Barbs and Backlashes

Where I have been, again. by Nebraska Game and Parks Commission
July 9, 2009, 11:11 am
Filed under: Fishing | Tags:

I have been out of the office for nearly a week.  Now I am trying to get caught up, again.  My family and I spent the 4th of July holiday in Valentine.  “The 4th” has always been one of my favorite holidays.  We shoot fireworks and have a lot of fun.  One of my cousins has a son who is a Marine.  He has been on more than one tour overseas, but was back home for the 4th this year.  Over the years we have shared some time on the water and on the ice together and it is always a very special 4th when he is home!

Would you believe I did not do any fishing over the 4th?  We were busy with family activities and baseball games, etc.  But I was back out to Valentine for some meetings this week and was able to spend some time on the water in the evenings.  Many Nebraska anglers know that the fishing at Merritt this year has been phenomenal!  It is still good, but we are slipping into the heat of the summer and fishing always gets a little tougher then (I will talk more about that in a future blog entry, stay tuned!).  After our meetings there were several of us fishing in a number of different boats.  Almost everybody caught at least some walleyes with fish being caught near the weedbeds on leeches and crawlers, others were caught on drop-offs and humps on the same live baits and some fish were taken while trolling crankbaits.  The fish caught just outside the weedbeds were taken in 6-9 feet of water while livebait rigs drifted or slow-trolled as deep as 15-20 feet also took fish.  Most of the walleyes were 15-18 inches with a few larger fish.

Water levels on Merritt and other irrigation reservoirs will begin to drop now as water is released.  As water levels decline, the trolling bite usually gets better because fish will tend to move off-shore and towards deeper water.  There are a couple of important things to keep in mind for catching fish while trolling:  probably the most important thing is using baits that run at the right depth.  We caught fish the past few days while trolling in 6-8 feet of water to as deep as 12-15 feet.  What is the right depth?  Well, you will have to let the fish tell you that.  At times you will be able to use your depth-finder to find the depth of the baitfish and walleyes and other predator fish.  At other times you will have to fish at different depths until you catch fish and can zero-in on the productive depth.

You will need to select baits, usually some crankbait or artificial that will run at the target depth or just above the depth of the fish.  Generally the bigger the bill on a crankbait the deeper it will run.  If you do not have an idea of how deep various baits run, there are books and charts available.  Precision Trolling is the name of one very useful book that shows how deep various baits dive.  Using modern “super-lines” like SpiderWire or FireLine is is possible to get some crankbaits down to 20+ feet.  If the fish are even deeper than that, then clip-on weights, lead-core line or even wire line are techniques that can be used to troll crankbaits even deeper.

Once you get the right depth and the right crankbait for that depth figured out, then you can experiment with other variables.  But, I do not care what magic lure you use or what magic color you use, it ain’t gonna catch fish if you are trolling it 5 feet deep when the fish are holding at 20 feet!  Getting a lure that runs at the rigth depth is WAY MORE IMPORTANT than having the right color or any other variable.  Once you get the depth right, then you can experiment with different speeds, different actions, different colors, etc.  Generally I will try to match the size, shape and overall color of the crankbait I am using to the most abundant baitfish.  During the summer in most Nebraska reservoirs the most abundant baitfish will be young-of-the-year (YOY) gizzard shad or in a few reservoirs like Merritt, that will be alewives.  Shad and alewives are both silverly-colored baitfish.  Colors that imitate those baitfish are usually good ones to start with and then experiment from there to see if other colors are more productive.  But worry about putting lures at the right depth first!



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Your are right on about depth and color.
Last night we were fishing Elwood.
Tried 4 spots for Walleye on the bottom with crawlers and slip bobbers.
No wind…and a very tough bite.
4 hits and no hook-ups.
At 9:30 P.M. we headed for the ramp trolling Storm Husky Cranks, about #5s in “show perch” and “pearl”.
They were on sale at Cabelas last month for 99 cents each. I really stocked up.
We hit a keeper Walleye right off the bat in ll feet of water.
Made another pass and caught a Wiper.
Finished out the troll and found a pod of Wipers in 15-17 foot of water.
Our lures had been hitting bottom at 15 feet with 180 feet of line out, so we were in the zone.
We couldn’t get through the pod without a strike.
The fish hit both luire colors with abandon were running 20-23 inches.
What a great way to finish out a few hours of fishing after work.
Wish you could have been there!!!!
Those fish sre still there but 6 of them are wiser now to Storm Husky Cranks.!!

Comment by Steve Trybus

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