Another fishing season is here. Across the Midwest, some anglers are fishing in open water in rivers below dams, and lots of folks are on the ice.
This is a great time to think a little bit about the fishing season that has just passed and to make plans for the upcoming fishing season.
I’m sometimes a little slow to catch on to the technology part of fishing. This past season I realized how far behind the curve I was when it comes to the chips that some anglers are using in their sonar units for lake mapping. I don’t know how many times when we went fishing in my boat my partner would ask if I had a chip for the lake we would be on. This has been going on for a couple of years now, so I recently decided to find out what all this “chip” talk was about.
Anglers are putting mapping chips in their depth-finders, and the chips reveal the structure in a lake. You can see where your boat is on the structure.
Whereas your depth-finder only shows the structure directly below your boat, the map shows the structure of the entire lake. By watching your sonar screen, you can see where structures are located, and you can drive right to them. The maps will help you avoid shallow water, and they’ll show you where you are on the lake.
By running your depth-finder on split-screen, you can see where you are on the structure, and you can see if there are fish down there. The anglers that I have spoken with say the LakeMaster Maps are very accurate and easy to use. I plan on becoming more familiar with mapping chips in 2011.
Soft bait continues to earn a place on the end of angler’s lines. Baits like Gulp!, Gulp! Alive, and PowerBait are becoming more popular every year.
You need to fish soft bait differently than live bait for maximum effectiveness. At times, a Gulp! Waxie below a bobber or something like that will be very effective for panfish, but most of the time you need to keep it moving. Jigs and spinner rigs for walleyes with soft bait attached are very effective. Soft bait has become such an important factor in the eyes of anglers that jigs have been developed specifically for soft bait. The Slurp! Jig from Northland Tackle is an outstanding jig that was created specifically for the use of soft bait.
Fishing in many areas of the Midwest, and in fact, across much of North America, continues to get better. It is apparent that slot limits work much better than minimum size limits unless the minimum size is very high. I’ve fished on lakes that, for instance had a minimum size limit for bass of twenty inches. The fishing was outstanding. Same thing’s true for muskies: The lakes with fifty inch minimums, for the most part, have more big muskies. If we want better fishing, we can have it, but in some places the regulations need to be changed.
As we enter another year of fishing, I’m optimistic about our fishing opportunities. There are some trouble spots, but for the most part, fishing in the year 2011 should be very good. Be sure to get fishing as much as you can this year.
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