doWnSizing your game!
Its not a secrete that the majority of our lakes on the West Coast are highly pressured, especially with many of our larger and even local lakes and fisheries at the lowest water levels they have been in years. With the increased pressure, comes not only smarter fish, but well educated fish. Often times these fish, which we are targeting, have seen dozens of lures over their lifetime. The majority of anglers have Super Spooks in the tackle box, but when those aren’t working, how many are willing to downsize to a 1/8oz dart head, 4-6lb fluorocarbon line, and a spinning rod to catch fish? Like any technique or method, when fishing for schooling fish, do not be afraid to make changes to catch fish. Often times you will catch your largest fish of the day on a dart head, or a scrounger head, and your smallest on your super spook.
of baits with limited or virtually no success. Using fluorocarbon line and making longer casts will help increase your success rate, but the baits you use can be the biggest determining factor how suc- cessful your day turns out. Personally, I like to have 5-6 different baits tied up and ready to go when targeting schooling fish. When choosing bait, you want to try and match the size and color of the baitfish to your bait. Some basic baits include a 3” wacky rigged Senko, a walking bait such as a Lucky Craft Gunfish, and a Zoom Fluke are all great baits to have to attack breaking fish on the surface with. When using walking baits, I like to use 10lb fluorocarbon line, a Dobyns DX703 rod, and a Shimano bait caster that allows for in- crease casting distance. When casting on fish that are breaking
the surface on the water, you want to be as close to, or right on top of the boil as possible. This is true regardless of your bait of choice, the closer you cast to the boil, the better
Next time you head out on that hot sum-
mer day to the lake and are trying to
figure out how to catch some summertime
fish, look no further than schooling fish!
chance you have of catching the fish. At times the fish can be sen- sitive to the larger baits, which is why downsizing to a more subtle bait can make all the difference. As pictured, a Gunfish is a great bait for targeting break fish, however at times the fish seem to pre- fer a quieter bait, such as a Balsa Pro, which has no rattles, and is virtually silent in the water while walking back and forth across on the surface. For the 3” Senko, I use a 7’ Dobyns spinning rod, with 6lb fluorocarbon line. The lighter line allows for increased casting distance, and minimizes visibility to the fish as you are trying to entice fish to eat your bait over a live baitfish. For any of the afore- mentioned lures, it’s always best to start out with natural colors, such as shad pattern or clear baits. Again, we want to match the forage in the local fishery. The key for any of these techniques is to vary your retrieve until you become successful. Do not be afraid to speed up, slow down, or change your twitching. Make changes until you find the right retrieve to be successful. Schooling fish tend to chase bait to the surface throughout the day, however they do not just disappear when they are not break- ing the surface anymore.