The first warm rays of May sure had the Northern out looking for food in the shallows this weekend. It took a bit of time to locate the fish but once we were on them we hammered them hard. The action was pretty slow from 8am to about 9:30am but then things changed for the better. Much better. Jay wasn’t fishing as he’s more of the observer type, but in a matter of a couple hrs I boated about 12 pike and one musky all looking like they want to be 10 pounders. Two of the fish were probably already there.
There was a tournament from the Blue Anchor the day before this and I heard the winning fish were in the 6-7 pound range. I think I would have competed for the win that day had I been registered. I only found out about it that day. Oh well, there’s always the Lancaster tournament in two weekends. I really hope I can duplicate this type of pattern that day.
They say you have to be versatile and keep an open mind when fishing; that you need to adapt. This was the perfect example. I tried my usual spots and lures and boated a few fish here and there but nothing worth the hassle. I caught two fish in the 2 pound range the day before and while sitting by the bonfire that night I decided to look elsewhere. Basically I look for feeder creeks and rivers at this time of year. I found new areas that offered the proximity of really deep water, a feeder creek, and spawing shad and perch. All fish species seem to be concentrated in the same areas and depth, using mostly old dead weeds from last year and wood or rock as cover and areas to find food since there is no new weed growth yet. You’ll find shad, perch, walleye, pike, musky, catfish, suckers, eel etc all in the same area at this time of the year. The water temp is about 45-52 degrees depending on where you are. I’ve found that water temperature is key. I always try and notice water temperature when I catch a big fish or many fish in the same area and then try to find that same temp range later in the season. Don’t forget though that the lake will stratify, meaning that surface temp can be much warmer than the actual temperature at the bottom in the summer months. Also, flowing current areas will stay cooler than bays where the water sits still. I’ve found differences of 10 degrees from my dock near Glengarry Park to the deep flats about a km north of the East Light.
The other factor you have to really be concerned with is boat control and where your boat is in relation to the structure you’re fishing. I can’t stress this aspect enough. This is shallow, clear water and you need to be concerned with spooking fish. I wouldn’t eat a sandwich sitting on a tray with a huge ship floating in the air 10 feet above my head either. In addition, you might want to consider a drift sock or anchoring in various positions as well as a trolling motor or paddles for steathly approaches. No sense in driving over the structure in shallow water with the big engine unless you absolutely have to. Try positioning (tying) the drift sock and anchor at various positions on your boat and you’ll find that it will behave quite differently. I use a large clip on the end of a piece of rope so that I can easily and quickly move my drift sock from one position to the other. Other than that, cover water, look for things that have life in the early season. This is pretty easy to figure out if you sit down and try to understand the body of water you’re fishing. Follow your gut instinct, and if that doesn’t work, try something different.
Then all you have to do is worry about presentation, wich I’ll leave for you to determine, 🙂
Tight lines, Jigger.