After spending the last number of days on the water and now land-locked if only for
the next day I decided to give some thought to a daily approach that seems to
be very normal in my world or at least in my boat. It really began last Saturday afternoon when arriving at a small lake with a friend. I’ve fished the lake before but this was the first time this year. It’s really quite small, surrounded by trees with a few cabins and crystal clear water. As we drifted away from the launch the rods started coming out of the locker. Each had a different offering for the fish in the attempt to put together the daily puzzle of what will work on this day. One had a Sumpn Sumpn swim jig, another a mushroom jig with 4” worm, another a small Texas rig, a tube bait, a small crank bait, a small round-headed Sumpn Sumpn skirted jig with a Zoom craw as a trailer and a topwater frog on braided line with heavy action rod. Basically a pile of rods to choose from. MinnKota down and our search
began. Zig sagging from shallow to deep we began poking into the cabbage weed, under the trees, to the deep weed edge and beyond. About 30 minutes later we came to an underwater point clearly marked on the Humminbird Lakemaster chip. Wayne was the first to announce
“Here’s one!” After a considerable struggle with 6 lb P-Line on spinning tackle the fish came into the boat. A nice one too about 3 pounds. When releasing it he looked at me and said
“the worm was just sitting on the bottom when he picked it up!” “Well try it again” I said. My favorite tube bait wasn’t doing much except for a couple pecks as he leaned back on the rod again eventually landing another nice fish. Switching rods we continued around the deep edge of that point. I tried various baits with little success but the worm kept workin’. We also noticed the north side of the point had more activity. So the plan was made. I switched to a pumpkin 4” Berkley worm on a 1/8th oz mushroom jig too not leaving that point. About 3 hours later we had boated about 15 really nice fish from these light-biting fish while mostly
dead-sticking on the deep edge of that one point.
Day 2 brought morning rain with a misty cloudy afternoon. Another lake, larger than the first with lots of structure. The DNR’s Lake Finder web program indicated a healthy population of smallies so with the rain coming down we fired up the Contour Elite program on the computer still waiting in the cabin. When plugging in the smallmouth species, summer, clouds in the late morning/afternoon times red highlighted areas on the lakemap suggested areas to begin the next puzzle assembly. With the software generated GPS coordinates loaded into the 998 we pulled on rain gear and launched into the lake. Earlier this year I had looked for the ccess two different times unable to find it but persistence does pay off and it was indeed there. Again a new lake. Rods again stacked on the deck but gone was the frog and added was a shallow running crank bait and a perch-colored Zara Spook. The clouds, rain and calm winds
prompted the choices. The first spot was the tip of a point with steep drop into 35 feet of water. Picking up the little crankbait my first cast yielded about a 2 lb smallie. Hmmm! A couple casts later parallel to the drop over about 25 feet of water the small bait produced again on the retrieve pause. This time a dandy! As it jumped, dove and thrashed around we
laughed, ooed and ohhhd! It was really fun! Before releasing it we checked –21” of gorgeous fish. Wayne picked the spook and we talked about how to walk it. A few minutes later he connected- another smallie! So up one side and down the other we worked
that point. Mist turned to real rain but the bite was on so no complaints. Largemouth deeper in the weeds, smallies over deep water and closer to the edge provided almost constant action. No plastics or jigs today!
Day 3 found us back on the same lake but under sunny skies. The topwater worked again early as we positioned ourselves off tips of points. The same was true for the little crankbait but as the sun heated up so did the swim jig. It was chartreuse tipped with a similar colored Zoom Fat Albert trailer. The key to fishing the swim jig is letting the fish eat the bait then a sweeping hook set. By mid-afternoon we guessed the number of boated fish was around 30 so again a good day but each was a puzzle a bit different than the one before.
On day 4 I set out alone as Wayne had to head home. Planning to go to a totally new lake again I spent some time on Contour Elite the night before getting some idea of a beginning spot. Idling over areas with Side Imaging I picked some areas. Under sunny skies with a SW
wind I looked both shallow and deep. From the pile of rods I tied on both shallow and deep cranks, Texas-rigged craws, tubes and topwater. Nothing! Next an underwater point
that looked to have an inside turn with steep drop into 30+ feet of water. Picking up the small rubber skirted jig tipped with a Zoom Speed Craw a cast to shallower water then dragging it down the edge produced. A hookset with braided line and stiff rod worked but not the species I thought. This was a northern in the 5-7 lb class. After 5 more along that deep 30’ edge I decided it was time to go back and take the dogs swimming.
So with the pile of rods back in the locker the day ended but a great few days on the water. One of the pike came back with me too. With the Y bones removed it proved to be a tasty supper with enough for the neighbors across the road too. I’ll be back on the same lake tomorrow too trying to figure it out a bit better.
Next time you head to the lake make use of your own “pile of rods” to begin putting
together the daily puzzle of where, what and how! It’s really why I love to fish! Sometimes though that puzzle is just too tough but then there will be tomorrow and a new one to work on!