Get in on five of the hottest bites of the fishing season.
1. Lake Trout (although smallmouth bass, steelhead, and brown trout may interrupt your party)
Photo by David J. Sams/Windigo Images
The Expert: Jeff Pierce, 42, Scottsville, NY, portfolio manager for Mustad
Where: Lower Niagara River, in front of Fort Niagara and the big sandbar at the mouth of the river leading into Lake Ontario
When: Late October through the end of November
Why: This is not fishing–it’s abuse of the resource. You will catch a mixed bag of 60 to 100 fish. The baitfish pile up just off the current edge. Alewives and emerald shiners get flushed down the current and create a buffet for all the sportfish.
How: If you’re going to pick one bait to catch all species, swim a 5-inch grub off the bottom. Lakers and smallies hug the bottom; browns and steelhead will be higher in the water column. Use a ¼-ounce jighead with 20-pound braid connected to a 15-pound Seaguar fluoro leader.
Quick Tip: A lot of people fish grubs too fast. You have to fish these baits super slow. Be patient and you will get hammered by something.
2. Rainbow Trout
Photo by Alamy
The Expert: Chris Horton, 40, midwestern states director, Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation
Where: White River, Cotter, AR
When: November through January
Why: The whole White River system is loaded with stocked trout, both rainbows and browns. Plus, these fish reproduce naturally. Even a very inexperienced angler will catch 25 to 30 trout a day here.
How: This is easy–just buy a can of corn. Use a small split shot and a small hook. Put a kernel on the hook and let it drift.
Quick Tip: This is the best time of year to enjoy this fishery because the river does not fluctuate nearly as much as in summer.
3. Smallmouth Bass
Photo by Mike Lillie/Windigo Images
The Expert: Chris Gulstad, 41, executive director of marketing, Pradco Fishing
Where: Mississippi River between Monticello and Elk River, MN
When: The first week in June (the bass opener for Minnesota)
Why: During this week, the fish are active and very willing to bite. They live in crazy current, so they fight hard. You will catch 100 fish a day.
How: The most surefire technique is to take a 7-inch lizard like the YUM Zellamander and drag it behind the boat while you drift downstream with the current.
Quick Tip: This is not a fishery for big bass boats or anything with a V bottom. It’s skinny water with current that is sometimes fierce.
4. Largemouth Bass
Photo by Mitch Kezar/Windigo Images
The Expert: Ish Monroe, 39, Hughson, CA, Bassmaster Elite Series pro
Where: Clear Lake, CA
When: Late April into early May
Why: You will catch 100 bass per day, 50 of which will be between 3 and 5 pounds apiece.
How: Throw a Snag Proof Ish Phat Frog.
Quick Tip: Swing hard when you get a bite. These fish will bury themselves in grass.
5. Albacore Tuna
The Expert: David Brinkerhoff, 31, Woodland, WA, product development engineer for G. Loomis rods
Where: Look for structure that causes an upwelling alongside a temperature break.
When: Second week of August
Why: The fish are a little shallower at this time of year, so you can catch them deep or just below the surface.
How: A butterfly jig will load the boat.
Quick Tip: You can never work a jig fast enough–speed is a fish killer.