Gerald Almy: Tips for upcoming fishing seasons

Gerald Almy

With the unusually warm February we’ve enjoyed, it’s hard not to think ahead about fishing. Here are some quick tips that may help you fool that wary brown trout or jumbo-sized smallmouth bass this year.

Catfish: Prime spots to find catfish include drop-offs, deep holes, steep bluffs, points humps, bars, edges of islands, ripraps near dams and mouths of tributaries. Fishing can be good both day and night in such areas.

Lure fishing: Unlike lakes, where surface lures are best early and late in the day, rivers offer topwater action all day long because the water is mostly shallow. Try propeller lures, chuggers, buzzbaits and wobblers any time of day when fishing a river for smallmouths, largemouths or spotted bass.

Walleyes: Trolling crankbaits is a terrific way to locate walleyes. But once you pinpoint a school, drop a marker buoy and fish the area more intensively. Drift-fish through the spot with a slip sinker rig, cast and retrieve with a jig and nightcrawler combination or use live bait with a slip-bobber and fish from a distance.

Spinnerbaits: For a retrieve that bass, northern pike and pickerel find hard to pass up, reel your spinnerbait in steadily just under the surface. Make the bait create a bulge on the top of the water, but not actually break through the surface. This “wake” seems to drive gamefish crazy.

Float fishing: When planning a float trip, avoid stretches with dangerous rapids or dams. You will have to carry the boat around these, resulting in extra tiresome work and lost fishing time. The waters above dams are generally less productive than free-flowing stretches with riffles and rapids anyway.

Lure fishing: Always carry two or three pre-rigged outfits in your boat. This way you can keep each lure rigged with the best line size and rod action. You’ll also save time retying lures.

Barracuda: When the bonefish and tarpon prove elusive on saltwater flats, try going after barracuda. But be sure you reel your lure in at top speed. These fish don’t like a slow, plodding bait and usually won’t even look at it, let alone strike the offering. Surgical tube lures are the best bet in most cases, though plastic worms and topwater plugs can also produce on these lean, silver-white fish.

Flies: The Muddler Minnow is one of the most versatile flies every developed. Use it with split-shot crimped on the leader tippet or a sink-tip fly line to fish deep and imitate crayfish. Fish it mid-depth to imitate minnows. Dress it with silicone to float it on the surface and mimic grasshoppers and other large, chunky “terrestrial” insects.

Bass: When planning a night fishing trip, try to go when the weather is calm. You’ll be able to hear your lure land so you know you’re fishing the exact spots you want to. Bass will also hear and see the bait more readily if wind and wave action are at a minimum.

Panfish: Small jigs, grubs and spinners are productive lures for bluegills, redbreasts, rockbass and other panfish. But if strikes are slow in coming, try tipping them with tiny pork rind pieces or a small strip of flesh cut from another fish you already caught. This soft, scent-filled addition often turns on reluctant fish and attracts the biggest ones of the day.

Trout: When fishing “terrestrials,” (imitations of insects born on land that happen to fall into the water) concentrate your casting efforts near the shore. This is where the majority of these critters dribble in from over the course of a day, and large fish often hover near the banks, waiting for these insects such as beetles, ants, grasshoppers, crickets and cicadas to tumble in.

White bass: After white bass spawn in spring, they head for main-lake points, submerged islands, humps, river-channel edges, the intersection of two creek beds, and flats near deep water. Use a topo map to locate these and then probe the spots with white jigs, slab spoons or live minnows at depths of 12-36 feet.

Award-winning outdoors writer Gerald Almy is a Maurertown resident.