Bob Jensen: Catch more fish this open-water season

Bob Jensen, Fishing the Midwest
Special to the Ames Tribune

Fishing success means different things to different people. To some anglers, success is catching a bunch of fish. They’re not concerned about size; they just want to feel something pulling back on their rod.

Other anglers measure their success by the size of the fish they caught. They’re not so interested in numbers; they just want to catch a big one, although a lot of big ones is what they’re really trying to accomplish.

A third group of anglers just enjoy being outside and sharing a boat or dock or riverbank with a friend or family member or even just by themselves. I’m the type of fisherman who likes to be with someone that I enjoy being around, but I also really like to catch fish. I guess that’s why most people go fishing. I generally don’t care what kind of fish I catch, and I like to catch big ones, but most of all, I just like to get bit.

It sounds basic, but we need to be fishing where the fish are hanging out. That’s such an important concept, but sometimes it gets overlooked. Early in the year, fish will be close to where they’ll spawn or where they’ve already spawned.

Just because you caught a bunch on a certain spot last year or on your last trip doesn’t mean they’ll be there this time. Good spring spots aren’t necessarily good summer or fall spots. So many things factor into where a fish will be located. We need to be aware of what fish are doing when you’re after them. In the spring, most species of fish will be spawning, and the different species of fish don’t all spawn at the same time. Pike go first, then walleyes, then bass and panfish. Spawners can sometimes be tough to catch, so go after a species that has completed the spawn.

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A man fishes on Big Woods Lake in Cedar Falls, Iowa on May 21, 2019.

Don’t fish memories. Don’t assume that because we caught them on a purple crankbait last time that that same crankbait will be what they want this time. If you’re fishing at the same time of year, maybe that purple crankbait will still produce, but if not, don’t delay in trying something else.

If you think you’re around fish but they’re not eating what you’re using, use something else. Maybe try a different color, or maybe use a completely different approach. Slow down and show them a jig with plastic, and if that doesn’t do the job, replace the plastic with a minnow or leech. If that’s not it, try something else. Just remember that if they’re not responding to what you’re doing, do something else.

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It’s fun to try a new lake or river or pond. Some bodies of water are more productive than others at a certain time of the year. Small, shallow lakes often are better than large deep ones early in the year. So many of us get comfortable on a certain location so that’s where we always go. If that’s what you enjoy, keep doing it.

Fishing is supposed to be fun, and you should do what’s fun for you. But many anglers also enjoy exploring new places. You never know what you might find in that little lake that you always drive by on the way to your favorite fishing lake. Check it out. You never know.

There are lots of things we can do that help us catch more fish. If you keep these ideas in mind, your chances of catching more fish will be increased.

To see all “Fishing the Midwest” television, fishing video tips and fishing articles, go to www.fishingthemidwest.com.