Advice for anglers: Be different, flexible, experiment

Be different, prepared, flexible, experiment.

Those are keys words of advice for anglers as the fishing season and catches begin heating up.

Don’t get locked into a particular technique or stay with the same lures if they stop working.

I’m the kind of angler that fishes for different species and will vary my techniques.

I love to fly fish for panfish, but also enjoy using mini lures cast on ultralight rods to entice them. And, I will turn to live bait. I tip flies or small plastic baits with a spike or wax worm to lure these good tasting fish under a bobber. And I’m not afraid to troll or drift for them using a small jig or mini lures.

I also seek bass using a variety of techniques. Pitching a tube, jig or worm into thick cover can yield some dandy catches. But I also enjoy surface fishing for them, especially twitching a Torpedo or “walking the dog” with a Zara Spook. Simple worm or jig fishing can be relaxing and swimming a 1/4 or 3/8 ounce jig tipped with a 3 to 4-inch plastic minnow may produce some fantastic action. You can cover a lot of water or “run and gun” by fishing crankbaits, a spinner bait or a 1/8 or 1/4-once jig tipped with a 3 or 4-inch plastic minnow.

If you have them, use different rods ready for action. I learned this a long time ago fishing bass tournaments. I do the same when fly fishing since I use that method the most these days.

A case in point was a recent fly fishing excursion. I was catching bluegills on a wiggler type fly. That fly usually entices crappies as well. That evening it didn’t. So I went with another rod, which had a No. 10 Clouser minnow tied on. I quickly began catching crappies.

Be prepared.

When it come to bass fishing with a fly rod, I have 4 rods ready for action. When I fished bass tourneys, I used to have 6 casting or spinning rods ready.

I always have a Clouser (No. 2, 4 or 6) tied on one and it’s usually a bluegill pattern. I often use green pumpkin on a second one since I’m fishing in clear water. I also have a surface bug like a hair frog on another. The fourth rod will have a woolly bugger (No.4 or 6 in green, black or brown an sometimes white). That’s used if I hit a good looking area and nothing takes the Clouser. I fish an area thoroughly. The hair bug is ready if I see fish hitting the surface. The hair bug is also ready when dusk arrives and bass may be likely to hit a surface fly. I will switch to a black and blue Clouser at dusk since bass go for darker lures at that time.

Have a game plan, utilize patience and don’t be afraid to change. It can be challenging, but the rewards are worth it.

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Many area outdoor types head north to Michigan and they can take advantage June 11 and 12 of the “Three Free” weekend.

In addition to Michigan residents, nonresidents can grab a fishing rod, ride the off-road trails and visit state parks and boating access sites — all free of charge. During Free ORV Weekend, Michigan residents and visitors legally can ride without buying an ORV license or trail permit.

Ohio’s free fishing days are for residents only and will be held June 18-19 during Father’s Day weekend. These two days all Ohio residents are invited to experience the state’s public fishing opportunities without purchasing a license. All size and daily limits still apply.

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Despite not reaching its goal of having 60 million anglers by 2021, the Recreational Boating & Fishing Foundation (RBFF) did find plenty of positives from its 2022 Special Report on Fishing. At least 52 million Americans ages 6 and older went fishing in 2021, according to preliminary data.

It’s the second time in 14 years fishing participation exceeded 50 million. There has been a six-year upward trend, according to RBFF.

“An additional 2.3 million Americans went fishing last year compared to pre-COVID-19 years. More importantly, our key audiences for growth, including women, Hispanics, and youth, continue to participate at historically high levels,” RBFF President and CEO Dave Chanda said.

Key findings in the report were:

• In 2021, 52.4 million Americans went fishing, up 4.5% over 2019.

• 12.9 million youth (ages 6-17) went fishing in 2021, up 14% over 2019.

• 4.7 million Hispanics fished in 2021, up 7% over 2019.

• 19.4 million women went fishing in 2021, up 8% over 2019.

• 86% of current fishing participants first fished before age 12, demonstrating the critical importance of introducing fishing at a young age.

• Americans primarily fished to enjoy the splendor of nature while escaping the usual demands of life.

“While our efforts to engage diverse new audiences continue to yield strong results, our leaky bucket remains an issue,” said RBFF Senior Vice President of marketing and communications Stephanie Vatalaro. “In 2021, there were 11.7 million new and returning anglers, yet 14 million lapsed out. Together with our state and industry partners, we’re working to strengthen retention efforts in 2022 and beyond.”