Better Make Those Spring Plans Now
by Steve Welch
Most of you are sitting around bored stiff already. I
know I am and I have only
been off the water a few days. So I thought why not tell some readers some little
ins and outs that I use to get on big fish on my little three day weekend getaway's.
First of all my guide service keeps me pinned down after
April first so I always
take a little trip down to Paris Landing on
two buddies and I tell them that they have to plan three weekends in March to just
drop everything and go on little notice. We will go on the weekend with the best
wind forecast. Cold doesn't bother me but March rain can be too cold to go so
you might throw that in as well as wind.
Since I have been so many times, I don't need a guide so
my plans can be a spur of
the moment type thing. If you do need a guide then I would book towards the very
end of the month on into mid April. I like to go earlier before the ledge fish
start leaving and going on into the bays. This will happen when water temperatures
get to about fifty. You can fish much shallower and even cast sliders, if that is
your bag but the fish are spread out and chances of that big fish of a lifetime
are better earlier.
I go down to Paris Landing all I can during the winter
because of my quest for very
big crappie and it is just a five-hour drive and I can do that on a normal
weekend. I just got back from down there and had a ball and I am going again
first of the year.
Another great trip for you guys
that just want to get a good pull on your rod is
opening day at
is turned on, you won't believe the smorgasbord of fish you can capitalize on.
Last year we threw blade baits looking for walleye as I had done very well the
year before only to be very limited on them but instead caught huge white bass
pushing three pounds and tons of nice channel cats up to ten pounds, all on gay
blades and cicadas. I had
stringers of catfish you couldn't lift. I guide up
there for about three weeks then move back to Shelbyville to stay on the crappie
for the entire spawn. My guide trips fill very quickly for this bite as people
are really wanting to get out and early.
Mid April has Shelbyville water temperatures getting into that mid-fifty range
and that means the males will start moving to mid depth ranges and will chase
a bait with the warmer temperatures. Hovering over fish in brush will work but
since it is the sun they so desire. The fish tend to be on top the brush so
hovering isn't as effective as casting to brush and retrieving. I have buddies
who fish a fixed cork to do this but for me I like to just cast and count down
a Charlie Brewer slider grub in
either white and chartreuse or chartreuse. I put
this on an eighth ounce jig. I just run it about four feet down in ten to twenty
foot of water.
The spawn at Shelbyville really gets going in May, as does the Corp of Engineers
bringing up the lake to summer pool. They drop the lake almost six feet in mid
December and try and keep it there until May first. That is another good reason
for my short jaunt to
However, the best thing about fishing on a corp. lake is that when the lake
rises the fish go up in the feeder creeks and will get into the flooded smartweeds
and remain shallow long after the spawn until the food leaves. I have caught
male crappie and nice ones up in two foot of water Fourth of July weekend. Way
better than having to fight the big boats. This again is my busiest time of
the season and since I only guide weekends. It doesn’t take long to fill my schedule.
Once we get into July, I am walleye hunting slash white bass fishing for the
entire month. July is my best shot of getting walleye, mainly because I am so
busy crappie fishing.
The fish are shallow and up on the windswept flats and once they leave I just
switch over to the white bass. From late July through Labor Day it is the hard
fighting white bass that I am after. I catch them schooled up on steep drops and
just catch a ton of them. We fish just two rigs. One is a drop-shot rig with a
minnow about two-foot up the line on a short one-inch loop knot. The other is a
quarter ounce jig and slider grub. We catch more fish on the drop-shot rig but
I catch more species that are different on the slider. I have had crappie; big
bass and huge buffalo all hit this bait. These trips are a young angler's dream.
I had a young boy tell me last year that he had more fun than going to Disney.
Now that has to be my best complement ever. We actually catch a hundred fish
before lunch on many outings and on this trip we caught ten of those big buffalo
with one pushing thirty pounds.
Then after Labor Day it is six weeks of musky fishing. They move into the backs
of the coves on the south end of the lake and will blow up on anything. I tell
clients it is hours of disappointment followed by seconds of what dreams are made
of. This my little window in which I would guide for them. I have turned down way
more trips than I have taken just because my mentality is put a ton of fish in
the boat every guide trip and you just can't do that.
Then November hits and we are smack dab in the best crappie fishing that we have.
November and December are my best months to limit out every trip. Fish are
bunched up and we catch a ton of them.
For those of you who want to learn more about seasonal patterns I am giving
seminars all over the state this
winter. First I am at
fishing school but the dates are not nailed down as of yet.