The Versatile Angler: Catch What’s Biting


Make this fishing season the one you become a more versatile angler.

Versatile fishermen generally catch more fish, are more willing to try new techniques and chase different species of fish. They just want to get bit. We might really want to catch walleyes, but in reality, in some bodies of water, the largemouths might be biting a lot better than the ‘eyes. It’s a good idea to keep your options open when you go fishing so you can catch more.

When you start out your day, it’s important to have a game plan in place. If, for instance, walleyes are the quarry you should have a rod rigged with a live-bait rig. Live bait is almost always a good summertime bet for walleyes. Check out some deeper water structure, and keep a close eye on your sonar for activity. When you find some walleyes, work your rig through them. Maybe you’ll get bit, maybe not.

If you work your bait through several schools of fish with no action, try something else. Maybe a spinner behind a bottom-bouncer pulled quickly through the fish will trigger them into eating; maybe a crankbait worked through them will do the trick.

If you’re dead-set on catching walleyes, you can also keep trying other techniques. But if you want to get a bite right away, now would be a good time to switch species. Many of the best walleye lakes are also good for bass, bluegills or pike.

Go to a different area of the lake and tie different bait on your line. A weedline would be a good place to start. These areas are home to all species of fish, and often fish on the weedline will be aggressive biters. For us, most of the time we will get bit along the weedline. You can tie on a 1/8-ounce Slurp jig and add a 4-inch Impulse Ringworm. Anything that swims along a weedline will eat this combo, including panfish, bass, pike, and even those walleyes we were looking for earlier in the deeper water.

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If the bite is good, go to bait with a larger profile, maybe an Impulse Dipstick. You probably won’t get as many panfish pecks with the larger bait, but you may catch bigger fish. Then, you should also go to the larger-sized jig.

If you like to jig for walleyes, this is a good way to practice. Watch your line carefully as the jig falls along the weedline. Much of the time you’ll just see your line “jump” a little. Reel down and set the hook. Any “jump” you may notice could be a fish eating your jig-worm.

Eight- or 10-pound-test is about the right size of line with the jig-worm. Sunline’s Assassin is outstanding when you want a line that’s almost invisible underwater and easy to manage.

And don’t forget that weedline. You never know what might bite your bait here. It just might be a few of those walleyes you couldn’t get to bite in the deeper water.

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