, try a lighter jighead, a 1/16th-ouncer.

In the summer, along the weedline or on deeper structures, sometimes the fish will be scattered; at others, they’ll be tightly schooled. You might catch one here and one there, or you might discover that you have to be very precise as to where you put your bait. On the weedline, look for points or pockets in the weeds to hold concentrations of fish. On deeper structures, maybe a rockpile or a corner on a large flat will hold schools of walleyes, bass or crappies.

When you’re fishing deeper structure, it pays big dividends to cruise over the structure with a close eye on your sonar. With the sophistication of today’s sonar, you can determine where the fish are before you drop a line. Generally, if you don’t see something that looks like predator fish or baitfish on the sonar, don’t bother fishing the area. Keep looking for an area that has life.

Some anglers feel that spring and fall fishing can be more productive, but summer fish are eating machines. Put the right bait in the right place and you’re probably going to get bit. And for most of us, getting bit is why we go fishing. In the summer, you can get bit a lot.