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Follow The Fish For More Fishing Success

By Mike Frisch and the Fishing the Midwest Team          

When we go fishing, we want to catch something.  Sure it’s fun to watch the ducks and enjoy the nice weather and spend time with friends or family, but if we just wanted to watch ducks or enjoy the nice weather or spend time with friends of family we wouldn’t need to have a boat or a bunch of rods and reels and tackle and other gear.  The reality is, if we’re going fishing, we want to catch a fish.  Better yet, we want to catch a bunch of fish, and still better, we want to catch some big ones.  To increase our odds for catching a bunch of big ones, we need to remember that fish move around a good deal during a fishing season.  For fishing success, we need to move around too. 

Following are some ideas for fishing where the fish are.  Fish are interesting creatures.  They do two things their entire life:  They eat and they reproduce.  Depending on whether they’re in the eating or reproducing time of year will determine where they will be in a lake or river or pond.

Right now in the Midwest, most fish are in some phase of the reproduction period, or spawning period.  In other parts of the world they could be done spawning, or they might still have a layer of ice over them.  For now though, in the Midwest, most fish are either getting ready to spawn, they are actually spawning, or they’ve recently finished with this ritual.

Most spawning for most fish takes place fairly close to shore or in shallow water.  For that reason, we’ll want to concentrate our efforts close to shore or in shallow water: That’s where the fish are.

After the spawn, the fish take a few days to recover.  Then they go on a feeding binge.  They’ll be wherever the food is, and they’ll continue to follow the food the rest of the year.  After the spawn, all fish do is eat.  If what they’re eating moves, the predator fish will follow close behind.

Fish don’t always do what we think they should do.  In many areas, walleyesfor example, are thought to be a bottom-hugging fish, and, in many lakes and rivers they are.  If the food they’re eating is near the bottom, the walleyes will be near the bottom.

But in a good number of waters, walleyes eat baitfish that suspend.  These baitfish might be fifteen feet above the bottom.  When the walleyes want to eat, they need to move to where the baitfish are.

Some lakes have bug hatches, and a variety of fish eat these bugs.  The bugs hatch on the bottom of the lake and drift toward the surface.  As the bugs move up, so do the fish that are eating them.  If you want to catch these fish, you need to keep your bait at the depth where the fish are.

Because the area where the fish are is changing, a successful angler needs to change lure presentations also.  If the fish are up off the bottom, you’ll want to select a lure that runs up off the bottom.  A jig crawled along the bottom is great if the fish are on the bottom, but it isn’t much good crawled along the bottom if the fish are fifteen feet up. 

If you want to catch more fish, you need to follow them throughout the fishing season.  Find the food they’re eating, put your bait there, and you’ll increase your odds for fishing success.  As always, enjoy your time on the water and remember to include a youngster in your next outdoors adventure!

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