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Bank-fishing is probably the reason why most of us came to love fishing in the first place.

It’s the most simple and cost-effective way to have the maximum amount of fun. It’s recreation in its purest form: no muss, no fuss-just you, your tackle, some bait, the sky, the water, a warm day and fish. When we think of bank-fishing, we often remember childhood fishing trips with friends or relatives, dunking crickets in a farm pond and thrilling to the pulse of scrappy sunfish dashing to and fro at the end of a line. We conjure memories of dogwoods blooming along the lakeshore as crappies are pulled one after another from a shallow-water brush pile. We think back to crisp autumn days fishing for perch from a pier, a starlit evening spent casting jigs to ravenous white bass, or that just-right summer afternoon when the bullheads snatched up every worm thrown their way.

Guess what-it’s all still there, waiting for you. Why don’t you go back to that place and time and take some kids with you? The following tips will help you make new fishing memories. esswill give you some options to consider.

Sunfish
No group of fish is more tailor-made for bank-fishermen than the sunfish tribe. They frequent shallow water most of the year and provide exciting fish-a-minute action for shorebound anglers of all ages. Many of us cut our fishing teeth while bank-fishing for these bantam prizes.

1 Fish the Frenzy: Spring is the “good luck” season for bank- fishing sunny fans. During the days just before spawning activity begins, sunfish go on a feeding frenzy to offset their reproductive growth spurt. Since sunfish are feeding more, this is a great time to catch them.

**2 Watch the Moon: **Another fact in the angler’s favor is the concentration of fish during the spawn. There might be a dozen nests in an area the size of a car, and there might be several beds along a 100-yard stretch of shoreline. Because sunfish are crowding the shallows, they’re simple to find and easy to catch. Look for the hottest spawning action around the time of the full moons of April through June, depending on your latitude.

3 Worm Sets: Offerings of small earthworms and crickets on No. 6 or No. 8 long-shank hooks are rarely ignored. Wear polarized sunglasses so you can better see the clusters of dish-shaped nests, then approach stealthily. Weight your presentation with just a single split shot, or maybe nothing at all except a hook and bait flung out with a long pole. When you feel the fish move off, set the hook.

**4 Hit the Docks: **Boat docks are hot spots for post-spawn sunnies. These structures provide shade, security and a smorgasbord of foods. Savvy bank-fishermen use a short, light spinning or spin-casting outfit to skip, flip or ricochet a bait or lure into even the tightest areas. Use unweighted crickets or slow-falling artificials such as curlytail jigs to mimic falling insects. Flip these under the dock and prepare for a strike as the bait falls.

5 Fast-Water Tips: Stream fishing shines in autumn. Flowing waters aren’t subject to the vagaries of turnover, so sunfish can be found in familiar haunts. To catch them, rig a live-bait tidbit or small jig beneath a bobber. Float it past boulders, fallen timber, sloping gravel bars, underwater ledges and other cover and structure.

**6 Pond-Water Tactics: **If your goal is to catch trophy-class sunnies, focus your bank-fishing efforts on ponds. Nearly half of all state-record bluegills were caught from ponds, including many weighing between 2 and 3 pounds. Some poorly managed ponds are inhabited by tiny, stunted bluegills, but those with balanced populations of predator and prey fish provide some of the best fishing available for heavyweight sunnies. [pagebreak]

Crappies
Many bank anglers consider crappies special prizes because th’re relatively abundant and always ready for a tussle. It doesn’t hurt that, when rolled in cornmeal and deep-fried, crappies are also delicious. Fortunately, in spring and autumn, when water temperatures are moderate, crappies invade shallow cover in ponds, rivers and lakes-brushy tops, stump fields and clusters of standing snags-putting them within easy reach of bank-fishing enthusiasts.

7 Don’t Move: It helps to know one special quirk of crappies: They sometimes can be caught on moving baits, but what they really like is food that’s doing nothing at all-just hanging there in one place, immobile. Making a presentation in this fashion takes patience and practice, but do it and watch your catch increase. Live minnows and small jigs are unbeatable enticements for this approach. Use a thin, sensitive bobber to detect delicate pickups.

**8 Use a Bright Bobber: **It helps to use a bobber with a brightly colored tip. Keep your eyes locked on it. If the float tilts left, a crappie has taken the lure from the right side-vice versa if it tilts right. Set the hook, even on suspicion.

**9 Skip the Small Fry: ** Small crappies are good practice subjects, but if you start catching runts and you’d rather be landing slabs, move to another bank-fishing location. The little guys are fun, but big ones aren’t likely to be among them.

**10 Stay Shallow: **Most anglers fish deeper water when big crappies don’t turn up in the shallows. Deep water has a certain mystique; we believe it’s where the lunkers lurk. But when it comes to crappies, more often than not you’ll find Mr. Big in shallower water, not deeper-a boon for shorebound anglers.

** 11 Work the Banks:** Search for bank-fishing locales with access to the backs of out-of-the-way coves, shoreline reaches of flooded willows and other shallow water. Or simply get repositioned so you can cast your bait toward the bank instead of away from it. Wall-hanger crappies might be found in water that is barely deep enough to cover them.

** 12 Mark the Spot: **Remember the precise locations where you catch, lose or see big crappies-the specific stump or the particular bush, for example. A return visit could turn up the big slab you missed before or another trophy that moved in.

[pagebreak] White Bass
During much of the year, white bass are inaccessible to bank-fishermen. Whites aren’t bank-huggers like sunfish. They usually roam open water in lakes and rivers where shad, their favored prey, are abundant. For a week or two each spring, though, white bass leave open water and ascend tributaries to spawn on shallow shoals. During these runs you can catch whites from shore.

** 13 Watch the Temperature: **A 55-degree water temperature triggers the upstream migration. To pinpoint prime streams, call your state fisheries department. It can tell you where the runs occur. Read local fishing reports or call bait shops to learn when a run begins.

** 14 Beat the Crowd:** Productive bass runs are always jam-packed. Bank-fishermen sometimes line up shoulder to shoulder. Try night-fishing. The bass don’t mind feeding in the dark and the crowd of anglers will be absent.

** 15 Fish the Jumps:** White bass spawn over shallow gravel bars and shoals, but anglers can shortstop them anywhere along a prime spawning stream. Runs usually progress in waves as schools of fish move upstream. Later in summer, it’s still possible to fill a stringer of white bass from the bank, providing there are abundant numbers of minnows present. Whites always school, and fishing the “jumps,” as the surface feeding frenzies of white bass chasing minnows are called, is a summer blast.

16 Use a Minnow: White bass aren’t choosy about lures, so long as they look like minnows. Favorite artificials include 1/16- and 1/8-ounce jigs; light spoons (1/8-ounce Al’s Goldfish, 1/16- or 3/16-ounce Dardevle Midget); small crankbaits (Norman Deep Tiny N, Bill Lewis Tiny-Trap); 1/8-ounce spinners (Mepps, Rooster Tails), blade baits and tailspinners (Gay Blades, Mann’s Little George) and jig-and-minnow combos. If you can buy minnows or shad or seine your own, try fishing a bottom rig on a wide, relatively shallow sandbar. The heads and tails of islands are also magnets for white bass in summer.

** 17 Double Down on Jigs:** Where allowed, many aficionados work tandem-rigged jigs. Tie on a 1/16-ounce jig in your favorite color, then tie another of a different color about a foot above it. Cast upstream and reel in slowly, occasionally imparting little hops and twitches with the rod to move the jigs across the bottom.

18 Try a Jigging Pole: If the stream you’re fishing has deep pools, try this: Instead of a casting outfit, use a 12- to 16-foot jigging pole with line the same length as the pole. Tie on a jigging spoon and work it vertically in the pool. Jerk the spoon hard, raising it a few feet, then let it flutter down on slack line. Most strikes come when the spoon falls, so be watchful.

[pagebreak] Bullheads
Certainly, many of our finny favorites are more challenging, bigger, prettier and “fancier” than bullheads. But these ubiquitous catfish still rank at the top of the list because they love the shallows of ponds, small lakes and little streams and are so accommodating. They’ll take a variety of baits any time of day or night without a hint of caution and they’re as good in the frying pan as any fish that swims.

** 19 Carry Spares:** Make sure you have plenty of small hooks and sinkers on hand; chances are you’ll lose quite a few. Bullheads lurk around weed beds and other tackle-grabbing cover.

20 Best Baits: A stop at the grocery store or bait shop will turn up plenty of good bullhead baits. Fresh chicken liver is first-rate, as are worms, hickory-smoked bacon and commercial stinkbaits. For a quick do-it-yourself bullhead bait, cut hot dogs made of chicken into 1-inch pieces. Place in a quart container and add two packages of strawberry Kool-Aid (unsweetened) and two tablespoons of minced garlic. Fill the container with water and marinate the franks overnight. Then you’re ready to fish.

**21 Beat the Bottom: **Fish on the bottom for bullheads, using a split shot or a small slip sinker to carry the bait down and keep it there. Or use a bobber to float the bait slightly above the bottom if you’re not concerned about snags.

**22 Stay Sharp: **To land more bullheads, always use extra-sharp hooks. When tight-lining, you should feel the bullhead yank at the bait before it swims away. Count to three when the fish starts moving away, then set the hook with a quick upward snap.

23 Wait Out Your Bobber: When workinsh, 1/16- or 3/16-ounce Dardevle Midget); small crankbaits (Norman Deep Tiny N, Bill Lewis Tiny-Trap); 1/8-ounce spinners (Mepps, Rooster Tails), blade baits and tailspinners (Gay Blades, Mann’s Little George) and jig-and-minnow combos. If you can buy minnows or shad or seine your own, try fishing a bottom rig on a wide, relatively shallow sandbar. The heads and tails of islands are also magnets for white bass in summer.

** 17 Double Down on Jigs:** Where allowed, many aficionados work tandem-rigged jigs. Tie on a 1/16-ounce jig in your favorite color, then tie another of a different color about a foot above it. Cast upstream and reel in slowly, occasionally imparting little hops and twitches with the rod to move the jigs across the bottom.

18 Try a Jigging Pole: If the stream you’re fishing has deep pools, try this: Instead of a casting outfit, use a 12- to 16-foot jigging pole with line the same length as the pole. Tie on a jigging spoon and work it vertically in the pool. Jerk the spoon hard, raising it a few feet, then let it flutter down on slack line. Most strikes come when the spoon falls, so be watchful.

[pagebreak] Bullheads
Certainly, many of our finny favorites are more challenging, bigger, prettier and “fancier” than bullheads. But these ubiquitous catfish still rank at the top of the list because they love the shallows of ponds, small lakes and little streams and are so accommodating. They’ll take a variety of baits any time of day or night without a hint of caution and they’re as good in the frying pan as any fish that swims.

** 19 Carry Spares:** Make sure you have plenty of small hooks and sinkers on hand; chances are you’ll lose quite a few. Bullheads lurk around weed beds and other tackle-grabbing cover.

20 Best Baits: A stop at the grocery store or bait shop will turn up plenty of good bullhead baits. Fresh chicken liver is first-rate, as are worms, hickory-smoked bacon and commercial stinkbaits. For a quick do-it-yourself bullhead bait, cut hot dogs made of chicken into 1-inch pieces. Place in a quart container and add two packages of strawberry Kool-Aid (unsweetened) and two tablespoons of minced garlic. Fill the container with water and marinate the franks overnight. Then you’re ready to fish.

**21 Beat the Bottom: **Fish on the bottom for bullheads, using a split shot or a small slip sinker to carry the bait down and keep it there. Or use a bobber to float the bait slightly above the bottom if you’re not concerned about snags.

**22 Stay Sharp: **To land more bullheads, always use extra-sharp hooks. When tight-lining, you should feel the bullhead yank at the bait before it swims away. Count to three when the fish starts moving away, then set the hook with a quick upward snap.

23 Wait Out Your Bobber: When workin

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