Consider switching up fishing tactics

Al Smith - Guest Columnist

For those of you who have been fishing open water for at least four months now, this may be a good time to change tactics and challenge yourself.

I’m one of those anglers who likes to switch up and fish for a variety of species if I can. I also like to use different methods to catch fish. I primarily fish with artificials, but do use live bait now and then. I love to fly fish, but also love using ultralight outfits. I enjoy getting out the baitcasters and casting jigs for bass, but also like the relaxation of fishing a plastic worm, whether it’s a 7-incher or larger or a 4-incher on a spinning rod. When we get to the normally really warm months of July and August, I enjoying pitching a tube, jig or some form of soft plastic bait to shaded vegetation, brush or other cover. Bass love to hide in these areas and you can haul in some dandies doing this.

There are times I use my boat and only target bass using my bass fly rods. A Clauser minnow or a woolly bugger are excellent choices, especially along a rocky shoreline. Once I hooked a 12-pound catfish on a Clouser. That fight alone was worth the evening trip.

Targeting whatever will bite on a twister tail, tube or other small soft plastics on a 1/32ounce or 1/16 ounce can offer a delightful evening. A 12-inch bass on 4-pound test line can be lots of fun. If you get a bigger fish, make sure you have your drag set correctly or you know how to back reel.

When I used to take Canadian fishing trips, fishing for muskie was the highlight. The thrashing and fight on this fish is priceless. And if you happen to hook one in the upper 40-inch range or low 50s that shoots out of the water like a rocket, it’s something you will never forget. You don’t find many pike in Ohio, but I used to target this species in an Indiana lake with 7-inch Rapalas or other bigger minnow-type lures.

And a few times out of the year, I fish the piers on Lake Erie for white bass or whatever will bite. You can have hit-or-miss days doing this. Following an evening of plenty of wind wand water splashing over the pier and no fish, I found a beautiful early morning of little wind and by myself on the end of the pier in downtown Port Clinton. Later another angler showed up who was using a tube for bass. While I was catching plenty of white bass on a Jann’s swim tail minnow and a Charlie Brewer 2-inch slider, he was getting both largemouth and smallmouth on his tube.

Lately, a fishing buddy and I have been fishing soft plastics and lures we may not have used in years. We did the same thing last summer. We’ve had fun each time. I’ve been using a 3-inch Sassy minnow with a thumper tail. I’ve caught bass as small as 9-10 inches, but also have hooked some in the 3-4-pound range. I have caught as many as 14 in a 2-hour outing and as few as 5. Trying to better match reels to rods on a sunny and windy afternoon, I caught 8 bass with my main goal of getting my equipment the way I wanted it. I was trying to toss an 1/8-ounce jig using a baitcaster. It was not an easy feat, but I did get the equipment to work for me.

If you fish a lot, try for some different fun with a challenge of changing how you target certain species.

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When I’m along Lake Erie, I’m always on the lookout for waterfowl and of course bald eagles.

If you fish one of the piers, it is not unusual to see bald eagles.

One day, an eagle flew relatively low to the downtown PC pier. This bird had to have at least a 7-foot wing span. While in the Magee Marsh Wildlife Area, we saw an immature (all brown) come flying out of its nest. These birds do not get their white head and tail features until they are about 5 years old. Heading out of the area, a mature eagle came flying straight toward my vehicle and crossed only a coupe of feet above it.

Blue herons are a treat no matter where you see them. In Magee one day, we spotted two that were fishing for their dinner. One grabbed a decent-sized carp while the other grabbed tightly to a water snake that was likely 3-feet long. I’ve seen plenty of herons with fish, but I had never seen one with a snake.

It can be awesome to see wildlife in action.

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A bill that recently passed the Canadian Parliament makes border access easier for U.S. boaters.

With insights from NMMA Canada and the Canadian and U.S. boating industry and stakeholders, the Canadian Parliament has passed a bill that no longer requires American boaters to report to Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) officers whenever they enter Canadian waters - something that has been nearly impossible to determine given the complexity of boundary lines.

U.S. boaters will now be exempt from reporting to CBSA, permitting they do not anchor or arrive on shore. With its implementation, American boaters should now enjoy a more welcoming boating environment in Canada.

In a recent NMMA study, it was concluded that nearly 4.3 million Americans boat in the Great Lakes region alone every year.

Al Smith

Guest Columnist

Al Smith is a freelance outdoor writer. You may contact him at and follow him on Twitter @alsmithFL

Al Smith is a freelance outdoor writer. You may contact him at and follow him on Twitter @alsmithFL