When feed­ing frenzy fades

The Denver Post - - SPORTS - By Terry Wick­strom

If you have been fol­low­ing my ra­dio show the last few weeks, you know we have been talk­ing a lot about sum­mer peak fish­ing. This is the time of year when the warm wa­ter stim­u­lates the fish’s me­tab­o­lism, but the young bait­fish are ei­ther not avail­able or not yet large enough to pro­vide a good for­age base. This pe­riod pro­vides some of the eas­i­est fish­ing for warm-wa­ter species through­out the year. You may have also heard us say this pe­riod will be end­ing soon as large schools of bait­fish be­come avail­able to feed on.

We re­cently got a ques­tion on the ra­dio show from Tim in Long­mont about how to ap­proach fish­ing af­ter the sum­mer peak. Tim wrote: “You have been talk­ing a lot re­cently about the tremen­dous sum­mer peak fish­ing go­ing on. You have also fore­warned every­one that it will come to an end when the shad grow to the size where the fish can feed ag­gres­sively on them. My ques­tion is: What ad­vice do you have for catch­ing fish con­sis­tently when that hap­pens, es­pe­cially for lakes that don’t have much struc­ture? Does it be­come an early-in-the-day and latein-the-day bite? Are there al­ways some fish on the weed lines and places like that? You have talked par­tic­u­larly about walleyes, where there are good pop­u­la­tions of large­mouth or small­mouth bass, will they be chas­ing the shad as well and be caught with sim­i­lar pre­sen­ta­tions?”

I was out of town on as­sign­ment this Satur­day, so Brad Petersen, who was fill­ing in for me, an­swered the ques­tion. He also got some help from leg­endary an­gler Al Lind­ner.

Petersen started by ex­plain­ing that while many small wa­ters in Colorado do not have sig­nif­i­cant struc­ture, they do have cover. Large­mouth bass, in par­tic­u­lar, like the cover. With the avail­abil­ity of more for­age, the bass (and other species) are less in­clined to move far to chase a lure.

Petersen sug­gested a two-prong ap­proach. Go to a fi­nesse-type pre­sen­ta­tion like a jig worm or other small plas­tic and try to put it right in front of them. The other ap­proach is to use a reaction bait like a crankbait or sur­face lure and cover wa­ter. Lind­ner added that if you can con­trol your time on the wa­ter, fish­ing will be best for about the first three hours in the morn­ing and the last hour of the day.

As the sum­mer peak winds down, it will be more im­por­tant to un­der­stand the species you are chas­ing and its pre­ferred for­age. This may vary from lake to lake. As large schools of shad roam the wa­ter, many species, like wall­eye, white bass and oc­ca­sion­ally small­mouth, tend to sus­pend with the bait­fish. You can still catch them, but your ap­proach may have to change. Trolling is of­ten an ef­fec­tive way to tar­get these fish. An­other is to lo­cate them with your elec­tron­ics and cast to them.

In Horse­tooth Reser­voir, as an ex­am­ple, most of the walleyes sus­pend with the shad and smelt. A lot of the small­mouth bass fo­cus on craw­fish and other struc­ture ori­en­tated for­age. Fish­ing af­ter the sum­mer peak can still be very good, but you need to do your home­work and work harder.

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