Here’s a list of what’s going to be biting this weekend, and where.
By Ric Burnley
Ice fishing is red hot in New England. Anglers are already scoring some huge northern pike and, as the ice breaks up, the bite will really take off. Captain Blaine Anderson (www.fishingct.com) told us that several 40-inch fish topping 20 pounds have been pulled through the ice. “It’s close to spawning time,” he said, “as the ice clears anglers will find these fish in the coves and backwaters of the Connecticut River.” Guys are finding fish through the ice that are upwards of 20 pounds 40 inches. As ice dissipates, Anderson suggests that anglers look for pike in shallow water adjacent to the weed beds where the fish will be spawning. “Any place in 3 to 8 feet of water with weeds will be a real good bet,” he says. Swimming plugs such as Huskie Jerks and Xraps work well as do Bombers. You may think that these baits are too big, but they’re not this time of year.
Catfish anglers love cold weather. But this winter’s warm spells have thrown the fish and the fishermen for a loop. “Cold water keeps the fish bunched up in specific locations,” explains Scott Wood of www.catfishingmagazine.com, “but this winter the weather has been warmer and the fish have been moving more.” So Scott and his cronies have had to change their tactics to keep up with the cats. “We used to fish a hole for 15 minutes before moving,” he says, “now we give it an up to an hour.” Instead of finding fish holed up in one location, he hopes to intercept them as they move through the river. Wood has been catching big cats on Virginia’s James River and its tributaries with fresh chunks of gizzard shad. “Look for bait marks and the fish will be under them,” he said.
It’s lunker season in Lake Fork, Texas. “We’re catching a lot of great big fish right now,” Pro Guide Larry Barnes (www.lakeforkfishingguide.com) reports. Since the fish are pre-spawn, most of these bass are between 5 to 8 pounds. “We’re already starting to catch a few double-digit fish,” he said. Until the fish move onto their beds, Barnes’ anglers are throwing Rat-L-Traps, spinnerbaits and jigs. He’s also fooled big bass by rigging Lake Fork Tackle worms wacky style. “Right now, we’re finding the fish along the grass lines and creek channels,” he says. Once the fish move onto their beds, he’ll start throwing more plastics like a lizards and tube jigs. “We’ll still use Senkos, too,” he adds. Barnes expects the fish to begin spawning by mid-March. Currently, the bass are a little finicky with the best bites coming on warm, cloudy days. “Last week a front came through and brought rain and the fish went nuts,” he says. “Once the fish start spawning, as long as the weather lets you fish you can catch fish,” he says.
The weather sucks but the fishing is excellent off San Diego. Paul Lebowitz of (www.kayakfishingzone.com) reports that huge schools of squid floated off La Jolla Canyon getting the attention of big yellowtail and white sea bass. The fish got the attention of local anglers who were able to react quickly and land some impressive catches. “My friend and editor of Fish Rap, Brandon Cotton, landed a 61-pounder in the rain,” Lebowitz says. The abundance of squid has allowed anglers to catch their own bait on the scene. “I’m not sure how long the bite will go on,” he adds. Once this run ends, Paul is keeping his fingers crossed that the fish will return in a few weeks.
“Sturgeon fishing has been excellent,” reports Dennis Hull at Bite Me Guide Service (www.nwfish.com) in Keizer, Oregon. Hull says that there are good numbers of big fish on the Willamette River, but he’s had to work to find them. “The weekend warriors are having a hard time,” he admits, “but there are plenty of fish in the River.” Hull says that the key is finding fish that want to bite. “Keep moving until you find them,” he recommends, adding that anglers may have to move several miles to find the right stage of the tide. “You can’t rely on your favorite hole,” he explains, instead, he tells anglers to search for the fish with a fish-finder. “I go through a systematic bait rotation—smelt, squid, shrimp, herring, and anchovies—until I find what the fish want to eat.” If the sturgeon still won’t bite, Hull moves to another spot. “We hammered them last weekend,” he says. To target sturgeon, Dennis uses a sliding sinker from 12 to 24 ounces on 50 to 65-pound super braid on a 9-foot rod. “When they’re being sneaky, the lighter steelhead rods are better,” Hull says, “If the fish bites and feels a broomstick they won’t stay with it.”
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