It may destroy my reputation, but I will admit to you that I have not been on the water a lot in recent weeks. Yes, it has been the “summer doldrums” and frankly, there have been some other issues in life that have taken priority. But, I have been able to spend a couple evenings on an interstate lake lately and I want to give you a quick report.
I have mentioned this a couple of times this summer, but let me start by again saying that yes, it is tougher to catch fish during the summer. That is NOT because the fish are uncomfortable in the sun or warmer water. As a matter of fact, since fish are the same temperature as their environment (I would say they are “cold-blooded” but at the end of August they ain’t very cold), their metabolism is “cooking” right along in the heat of the summer. Fish feed more during the summer than they do when the water is colder. Fishing gets tough during the summer because the abundance of natural prey is at its peak. When prey is abundant, fish do not have to spend long feeding nor do they have to search hard to find prey. Well-fed fish are always harder to catch. However, there are some strategies that can still produce fish during the heat of the summer and those are some of the things I employed on the water in recent weeks.
With the abundance of prey, feeding periods may be intense, but they often do not last very long. An angler needs to identify the spots most likely to attract actively feeding fish and then be sure to be there at times when the fish are most likely to be feeding. Early and late in the day and perhaps after dark or just before a summer storm rolls through are often prime times for hot bites. I picked an interstate lake that had some good fish, and made it a point to be there late in the evening (after you look at my pictures, look here if you still need some hints as to where I was fishing, 2014 Fishing Forecast ).
I often try to cover water at least until I have identified some specific spots that are likely to hold fish. I did that and made special note of areas which held the greatest numbers of tasty prey items. I then slipped back to those areas as the sun set and managed to dry some off. Here is what I caught:
Yep, those are smallmouth bass. Yep, from Nebraska waters; fish just a freckle too small to qualify for catch & release Master Angler awards.
For those of you looking really hard, if you have not figured out what I caught them on, here are some more hints: Miss Piggy loves Kermit .
Now, I have to tell a quick story. One evening I did really well at hooking fish, but not so well at landing them. One reason I love to catch smallmouth bass is their fight after they are hooked. Smallies often will rocket out of the water like an ICBM after they are hooked; on one trip I had 3 fish hooked and proceeded to lose them on their first big jump. One of the biggest blasted out of the water right beside me when the hook came loose. The image of that fish hanging in mid-air above the reflection of the sunset on the water’s surface is etched in my mind. Aaarrrrggggghhhhhhhh!!!!!!!!
Now, if I lose a fish, it ain’t no big deal, it happens, but when I lose another one I am looking for something that is wrong or mistakes that I am making. I had good hook sets and my hooks were razor sharp, I checked them a dozen times, but for some reason I was not keeping those fish hooked. I am thinking that maybe I had too much slack in the line on those jumps.
I will also tell you that when I lose a fish, even a big fish, I try to shrug it off and just get back to fishing. If there was one that would bite, there is another and the next one might be even bigger! “Keep pitching it out and reeling it in!” So, on that evening the more fish that threw the hook, the harder I fished. Finally, I was able to put a fish in my rubber mesh landing net, and then I put the fish in the net, on the shore, and turned to get my flashlight. By the time I got back, the fish was gone. Even though I never removed the hook, it somehow got unhooked and flipped back into the water. I guess it was just one of those nights.
Those bass, even the ones I landed, are back in the water. I will be back to catch them again!
Fall certainly is in the air right now–my favorite open-water fishing of the year! I am going to be able to be on the water more in the coming weeks and the bite will be picking up! I cannot wait!
Leave ’em with a sunset photo. . . .