Summer is here, and with summer comes some very good fishing opportunities. The spawn is over, so the fish, regardless of specie, are doing one thing: They're looking for something to eat. If you can put a bait in front of a fish in a way that looks appealing, they'll probably eat it. A very good bait that will appeal to a variety of fish is a plastic bait of some sort. Plastics come in all shapes, sizes, and colors, and they’ll all catch fish. Here are some ideas for catching fish on plastic baits now and for the next couple of months.
A plastic bait rigged on a jig-head will be very productive much of the time. Some jigs are made for plastic baits. The best jigs for plastic have long-shanked hooks and keepers that prevent the plastic from sliding down the hook.
Most of the time it works best to thread the plastic on the jig. Put the point of the hook into the nose of the plastic and thread it onto the jig.
Fish can be color selective at times, so try a jig-head of one color with a plastic of another color. Experiment with different color combinations until you hit on the right one. Watermelon is a good plastic color in many situations, and white is another good go-to color. Everyone in the boat should be using a different color until the fish reveal their choice for that day.
In many bodies of water the weedline is the center of activity for fish, so that's a good place to throw your bait. All sorts of fish species travel along the weedline, and a jig and plastic will appeal to them all. Use smaller baits if panfish are the quarry, larger for walleye and bass.
An eighth ounce jig will be good most of the time. Fish it on eight or ten pound test line. There are lots of very good line choices available. Braid is super-sensitive and also provides solid hooksets. Monofilament is very forgiving because it stretches a bit. Vegetation can be hard on line, so use line that is abrasion-resistant.
When you get on the water, find the deep weedline. On clear lakes it will be deeper than in lakes with stained water. The deep weedline often sets up in seven to fifteen feet of water depending on the lake. Position your boat within easy casting distance of the weedline and start throwing. You'll usually find the fish in pockets and points in the weedline. Watch your line closely as the bait sinks. Fish will often hit on the fall. If the line does anything out of the ordinary, set the hook.
Try a variety of bait shapes. The traditional plastic worm, something like a Rage Cut-R Worm in the six inch length is a very good starting point. If the fish are active, go to a bulkier plastic, maybe a Rage Craw. If they’re not active, go smaller. Ned Rigs have been catching a lot of fish that need some coaxing the past few years.
Plastic baits stay on the hook well: They're not always ripping off as you pull them through the weeds like live bait does. Live bait is a great option when the bite gets really tough, but plastic is a very good place to start this time of the year when you're just looking for some fish to catch. And, when we go fishing, that’s what we’re doing: Looking for some fish to catch.
Bob Jensen's fish photos
Crappie on Kabetogama
Fond fish memories
Crankbait attracts walleye
Crappie on the line
Largemouth goes small
Walleye on opening day
Clear Lake crappie
South Dakota perch
Smallmouth bass in open water
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