Outdoors: Experiment when you return to freshwater fishing

By Al Smith - Contributing Columnist

After months away from open water fishing, anglers sometimes forget what works best during certain times of the open water season or some simple tips.

A fishing buddy and I commented on this on a recent evening when we ran into each other on a local lake.

Some anglers will get a mindset where they think fish basically will be at only one depth and may want only color, the angler’s favorite. And they may remain in the same spot for hours, even if it is unproductive.

Experimenting is a key to fishing success. Change depths, colors and spots.

That evening this friend and I tried different spots. After about 90 minutes of fishing, we compared results and methods. He caught some crappies, while I landed bluegills. The two spots are known for producing both species.

Ironically, we were both using the same color soft plastic - root beer. We both fished the soft plastic under a bobber and slowly twitched it. He was fishing about 1 1/2 feet deep, while I was fishing about 2 feet deep. I had begun at 1 1/2 feet but could not get a bite at that depth. Just a slight depth change can make a big difference. Sometimes I change depth about 3 inches at a time, but most often I go in 6-inch increments.

Don’t forget to have some wet flies among your tackle assortment for panfish. When fish are finicky, a small fly many times may entice bites. Following a couple of warm days after that evening outing, I could see fish fish swimming in schools and boiling on the surface. They would not touch plastic, but some dandy hand-sized bills could not resist a black/blue fly pattern. Fish the fly slowly under a bobber on an ultralight rod.

Weather conditions can force a depth change. A sunny, bluebird sky type of day normally means fish are deeper. On an overcast day or toward sunset, fish tend to be shallower. Don’t forget to go to darker colors toward sunset if fish stop biting on the color you have been using.

An exception to this is when fishing for crappies in the spring. They move to shallow water to spawn, meaning there is not much of a water column for them to suspend, especially if they are in a couple of feet of water.

Consequently, some anglers take a more aggressive approach for crappies and cast and swim jigs or fly fish for this species. Among the best places to fish for crappies are weeds, brush, dock pilings, etc.

One can find bluegills in the shadows as the water warms and often can find them by seeing their saucer-like spawning beds.

• • •

Youth hunters in the Limaland area outperform their adult counterparts as the spring wild turkey season began.

Hunters age 17 and under took 54 turkeys in the region during the two day season, April 16-17. That compared to 44 turkeys harvested during the youth season a year ago. On opening day of the season, Limaland hunters did not fare quite as well as a year ago, taking 76 turkeys this year compared to 80 on opening day a year ago.

The number of turkeys taken during the youth hunt in the area this year, with numbers from 2015 in parenthesis, were: Allen 11 (10), Auglaize 8 (3), Hancock 5 (10), Hardin 13 (14), Logan 13 (16), Mercer 2 (2), Putnam 8 (13), Shelby 12 (9) and Van Wert 4 (3).

The number of turkeys harvested on opening day with numbers from opening day in 2015 in parenthesis were: Allen 11 (10), Auglaize 8 (3), Hancock 5 (10), Hardin 13 (14), Logan 13 (16), Mercer 2 (2), Putnam 8 (13), Shelby 12 (9) and Van Wert 4 (3).

Statewide, the youth harvest was slightly down, with 1,564 harvested this year compared to 1,589 takenlast year. Opening day results were up with 2,511 harvested this year compared to 2,335 a year ago.

• • •

As expected, the Ohio Wildlife Council at its last meeting on April 13 approved a couple of changes in the 2016-17 deer season regulations.

Changes include moving the two-day gun season to Saturday and Sunday, Dec. 17-18, and muzzleloader season to Jan. 7-10, 2017.

Deer hunting seasons include archery from Sept. 24, 2016-Feb. 5, 2017; youth deer gun from Nov. 19-20, 2016; gun from Nov. 28-Dec. 4, 2016 plus Dec. 17-18, 2016 and muzzleloader from Jan. 7-10, 2017.


By Al Smith

Contributing Columnist

Al Smith is a freelance outdoor writer. He may be contacted at flyfishman7@hotmail.com or follow him on Twitter @alsmithFL

Al Smith is a freelance outdoor writer. He may be contacted at flyfishman7@hotmail.com or follow him on Twitter @alsmithFL

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