WALKING THE BANKS
Just because you don't have a boat, doesn't mean you can't enjoy fishing, we tend to forget about this simple and fun way to catch fish. We learned to fish from the shore as youngsters and caught plenty of fish along with having a great day. In fact, during the first couple weeks of April we received photos of several Big fish from happy shore anglers.
Well, today we rarely fish without our boat except for this spring which helped us remember a boat is not needed to really enjoy fishing. Actually spring fishing is best at or near the shore and with a little effort while being versatile, shore anglers may have better odds of catching more fish. In fact, last month’s article we talked about how wind can help stir up food and baitfish moving them into shoreline areas.
An atlas, gazetteer or detailed topo maps can show you where ponds are in your area. Once located, a walk up to a farm house to ask permission may be all it takes to get access to some good shore fishing. Lake maps for larger lakes can still be helpful to the shore angler for picking out hot spots. Remember, a high traffic area may be a good spot but is not the only place to catch fish, so be mobile to increase your odds while getting away from the crowds.
Since the entire sunfish family are schoolers, you can fish for them in or around shore cover such as brush, lily pads and weeds. Fish in small ponds are more aware of their aquatic environment and prefer smaller baits with a subtle presentation. Keep in mind fish are extremely sensitive to vibrations so walk softly as you approach the area you will cast from moving quietly along the bank not to send vibrations into the water which is worst on spongy or soft ground. Also, try not to cast a shadow onto the water which sends a danger signal to fish and even if you do not completely spook the fish, you put them on guard or cause them to lose interest in feeding.
The key is to minimize your gear so you stay mobile but still be versatile and have a fair variety of baits or lures, so you can change colors or baits till you find what works. Use a small slip bobber just big enough to float your bait so you can adjust to get near the bottom or change depths till you connect with fish. Vertically dunk a small hook baited with a wax worm, cricket or redworm just off the bottom. If fish do not want your live baits, try small spinners or our favorite a 1/16-ounce tear drop jig tipped with a tiny curlytail power grub with light-wire hooks which can be straightened by pulling when you hang up on brush. Your equipment can be a 5'6" medium-light action rod with a spinning or spincast reel spooled with 6 pound line to handle the small baits. Basically standard fishing fundamentals still apply when walking the bank.
Another approach is wading to get to those usually unreachable spots from the shore along with being quite a thrill. As members of the Illinois Smallmouth Alliance, we are given the opportunity for monthly wade trips in the area. For questions, contact us or visit www.illinoissmallmouthalliance.com Explore fly fishing as another way to enjoy fishing without a boat and let's not forget catfishing which also will be roaming shorelines early and late in the day, although catfishing may require heavier equipment.
Each year shore anglers catch some of the biggest fish from ponds and small lakes which proves being stranded on shore does not have to be an unpleasant experience. Just be versatile, go afoot to escape the hurry up crowded waters, kick back, have fun and introduce a youngster to the thrill of fishing and you may be surprised at the fish you can catch from the shore.
Just a Thought: We need to support our local family run Bait & Tackle Shops to assure them being there when we need them for fresh, lively baits and current fishing info as well as the latest tackle - Just a Thought..
Visit us at www.larrysfishinghole.com for more fishing info, current fishing reports, and read our Product reviews as we have several New Lures or Hand Poured Bait to be testing soon. We wish to say THANKS to all who have shared their fishing reports and photos.
Till Next Time, GOD BLESS & GOOD FISHING !