One question that I am often asked by beginners is why fish take a lure. There are only three reasons that I know of: hunger, anger, and curiosity. Some fish are natural fighters and will strike viciously at any moving object. A few, such as the sunfish and bluegill, are insatiably curious and will crowd around a strange bait. But hunger is the main reason fish strike. Therefore, in most cases, if you wish to get a fish on your hook, you must present him with a tasty looking morsel of food.
HOW TO FIND FISH
To any accomplished angler knowledge of the “hot spots” where fish may be lurking is of primary importance. It is, of course, impossible to predict their whereabouts with one hundred per cent accuracy, but certain general areas can be defined as preferable to open water. It is best in most cases to try these first.
Depending on the time of day, the season, and on atmospheric conditions, living areas are usually around sunken logs, stumps and snags, weed beds, lily pads, deep holes, entrances of cold feeder streams, boulders, gravel bars, slate ledges, undercut banks, waterfalls, backwaters beside fast currents, eddies and coves off the main part of a stream or lake, and so on.
At these locations, fish find the necessities of life: shelter, food, security, comfortable temperatures. Fish rarely wander far from these natural homes except when there is extreme fluctuation of water brought about by storms and drought. These are the spots that experienced anglers search for as they travel a stream or lake shores. It’s here where the expert pauses to fish, passing up all the unproductive or “dead” water between. By finding these locations, then wading or boating carefully into casting position, you’re going to have fun, and catch fish.
Getting down to specific cases, panfish are usually shallow-water species, although extreme temperatures will force them deeper in the water. Bluegills and sunfish move around the edges of weed beds feeding on bugs and hellgrammites; crappies prefer their homes around snags and brush piles; while rock bass, as their name implies, prefer rocky reefs. Yellow perch, on the other hand, wander in schools across sections of lake bottom that have no distinguishing characteristics. But even they, in springtime, gather around docks, piers, abutments, and similar structures.
Largemouth bass, pickerel, and northern pike usually like shallow water when feeding and prefer to lurk near weed beds and lily pads. They feed in the early morning and late evening hours on hellgrammites, bugs, frogs, min-nows, crayfish, and mice. During midday they rest in the holes in the weeds, under logs, in the shade of overhanging bushes, or in deep holes near boulders and rocky shores.
Trout often prefer to lurk in the shadows and remain hidden during the day. Undercuts in banks and under bridges are among their favorite spots. Here the fish wait during the sunshine hours, darting out of their lairs for food – or for your lure – that is drifting past. These are choice spots for lunker (lunker means “big” to the accomplished angler) trout.
WHERE TO FIND FISH IN STREAMS
1. Snags and sunken trees are fine spots for bass and lunker trout.
2. Undercuts in banks along a stream often shelter trout.
3. The white water at the base of a small waterfall is a good place to drop your lure.
4. Hidden rocks in a fast current are excellent places to look for fish.
WHERE TO FIND FISH IN LAKES
1. Work small coves that dot shorelines, casting from boat to edge of weed beds or at point of deep drop-offs.
2. Fish find natural food where streams enter lakes. Weed beds at such locations are excellent spots for bass, pickerel, and pike.
3. Lily pads and weed beds in 4 to 10 feet of water are favorite spots for largemouth bass, and you may even catch pickerel or pike there.
4. Rocks, ledges, and deep holes are number one hot spots for small-mouth bass.
In time you will learn just where the fish are lurking. Good luck!