Not everyone is lucky enough to have access to a boat, but that doesn’t mean you can’t have the potential to get your hands on some true giants. This is especially true from Spring into early Summer. I posted about “Early Season Walleyes” last week and keying in on shallow water, walleyes aren’t the only species this time of year that are very susceptible to lures thrown from shore. The water temps in these shallower waters near the bank are the first to warm up, drawing baitfish and gamefish up from their cold water lairs.
Where to choose to fish from shore should vary depending on the species you are targeting. Shallow soft bottom bays on the North end of the lake is a great location to key in on for some excellent panfishing action. Crappies and Bluegill flock to these areas, often times immediately after the ice out. Keep an eye out for baitfish when you are scoping out new areas to try. You will be able to see the shine of their sides swimming in the shallows if the sun is out. Often times there will be very subtle ripples on the surface from schools of feeding baitfish. Finding the forage that panfish feed on is a sure fire way to find spots that will produce fish. The most simple way to trick these panfish into biting is a light jig or Flu-Flu under a bobber. Be sure to set the depth of your bobber just a couple of feet down so your bait is up off the bottom. These fish will typically be suspended and feeding up, it also helps to keep your bait free of weeds, leaves, and other debris that gathers on the mucky bottom.
When targeting walleyes from shore it is important to look for areas that have deep water access near by. Active fish will slide up on top of the shoreline flats from the nearby deep water to feed. This is especially true during low light conditions or when you are fishing under cloudy cover. Combine deep water access with a little bit of current from a bridge, incoming creek, or channel and be sure you have your camera with. The image to the right is a perfect example of the type of area that will not only hold walleyes year around, but BIG walleyes. I have two go-to presentations for shore fishing walleyes.
The first of which is a simple jig and minnow combination. This is a very versatile set up that allows you to pitch the bait out to the deeper water and work it up the break. Pay close attention to how far out your jig is when you catch your first fish, or even if you simply receive a bite. Picking up on this will allow you to focus your efforts in that particular depth range. Fish can certainly be scattered at various depths, but it’s most likely no coincidence if you pick up a fish or two that both happened to bite as soon as your bait reached this key area.
My second go-to presentation involves casting crankbaits. This works exceptionally well in rocky areas that tend to eat up your jigs. There’s not much more frustrating than constantly getting hung up and having to re-tie. Crankbaits can be worked through these areas with ease. If you feel the lure dive into a rock simply give it some slack and wait for it to float back out of the obstacle. A Rapala Husky Jerk in the #10 size is tough to beat. It can be steadily retrieved, slowly worked and paused when fish are sluggish, or absolutely ripped through the area during an aggressive bite. This is an especially great tactic during low light or night fishing (bring a headlamp!). Mix a little wind into the situation to break up the surface and be ready for the feeding frenzy to begin.
If you have fished from a boat before during windy conditions you know that it has the ability to make boat control a complete nightmare. Far too much time can be spent working on boat positioning instead of focusing on your lures presentation and how the fish are reacting. Lucky for you, you are fishing from shore and the fish are your number one priority! It also makes for a quick escape should conditions worsen and a storm begins to brew. You will never be more grateful for the fact that all you have to do is go hop in your vehicle and head home, skipping the entire boat loading process.
Shore fishing offers great opportunities for even the most novice anglers, yet seems to get overlooked. You most likely drive past great shore fishing locations everyday without even thinking twice. Keep a couple of rods in your vehicle and give it a shot some day after work. Doesn’t take too much time to stop and try a few casts.