I have long been a firm believer that the best lure bite in late summer usually occurs very early in the morning. Having said that, I’ve had several bookings lately with newer anglers hoping to improve their lure skills, also stating a preference for fishing from the boat – no desire to wade. While I’m always eager to accommodate my clients, expecting to catch fish on lures from the boat throughout the day is a tall order in our area at this time of year.
Why do I say this? Fishing from the boat means you can only present your lure to fish within casting distance, whether the boat is sitting on the Power Pole or drifting. Drifting helps, of course, but fish in shallow water (we fish mostly in four feet and less) can be spookier than fish in deeper water. So, boat noise becomes a factor to consider. Wade fishing also provides opportunity to stop frequently and saturate an area with multiple casts before moving forward again, not to mention being able to alter course at will to cast toward “fishy” signs as they appear. Another aspect to consider is that a group of waders can be spaced in a line, forty or fifty feet apart. Naturally, effort across this wider front is more likely to intercept feeding fish than the same group confined to the boat.
So, if wading is not an option, here are some tips for those wanting to improve their lure skills and catch more fish from the boat.
Casting skill is vitally important. The farther and more accurately you can cast the more opportunities for fish to see and react to your lure. Practice makes perfect and you will need a quality rod and reel outfit. I prefer the Waterloo HP Lite 6'7" paired with a Lew’s baitcaster. Waterloo quality and service is the best in the industry.
Monofilament or braided line? Some anglers say mono casts farther but everybody has their own opinion and preference. I say try both. I prefer Berkley’s Trilene Big Game 12-lb mono. As for braid, you can't go wrong with 30-pound Mustad.
Now you have your gear figured out and you’ve perfected your casting technique. What about lures? I usually start my day with topwaters unless it’s really cold in wintertime. They may not produce the most fish but they are outstanding tools for locating fish. Lots of blowups without hookups is a sign they might take a soft plastic bait more readily. Change lures quickly or have a buddy throw his plastic right where the blowup occurred. We catch lots of fish doing this.
If continuous casting becomes too tiring, try running your plastic under a popping cork. The cork game is slower-paced while the chugging and splashing of a cork attracts fish. The bait dangling under the cork, especially a scented bait, will draw a lot of strikes. Lots of corks to choose from nowadays; I prefer the Bass Assassin Kwik Cork.
A 1/2 ounce weedless gold spoon is another personal favorite and requires less effort than other lures. Just chunk and wind at varying speeds and let the natural flutter and flash attract the fish. I recommend a swivel on the spoon to reduce line twist.
Structure is always important! Our mid-coast back lakes offer great year-round drift and wade fishing, as well as protection from harsh wind in all seasons. Fish-holding structure in these lakes includes grassbeds, guts, bars, and mouths of sloughs. I try as much as possible to focus my drifting and wading on these structures. Long drifts or wades initially, then shorter and more focused “reruns” in the most productive areas. Punching a mark on your GPS when a fish is caught helps refine the process.
Mid-bay oyster reefs are another solid option to consider for drift fishing when the winds are favorable. Many of these have shallow crowns, some of which we can drift across, depending on the tides. Approaching a reef in my 24’ Shallow Sport, I first search for signs of bait activity and/or birds feeding along the reef before committing to a drift.Gary and I are pleased to have been invited to join the Huk Performance Fishing Gear Pro Team. Fishing as much as we do year-round, we have always taken pride in using the best of the best gear available and Huk’s products have certainly made a favorable impression in that regard. Please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us if you have any questions or possibly seeking suggestions on gear that might be best for you.