Weather Forecast


Deep weeds have more active fish

Kurt and Anna Day caught this pair of largemouth bass on Little Mantrap lake using plastic worms along the deep weedline. Numerous fish species utilize deep weeds for habitat. (Jason Durham / For the Enterprise)

Recent above average water temperatures have made some fish species more lethargic and others more active. While walleye action may have slowed down, species like crappie, largemouth bass and muskie have been keeping anglers busy.

Yet even those aggressively feeding fish won't simply jump into your boat. You have to be able to find them and tempt them to bite.

The crappies have been in semi-deep water, 12 to 20 feet. However, each lake has a lot of territory that's 12 to 20 feet deep without any crappies in the vicinity. The key to finding the schools of crappies are weeds. Vegetation can only grow to a certain depth due to light penetration and the maximum depth where weeds survive varies from lake to lake because of water clarity.

Sunlight can penetrate deeper in clear water which enables weeds to grow in deeper water. Those deep weeds are good habitat for crappie and are essential for catching crappie right now.

Some crappie anglers prefer the traditional minnow suspended beneath a bobber while others cast tiny jigs with a soft plastic tail and no live bait. Both methods work, but casting the jig will help you find active schools of fish quickly since the jig is constantly moving.

In fact, many people don't realize that trolling for crappie is another efficient technique. By doing so, you cover a lot of territory and your bait is in the water for longer periods of time compared to casting.

Largemouth bass will be found in and around those same weeds as the crappies. Deep cabbage weed, coon-tail, grass and milfoil are all great habitat for deep water largemouth bass. Keep in mind that the weedline, that depth where weeds eventually stop growing, is generally the area where you'll find bass.

Bass will school around the deep weeds, giving you opportunity to catch numerous fish by continually casting in the same place.

Baits that are applicable for catching deep-water bass include soft plastic baits, crankbaits and even the aforementioned crappie jig.

Since bass are accustomed to feeding upon minnows, crayfish, insects and a myriad of creatures, expect to catch them using baits of similar size and shape.

The final species that becomes increasingly active as the water temperature warms are muskies. However, even active muskies can be difficult to catch. Known as "The Fish of 10,000 Casts" muskies are prone to follow lures to the boat, then disappear. Getting a muskie to actually bite is a challenge.

Although muskies can grow very large and traditional muskie lures are bigger than the fish that some people catch, smaller baits are sometimes useful to get a muskie to strike. If you down-size to baits that are more relevant for catching bass and northern pike, your chances of catching a muskie exponentially increases.

Keep in mind that with the warm water temperatures, fighting a fish for a lengthy period can be fatal for them. Play your fish quickly and carefully release them to give another angler an opportunity to catch a whopper.