The last column discussed top water baits and how to fish them effectively with the high water in area lakes. Top water baits are part of a larger group of baits called search baits. In summer when the water warms into the 70s, weeds begin to fill in the shallow water down to 10-12 feet, and fish metabolism kicks up a notch. That means fish are very active but extremely scattered in the underwater environment where search baits are the most effective.

Search baits are useful for locating pockets of fish this time of year. All of them – top water baits, inline spinnerbaits, stick baits and a personal favorite, the lipless crankbait – are useful for casting around an area to see if any fish are active and feeding. With search baits a fisherman can cover large areas of water to locate active fish. They will work on most game fish (bass, walleye, and northern pike). It is a good idea to begin by working an area like a weed edge that seems likely to be holding fish. If the fish do not hit on the first bait, it is worth trying one of the others before moving to another spot. One good “go to” bait for this process is a lipless crankbait, like a 3/8-oz. Rattle Trap in Fire Tiger pattern. It can be used along the top of the weed line or cranked down along the bottom of the weed edge. With very muddy conditions and poor visibility on the rivers right now, it is advisable to change the color of the bait to a red and white or orange and white pattern to help fish locate the bait. After locating the fish that are biting, the fisherman can change the approach, slow down and start working the area with more refined baits like wacky worms, drop shot rigs or jig/twister tail combos.

Most area lakes are pretty active. Busse Lake is really producing some nice catches of largemouth bass in the main pool, and the Fox Chain has seen good walleye action on Lake Marie with dead-sticking or slow-trolling minnow rigs in 5 to 7 feet of water. The fishing is really good right now, so those who get out there are having some fun.

Until next time…keep a tight line.

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