Barbs and Backlashes

Reports and observations, May 25, 2010 by whitetips
May 25, 2010, 10:29 am
Filed under: Fishing | Tags: , , ,

I am back in the office today after spending the weekend at Ponca State Park, .  I helped with our Becoming an Outdoors-Woman workshop, .  Of course I did the fishing sessions and I believe every lady in one of my sessions except for a couple caught at least one fish!  Someone should slap me because I forgot to take any pictures this weekend!  I love teaching classes and helping out with our BO-W events.  I will tell you this much, if the ladies have half as much fun as I do, they had a great weekend and hopefully they learn something in the process.  If any of you have not taken advantage of our BO-W events, I would highly recommend them!

Anywho, the weather was cool on Friday night and Saturday morning, jackets or sweatshirts felt good, but by Saturday afternoon the wind was blowing out of the south at 101 knots and it was HOT!  In fact it was so hot that I came home yesterday and shaved my beard!  Yep, time for the summer pelage!

Last winter I mentioned that the pond at Ponca State Park, it is just west of the visitor’s center, now has water in it.  Well, it not only has water in it, it also has fish!  There are largemouth bass, bluegill and some 10-inch rainbow trout and the ladies caught all of them.  None of the bass and bluegill are very large yet; I saw some bluegills up to maybe 7 inches and one of my gals caught a bass that would have been 13 or 14 inches, but there certainly were fish to be caught and there were a lot of folks with lots of kids taking advantage even on Saturday in the 101-knot winds.

Let me offer some observations from the fishing.


I know everyone thinks of bobbers and worms when taking beginners or kids fishing for the first time.  Catching fish certainly is not the only reason to go fishing, but you have to admit it does make it more fun and you can get those beginners “hooked” if they have some success.  In my opinion the biggest mistake folks make is using bobbers that are too stinkin’ big!  Yes, I know they want the weight so a beginner can cast and they want to be able to see the bobber, but you have to use a bobber that is small enough to detect bites.  My philosophy with bobbers is always to use the smallest bobber possible; I want a bobber or float that is just barely big enough to float my bait.  The right size bobber will still be heavy enough to cast and if you pay attention it will be plenty easy to see too.

Many times bluegills are the target for beginning anglers.  You know I am a fisheries biologist and my pursuit of any species of fish starts with an understanding of the anatomy and biology of the target species.  Bluegills, even big bruiser bluegills have relatively small mouths.  Their mouths are made for sipping aquatic insects, terrestrial insects and other relatively small food items; they are sippers, almost “kissers” when they feed (and sometimes when they are sipping insects off of the surface they will make a “smooching” sound).  So you have to use hooks and baits that are small enough for bluegills to eat.  If you gob a whole nightcrawler onto a #4 hook, all the bluegills are going to to is nibble at the ends of the ‘crawler and they will rarely, if ever, get hooked.  That is frustrating for any angler and especially frustrating for beginners.  I never use hooks larger than #8 for bluegills and sometimes I go smaller than that.  And if I am using ‘crawlers I will pinch only an inch or two from the whole ‘crawler and use that for bait.

Now pull up a chair, ole Daryl is about to spill his guts on one of his best presentations for panfish and a variety of other fish.  The pieces of ‘crawlers and small hooks and floats will catch a darned lot of bluegills, but I have a technique that is even better. . . .

Wax worms catch fish all year long, not just during the winter!!!!  If you want to be a bluegill-catching machine, if you want to take the kids out and practically guarantee them some fish, get yourself some wax worms, some 1/32, 1/64 or even 1/100 ounce jig heads and some small bobbers.  Hook a wax worm on the jig head, suspend it a couple of feet below the small bobber, cast it out there and get ready to catch some fish.  Forget about pinching pieces off crawlers, and forget about nibbles that the kids can never hook.  I cannot tell you how many hundreds, maybe thousands of fish my partners and myself have caught fishing wax worms year-round, and not just panfish, but plenty of other species too.  I get my wax worms here, .

You will find that another advantage to using the small jigs is that the fish do not swallow the bait.  Instead of having to dig the hooks out of a small bluegill that swallowed the bait, and subsequently killing the little thing, you will find almost every fish hooked where the hook can be easily removed and the fish released with an excellent chance of survival.  Take a picture of the kids with their fish first though!

Missouri River

Everytime I am on the Missouri River in northeast Nebraska, I wish I had more time.  I could spend days, maybe years exploring all of that water and catching fish.  I did not have a lot of time to do some exploring and fishing on my own this trip, but I quickly checked a couple of areas and caught a couple of bass, both largemouth and smallmouth.  I found enough to know I need to spend some more time in those spots, and there will be some more and hopefully bigger fish caught.  Stay tuned.

2 Comments so far
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First and only time I was at Ponca State park was a few years ago on a free trip I won at a BOW event at Halsey. I watched someone catch a fish out of the Missouri River. My nieces and I waited patiently for them to get it in to shore. What was it a drum. I was so dissapointed. I was hoping to see a nice bass or something like that.

Comment by Nancy Fox

There are lots of folks that would be happy catching a drum. There are some bass there though! I have caught smallmouth from the Missouri River shoreline right there on Ponca State Park. Anytime a person is fishing that river, you never know what you might catch, and that is part of the fun!

Daryl B.

Comment by whitetips

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