III. The Fish
III.A. Getting Started on Channel Catfish
There are many ways to catch channel catfish. The information presented in this article is just one approach. But if you use this method - popularized by In-Fisherman - you are likely to find big cats all over Nebraska with remarkable consistency. Your whiskered giant may exceed 30 inches in length and weigh 20 pounds or more. Just remember one rule: all channels catfish exceeding 26 inches in length should be returned to the water. One day, those fish could grow to legendary proportions, perhaps even threatening the state record of 41 pounds.
Rod/Reel: The ideal setup to chase big channel catfish is a medium/heavy rod paired with a bait casting reel, preferably one with a "clicker" that alerts the angler when a fish has mouthed the bait and is pulling out line. If you don't have this high-end gear on hand, there is no need to give up - a spinning setup with ample heft will also get the job done. Adequate rod/reel combos can be purchased for as little as $20 from any sporting goods store.
Line: Whether you select a braided line or monofilament, get something with high test strength. Channel catfish are not line shy, and you are likely to be fishing in low or no light conditions. Twenty to 50 pound test will give you the strength you need to stay in control. Personally, I like the stretch of monofilament over braid to aid in setting circle hooks (discussed under the next section, Terminal Rig). The only time I use braid is when fishing live bait (a better choice on rivers in this author's opinion). With live bait, the lighter, more flexible nature of braid allows baits to move more freely and garner more attention from hungry catfish.
Terminal Rig: The slip-sinker rig is ideal. To construct a slip-sinker rig, simply cut an 18-inch length of line and set it aside to use as a leader in a few moments. Slide a one ounce bell sinker onto your main line and then tie a large barrel swivel to the end of the line. Tie the leader to the other end of the barrel swivel. Tie a hook to the terminal end of the leader. For this application I recommend a nickel-sized circle hook with a wide gap.
"Slip-sinker" rig, shown with snelled conventional hook.
Bait: Channel catfish will eat just about anything, but there is one bait that out performs any other bait when it comes to big channels - cutbait. Cutbait is simply a fish cut into chunks and placed on a hook. Bring a supply of worms to your local reservoir and catch two or three small fish - species and sizes that can sustain the harvest. Make sure to follow all bag and possession limits. Bluegill make good bait and are typically easy to catch, but any fish "local" to the body of water you are fishing will work great. Cut the fish into chunks as small or large as you like. I favor baits that are just smaller than my wallet. Try to cut the bait at an angle to create the greatest amount of raw/bloody surface area. Chunks should be pierced onto the hook in a corner to avoid crowding the gap. Try to hook a bone or something semi-solid to keep the bait from ripping off the hook during casting.
Technique: It doesn't get much easier or more relaxing. Cast out cutbait, put rods in holders, engage clickers, and find a comfortable place to wait for the action to start. If you are using spinning gear, reduce your line drag so that a fish can easily run with the bait, pulling out line from the reel. Depending on your supply of cutbait and your mood, you can refresh your baits as often as every 15 minutes. I like to keep my baits about 10 feet off shore. Many anglers feel the need to cast the bait out as far as they can. But, long casts often separate the bait from the hook and place the hook in less productive locations (see Location/Habitat below). More often than not, I use a little underhand flip to place the bait. When a fish is running with your bait, you will need to resist the urge to set the hook - circle hooks will set automatically from the light resistance provided from the clicker or loose drag. Once the fish has pulled off line for several seconds, simply engage the reel (or tighten the drag on spinning gear) and slowly begin reeling in the fish.
Time of Day: The hour that begins with swarms of mosquitoes and the buzz of cicadas and ends with the faint slash of bat flights is when you are most likely to hear your clicker scream. But often it is worth while to fish all night with a flurry of activity during the dawn hour. This is especially true when water temperatures are at their highest in July and August.
Seasonality: Ice out to ice up.
Location/Habitat: The most likely spots to set up are along windblown shorelines (the wind should be in your face). If the shoreline is a large flat close to deep water, that is even better. Come dusk, channel catfish will leave their deep-water loafing spots and come shallow to cruise shorelines scavenging for food. It won't take long before they come upon your bait.
There are times when the angler should move away from the windblown shoreline in favor of other locations such as deep-water channels, creek inflows and flooded terrestrial vegetation. But by and large, these are special circumstances that I will leave to the reader to learn and apply.
Conclusion: Channel catfish are one of the largest and most common fish that swim in Nebraska waters. Chasing your trophy is likely to fill years of hot summer nights with lasting memories, good friendships, and quality fish. Enjoy!
From Alex T.:
Slip bobber with a 5/0 circle hook and a chunk of gill. The best bobber I've seen/used is sold at Scheel's and comes with a steel leader. I think it's actually for pike/musky fishing, but the bobber is great for cats. It's about the size of 2 tennis balls stacked on top of each other and is made of foam. (Above) the hook I run about a 10" leader - swivel -- 3/8 oz. egg sinker weight - bobber - bead -- bobber stop. Fish weedlines in shallow water towards evening/night. Small live gills will work, too, but they tend to swim towards cover and bury themselves. Fish shallow <3 feet of water.
...if you don't want to mess with a bobber, you can just use a half a fresh caught and fresh cut bluegill (the head half, with the guts hanging out) on a good size circle hook through the lips, no weight or bobber needed...go at dusk and cast it shallow but as far away from yourself as you can. By shallow I mean right next to the bank, seriously!Sometimes I even just walk it down a ways and drop it in rather than cast. If it doesnt get bit in 10 mins or so, reel in and try another spot a little further down the bank. Try to stick to the windblown end of the pond. This method will get you a big cat sooner or later! There are no guarantees in life, but this is an almost guaranteed way to catch some big channels!
Remember, with circle hooks, just let them take it to the end of the leash and hook themselves...I always use a rod holder with circle hooks and I let them bend it over good before I even touch it. You'll get em in the corner of the mouth. If you're getting pecks but not hooking anything, try another spot, that is little ones or something, not the big boy you're looking for!
Circle hooks and chunks of hotdogs.
Cheap hotdog recipe:
1 package of cheap (very cheap) hotdogs
2 packages of strawberry kool-aid
1 mason jar with sealable lid
4 cups water
Cut the dogs into one inch chunks and place them into the jar with the water. Next take your 2 packets of strawberry koolaid and mix them into the jar. Seal the lid on the jar and leave on porch step (in the sun) for 2 days. Place one chunk on a small circle hook, cast into the lake with little to no weight, and be ready.
It won't stink when you get it on your hands, but I do know of someone that replaced kool-aid with garlic cloves and had alot of success.
I grew up thinking worms or nightcrawlers were THE all-purpose bait, but after fishing with several Forum members the past few years, I've had to reconsider. Time and time again I've watched them haul in big channel catfish, respectable bass, and even Master Angler-size bluegills using nothing other than a chunk of cheap red hotdog for bait. "The cheaper, the better," they say, because cheap hotdogs presumably have a higher fat content that leaches into the surrounding water, attracting fish. For catfish and the occasional bass they break off about a 1" piece of wienie; for bluegills, maybe a half-inch chunk. Wienies are almost the ideal bait for beginning fisherman; they're less expensive than nightcrawlers unless you pick up your own after a rain, few novices are reluctant to touch hotdogs, they stay on the hook better, they keep forever in the freezer (catfish don't care if they're a little freezer-burned), and if worse comes to worse, you can eat your bait.
Hot weather Catfish tips from NGPC's Tom Keith -- Nighttime is always the best time to catch catfish and that goes double during the summer months. For channel catfish, try prepared baits, dip baits, chicken or turkey livers, chicken entrails, nightcrawlers, minnows, frogs, sand toads or crawdads. Put the bait near the bottom in five to 15 feet of water near shore and sharpen your cleaning knife. Blue catfish prefer a variety of animal life, such as fishes, immature aquatic insects, crayfish, clams and freshwater mussels. Flathead catfish can be taken on live baits including fish, crayfish, frogs, salamanders, nightcrawlers and large grasshoppers.
III.B. Getting Started on Bluegills
Here is advice from Carilee "for a COMPLETE NEWBIE on how to catch a bluegill."
Go to WalMart and buy the following: Zebco 11 rod & reel combo, box of worms, small needlenose pliers, package of small hooks with a fairly long shank for easier hook removal, package of weighted foam bobbers, about 1 Â¼ inch size, cheap pocket knife or small scissors, cheap chain stringer (if you're keeping fish), and if you can't stand the idea of touching fish or worms, some plastic or rubber gloves. All this will probably cost around thirty dollars. You will also need a fishing license unless you are only fishing with a kid and don't have your own pole. You can get a one-day license for 8.50 or an annual for 26.00.
Where & When:
Keep the worms cool while you drive to a small lake. Best time for bluegills is right around sunrise or sunset, sometimes you also get a bite around 3:00-3:30 in the afternoon. Time of day might be the most important thing in catching bluegills.
When you get to the lake, walk around the shore a bit and watch for small fish swimming near the shore or making ripples out in the water. Sometimes you can figure out where the fish are that way. A lot of times they will be near a dock, submerged log, or pile of rocks, or if it is sunny they might be where the water is in the shade. Pick a spot where you can walk to the shore easily so if you catch a fish you can get to it.
Cut off the little tab on the end of the fishing line and pull the line through the wire loops on the fishing pole. Tie a hook on the end of the line. (Need a Palomar Knot illustration here to show how to tie on hook) Cut off a 1 inch piece of worm and stick it on the hook with the hook going through the worm two or three times. Put the bobber on your line about two or three feet above the hook, so that the worm will not go on the bottom of the lake. Usually the bobber will have some little curved metal wires on each end which will stick out when you press on the ends. That is how you put it on the line. The small end goes closest to the hook. Make sure when it is on, the wires are tight so the bobber doesn't slide up and down on the line. You can twist the ends of the bobber to make sure the ends of the wires are in the little holes on the plastic ends. Now you are ready to fish!
Push and hold the button on your reel with your thumb, and watching the hook, swing the pole backwards. When you swing it forward towards the water, let up on the button and the bobber and hook should go out into the water. Make sure before you do this that no one will get hit by your hook. Might take a little practice to learn how to aim! Reel your line a bit so that the reel clicks back to a locked position and you don't have much slack.
When your bobber is floating, watch to see if it jerks up and down or moves around on the water. Sometimes it is hard to tell if you have a bite or if it's just the wind. When you think you have a bite watch for a few seconds. If the fish keeps biting or your line gets tight, pull back gently but firmly on your reel. You should be able to tell then if you have hooked a fish, you will feel the tension on the line. Reel the fish in, trying to stay clear of logs or obstructions in the water. If you have several bites and then nothing, reel in to make sure you still have bait on your hook.
What to do if you catch a fish:
Unless the fish is very small try to keep it in the water until you can lift it out. Wet your hands and grasp it gently, moving your hand from the front of the fish towards the tail to make the fins lie down on the fish's back and sides. The fins are sharp and can poke you. You can usually get the hook out by grasping it firmly with your fingers and twisting it back and forth a bit to pull it out. If the hook is too far in the fish's mouth you can also grip it with your pliers. If you can't see the hook it is probably best to cut the line leaving a couple inches still hanging out of the fish's mouth. Release the fish back in the water unless you are keeping it & willing to clean it. If you are keeping it, put it on the stringer, by unclipping a stringer link and inserting it through the fish's gills and out its mouth, then clipping it shut again. These work like big safety pins. Tie your stringer tightly to something and put the fish in the water. You can also use a big bucket full of lake water to keep small fish for a while. They will die soon in a bucket if it is warm out however.
This is what I would tell someone who has never fished before by themselves.
from Daryl Bauer, NGPC:
...how about beginning bluegill fishing? Almost everyone will say a small float, a small hook and a piece of nightcrawler. That used to be what I thought too until I started fishing wax-worms year round. You want a beginner to catch some fish, some bluegills? A 1/32 oz. or 1/64 oz. plain jighead with a wax-worm cannot be beat. Put that below, maybe a couple of feet below the bobber, experiment. Use a small bobber (bobbers that are too big are one of the most common mistakes made by folks who are just getting started, a bobber just big enough to float the bait is all you want). The whole rig can be fished with spinning or spin-casting gear, 4-8-pound test line. You know what a bluegill's mouth looks like and you know how they feed--they are made for sipping, "kissing" aquatic and perhaps terrestrial insects--foods that are perfectly imitated with flies or micro-jigs and wax-worms. In the process you can catch a bunch of bass and even some big cats on that poor little jig and wax-worm. Oh, make sure you have some sort of hook removal, hook disgorger tool, small hemostats work great!
Bluegill bait? Nightcrawler. However, this year I have found that bluegill that are even ignoring worms will impale themselves within seconds on a Gulp fry threaded onto a nice #6 tru turn hook.
Hot weather Bluegill tips from NGPC's Tom Keith - The basic method is to suspend a chunk of nightcrawler or a worm below a bobber and cast it around some weeds growing in the shallows, near a partially submerged tree trunk, or along the side of a log floating in the water. Bluegill also hang along the outside edges of weedbeds where the worm/bobber will work just fine, as will a small safety-pin type lure such as a beetlespin that's made for casting with light spinning equipment. Fly fishermen can catch bluegill on a variety of types of flies, including dry flies (Yellow Humpy, Royal Wulff), wet flies (Improved McGinty, Black Gnat, Woolly Worm), and small deer hair poppers.
III.C. Getting Started on Bullheads
Rod & Reel: Bullheads can be caught on any rod & reel combo. For those just starting out I would suggest a Zebco Authentic 33 Combo. The reels come pre-spooled with 10lb test line. With a little care and minor yearly maintenance including new line, these combos will provide enjoyment for many years to come.
Terminal Tackle: You don't need much tackle for catching bullheads. Size 6 bait holder or aberdeen hooks with leaders, size 7 snap swivels, and 3/8 or 1/2oz egg sinkers. Aberdeen style hooks have a longer shank that is easier to grasp if a fish swallows the hook. Snap swivels aren't necessary, but they help to reduce line twist as bullheads like to roll as you fight them. Egg style sinkers will allow the line to pass through the weight so when the fish pick up the bait, they don't feel as much resistance.
Accessories: There are tons of different accessories designed to make fishing more enjoyable. Forceps or needle nose pliers help aid in quick hook removal. If you are keeping fish, an old pair of leather gloves will help protect your hands from the sharp spines of the pectoral (side) and dorsal (back) fins. If you are bank fish a rod holder is handy to have. If you are planning to keep fish for a meal you'll need a rope or chain stinger or even a 5 gallon bucket. You can use the bucket to carry all the little stuff to the fishing hole as well.
Bait: Bullheads can be caught on most any live or prepared bait. In most cases the easiest bait to obtain and fish with is Nightcrawlers.
Rigging Up: Put your rod together and run the line through the eyelets pulling out an extra 3-5 feet of line after you have threaded the line through the last eyelet. Slide on 1 egg sinker and then tie on a snap swivel using the knot of your choice. I prefer an improved clinch knot, but beginners should use a knot they can tie and that they have confidence in. Open the snap part of the snap swivel and attach the loop end of one of your hooks w/ leader. That's all there is to it.
Where to Fish: Consult the NGPC fishing guide for bodies of water in your area that have bullheads in them. Be sure to note an special size or bag limits for the water you choose. Bullheads can be caught anytime of the day, with those hours aroung dawn and dusk being optimum times. Night fishing can be productive as well. Bullheads like structure. Fish weed line, stumps, brush piles, etc. You don't have to be right in the middle of the slop, but the closer the better. Fishing piers or jetties are good places to start as they are usually near fish holding structure.
Fishing for Bullheads: We've got our gear and found a good looking spot to fish. Let's do it! Select a juicy looking crawler from your bait container and thread it on the hook puncturing it several times so it more or less resembles a nice wad or ball of crawler. Locate and cast to a fishy looking spot. Watch your line. When your line stops moving, it is a safe bet that it is on or near the bottom. Engage your reel, place your rod in your rod holder and slowly take up the slack line. Watch your rod tip for (needs description of bite).
FISH ON! FISH ON! When you get a good bite slowly remove your rod from the holder and take up any slack. When you feel a bite, pull back sharply to set the hook. You don't want to try and rip his lips off, just pierce the lip with the hook. Play the fish to hand. Only reel when the fish is not taking line, this will help avoid line twist. To land the fish carefully grab just behind the head with a wet hand, avoiding the pectoral and dorsal spines. Only use gloves if you are going to keep the fish. A gloved hand will remove the protective slime coat from the fish leaving it more susceptible to illness or death. Remove the hook as quickly as possible. If hooked to deeply, cut the line as close to the hook as possible. The hook will rust out. After you release your fish or have it on a stringer in the water, bait up and do it again!
More Bullhead fishing tips
From Rick Eades, NGPC urban fisheries specialist
Reprinted with permission from NEBRASKAland Magazine, Vol. 79, No. 1
Bullheads have a lot of things going against them. They're ugly, slippery and spiny, and, when caught, they always seem to swallow the hook. But, in many lakes they provide fun for youngsters who are more interested in catching a lot of fish than reeling in a trophy. If you want to introduce a child to fishing, a bullhead pond is a good place to start.
Bullheads are active at night, but, in muddy lakes and ponds, they are also can be caught during the day.They are bottom feeders and stir the mud as they look for food with taste sensors on their skin. A bullhead is like a tongue with fins, constantly tasting its surroundings in search of food.
Here are some tips for catching bullheads
* Natural baits work best. A piece of nightcrawler, fished on the bottom, is the most popular bait. Small minnows, chicken liver and corn will work.
* A spin-cast (closed-face reel) rod-and-reel combination with 100 yards of 8-pound-test line, split shot, a few No. 10 hooks, and pliers are the essential equipment for bullhead fishing.
* Bullheads are found in pools and backwaters of rivers, in streams and in ponds, lakes, and reservoirs. Larger bullheads can be caught in many Sandhills lakes and some sandpit lakes. Bullheads like cover and often are found in dense vegetation.
* Shallow park and private ponds hold many small bullheads.
* Most bullheads are caught from April through November; May and June the best months.
* Nebraska has black and yellow bullheads. Black bullheads are more common.
* Unless otherwise posted, there's no limit on the number bullheads an angler can keep.
III.D. Getting Started on Crappie
Rod/Reel: Light to medium spincast or spinning outfit
Line: Two- to four-pound-test line is sufficient, but six- or eight-pound-test line will work fine. (A two-pound crappie is a Master Angler trophy in Nebraska.)
Hook / weight / swivel / bobber (the "terminal rig"): Probably the most common crappie fishing rig is a #6 or #8 conventional hook suspended beneath a relatively small bobber. One or two split-shot placed 6-12 inches above the hook will make casting easier and will help hold the bait at the desired depth.
Best baits: The most commonly used bait for crappie are small to medium-sized minnows, typically hooked through the skin just in front of the top (dorsal) fin, although some fishermen prefer to hook the minnow through the lips or even upside-down behind the anal fin. However you choose to hook the minnow, hook it shallowly through the skin so that the minnow stays alive and active. Some anglers prefer small (1/16th-1/32nd oz.) lead-head jigs with a minnow as bait, suspended beneath a bobber.
Artificial alternatives: An alternative to live bait is to suspend a marabou or soft plastic tube jig (1/8th oz. to 1/32nd oz.) beneath a bobber. This technique works best if there is enough rippling wave action to move the bobber (and jig hanging beneath it) up and down in a lifelike motion. Popular colors for crappie jigs are white, silver, and chartreuse; some anglers insist their crappie jigs also include a bit of red. Small in-line spinner baits and Beetle spins can be very effective, especially as a method to search different areas of a lake in the summer when crappie are more dispersed.
Technique: Crappie often tend to "feed up," meaning they like to rise from beneath their prey to attack. They also tend to suspend at some mid-level in the water column rather than cruising the bottom or surface, yet you may occasionally see them breaking the surface as they chase schools of minnows. You can take advantage of these behaviors by suspending your minnow or jig one- to two-feet beneath the surface as you begin crappie fishing, then, adjust the bait downward until you find the level they prefer at that time. (The depth you find them tomorrow may be different than the depth where you found them today.) Although the big schools disperse with warmer summer temperatures, crappie still tend to congregate. When you catch one, keep trying the same area because the chances are excellent that you'll find more nearby.
Time of Day: Although crappie can be caught at any time of day during the spring spawning season, they are most active around dawn and dusk when the weather gets hot.
Seasonality: Crappie tend to congregate in large schools during the spring spawning season when water temperatures rise to 60-65 degrees, which usually occurs across much of Nebraska around mid-May. These schools often are within easy casting distance of shore anglers, and many times are associated with the tops of trees that have fallen into the water or with other underwater cover that provides protection from bigger fish. Summer crappie fishing from shore is more "hit-or-miss" as the schools disperse - look for underwater cover that extends into deeper water - but bank fishing for crappie picks up again in the fall as they move back into shallower water.
I have had great success using a floating light and a couple of lanterns to draw bait fish in at night. Fish near timber, and the clearer the water the better. This method will also bring in white bass and walleye.
Hot weather Crappie tips from NGPC's Tom Keith - When the weather is very hot, crappie tend to school in deeper water where there is shade, such as under docks, in stump fields, weedbeds and brushpiles. Look in sheltered bays, shallow coves, and along weedlines adjacent to deeper water, rocky reefs, sandbars with abrupt drop-offs or submerged creek channels that provide food and cover. Minnows are the traditional crappie live bait, but they can also be taken on worms, nightcrawlers and leeches. If you prefer to use artificial lures, try beetlespins, small Rapalas, straight-line spinners such as the Mepps or Rooster Tail, Road Runners or white, yellow, chartreuse, or red and yellow marabou crappie jigs. The jigs can be productive fished bare or tipped with a minnow. Crappie also provide excellent night fishing and many people use a lantern or floating, battery-powered automobile headlight to attract fish. The light attracts nocturnal insects and fish congregate to feed on those that fall into the water.
III.E. Getting Started on Largemouth Bass
GOOD MORNING, FUTURE BASS ANGLERS!
"Good Morning, Uncle Harold".
Today, we're going to talk about how to catch a Largemouth Bass while fishing from the shore of our local pond.
"Cool!" "Awsome!" "NO Way!"
To start with, we only need a few things. Of course, a fishing pole and a reel. And something to catch that fish with. We call that a "fishing lure". There are MILLIONS of different "fishing lures", but we are going to be using the most famous, best bass catching fishing lure ever invented!
The "Mister Twister". I like the black ones.
We have three parts to our "lure". First, the jighead, the curley tail, and the "spinner". If there are lots of weeds, we will connect our jig to the spinner- which will help us reel throught the weeds with a lesser chance of getting "caught" in them!
We can greatly improve our chances of catching that bass if we practice "fancasting". Because the largemouth bass are found around weeds, trees, rocks and other "structure", casting straight out into the open water will be less successful than fishing close to the shore, and "fanning out" at angles to the shore:
If we don't have success in our first "spot", move to the next closest opening, and "fan cast" from there.
You won't make it all the way around that local pond without catching at least ONE largemouth bass!
Unless, of course, there are NO largemouth bass in the local pond!
Hmmmm.. think maybe I should have thought of that in the beginning?
Member shb suggests this website for beginning bass anglers:
Member shorty has this tip for removing hooks from deep hoooked Largemouth Bass.
No real fish were harmed for these photos. (One will have to pretend that this sock and film canister are the throat of a deep hooked LMB.) This method works extremely well with LMB where you have room to maneuver your index finger and thumb inside the mouth. This method is not recommended for "toothy critters" like musky.
1. Slide your index finger past the crusher teeth and to the inside bend of the hook, align your fingernail along the barb.
2. Push in slightly and away from the side of the throat that the hook is lodged in using your index finger. After pushing in slightly start to use your thumb to turn the hook eyelet or "tie" to turn the hook upside down along side the gills. Pushing inward slightly at first backs the hook out of where it intitially went in, use your fingernail to prevent the barb from doing more damage as you continue to turn the hook.
3. Continue to rotate the hook and push to the side.
4. Once rotated far enough the hook should pop right out with very little damage to the throat. Notice the fingernail covering the barb of the hook.
This might not work for small fish but it sure does work well on a LMB that has swallowed a texas rigged rubber worm deeply and takes roughly the same amount of time to remove the hook as any other place in the mouth. On the bright side you do not need to use needle nose pliers to go through the gills from the outside and this method is extremely quick.
III.F. Getting Started on "Winter" Rainbow Trout
In addition to year-round fishing for rainbow trout at several cold-water streams around the state, NGPC stocks "catchable size" (10-inch average) rainbows in many public ponds and lakes around the state each fall. These stockings provide fishing opportunities through the winter and spring. Unlike many states, Nebraska has no special "trout stamp" requirement; you can catch a limit of trout with a standard fishing license. The only exception is the "trout lake" at Two Rivers State Recreation Area where a trout tag ($4 for four trout) is required in addition to the fishing license.
Rod/Reel: An Ultra light rod and ultra light to small spinning reel is preferred. I prefer a little more expensive gear (St. Croix Ultra light rod $60 to $80 and Pflueger 6725 spinning reel $60) but any will work. The Shakespeare Ugly Sticks are a good choice for amateurs as they can take a beating and keep on working. The other benefit of this rig is that it can be used for any small- to medium-sized fishing (crappie, bluegill, trout, and perch for example).
Line: There are plenty of good monofilaments out there. Choose something in the 4 to 6 lb range if using monofilament. My preference is a braided line however. I have tried numerous lines, and have landed on the Power Pro braided line. Good line. The fact it is braided means you will feel the bite easily as this line does not have any stretch.
Terminal rig (Hook / weight / swivel / bobber): For Baits: I like a number 8 hook. Use a 12" to 18" leader tied with a swivel between your leader and your main line. Place a couple of small split shot weights approximately 2' above the hook.
Knots: There are many good knots to use. Some favorites are the Palomar Knot (I like this one when tying bare hooks), the Trilene knot (my go to knot for tying main line and leaders to swivels. I also use this knot to tie the leader to the spinner and other lures) and the Uni-knot (a good general all around knot that can be used for any of the above). Here is a great site to find out more about knots:
Fishing Knots Tying How To Tie A Knot Knotting
Best baits: Anything from corn to crawlers to Berkley Power Bait. For Power Bait I prefer the power eggs. These are a silicon composite and can be re-used. They are also less messy to work with. Pink and chartreuse colors work well.
Artificial alternatives: I have had great success with 1/8 ounce spinners. Rooster tails work very well. I like white bodies with light grey speckles and white dressing. My personal preference is Panther Martins. Several makes are a stable in my pack. I like the holographic fire tiger flies (PMHR-FTOB and PMHF_FTOR), and the brown trout dressed (PMBRT-D) spinners. I have found these at Scheels but selection is limited. You can have them order some in or visit the Panther martin web site at:
Technique: With baits, cast and wait. If using power bait, it will float, so your split shot will sit on the bottom, and the bait will float to the distance between the split shot and hook.
Spinners: After casting use a slow retrieve (usually only fast enough to get the spinner to spin). Vary your retrieve speed if nothing is biting by gradually increasing the rate of retrieve.
Time of Day: I have had success at just about any time of day.
Seasonality: These are generally stocked around the second week of October. They will bite from this time until about mid May (depending on the water temperature).
Location/Habitat: NGPC puts out a news release each fall announcing the trout stockings across the state. In Omaha, Standing Bear is a good place to catch trout. If fishing from shore at Standing Bear, I have had luck all around the lake. I generally like to fish with the wind at my back when possible. That generally determines where I will fish at.
Can of whole kernal corn, small slip sinkers (I prefer a small bullet weight), small hook. (fish4bass suggests using "just a few" kernals of corn on the hook.)
I have had great luck at Standing Bear with Bass Pro Lazer Eye spinners - particularly gold. I usually cast along the shoreline, much like fishing for bass, using an ultralite rig. Spinners seem to work best when the sun is out.
Trout will feed on the top, on the bottom, or anywhere in the middle. If it resembles food, they will try it. Since they are hatchery trout, if it looks like maybe it might even be a little edible, they will try it.
1 kernal of corn should suffice with the following:
Small hooks (size 8 ok...size 10 even better).
Light line (6 ok, 4 even better).
small slip bobber
just enough sinker weight to keep your bobber riding high (1 or 2 small split shot)
I have always had good luck with night crawlers on the bottom. The main trick with them, as stated before, is using a very small hook.
The past couple years when they stocked trout at Holmes Lake all I ever used was a small Mepps inline spinner or roostertail. I used the #1 size but I think #0 or #00 would work best. After a day or two the trout seem to go deep and I can't seem to catch any on spinners so I bring out the nightcrawlers, just simply tie on a small hook and clip on a couple small split shots about 15 inches above the hook. I do not use bobbers for them because like I said before I think the trout find deeper water once they enter the lake therefor I like to fish on the bottom.
III.G. Getting Started on Walleye (also Sauger & "Saugeye")
huskerbowhunter got to hold the walleye for this picture, but his 12-year-old sister was the one who caught it.
The following information was provided by Daryl Bauer, NGPC)
Rod/Reel: A medium action spinning rod.
Line: 8-pound test monofilament line.
Hook / weight / swivel / bobber (the "terminal rig"): slip sinkers and a variety of hooks.
Best baits: nightcrawlers, minnows and leeches.
Artificial alternatives: a variety of jigs from 1/16 to 1/4 ounce, Twister tails, Fuzz-E-Grubs, marabou, bucktail; maybe a couple of crankbaits, Shad Raps, Husky Jerks, Rat-L-Trap.
Technique: If you want to kick it up, a good pair of waders would be worth its weight in walleyes.
Time of Day & Seasonality: (see Tomich's advice below)
First of all I would find out the main forage for the lake. Lakes such as Big Mac, Elwood and Merritt all have alewives which can make shore fishing easier past the spawn. When the alewives spawn in late June, the walleyes follow them up to the dam and rocky points. They can be caught using spinner baits, usually white or chartruese with large willow blades slow rolling them following the contour. Watch for the alewives on every cast; if you don't see them following your bait, you either are too late or in the wrong area. This bite usually dies off as the sun hits that part of the lake early in the morning.
Most lakes in Nebraska have a shad-based forage. Therefore, I prefer baits such as Rapala shad raps or Berkley flicker shads, casting the same areas as mentioned before changing my retrieve on every cast to find the action they want. Shallow flats can also be a good bet in low light hours. Daytime fishing for walleyes can become very tough during summer months as the fish tend to find deeper, cooler water during the heat of the day.
Slip bobbers on weed edges can also be a good bet if you can find an area with deeper water nearby. I prefer a 1/16 oz. jig tipped with a jumbo leech, or the new Gulp Alive can also do the trick.
Jigs tipped with a twister tail or other plastics, either snap jigged or a very slow retrieve, on rocky or wind blown points early or late in the day can also be a very effective way to catch good numbers of walleye from the shore on just about any lake.
Obviously the spawn in mid April to early May on the dam is probably your best chance to catch a trophy walleye from shore. However, make sure the fish are caught in the mouth and not snagged. Remember, snagged fish must be released immediately unharmed. Most people like to cast floating Rapalas or other stick bait parallel to the shore during the spawn; I prefer a very small jig tipped with gulp or other plastics to make the jig more buoyant to slow the fall of the bait.
Hope this helps.
III.H. Getting Started on Carp
by Rick Eades, NGPC urban fisheries specialist
Reprinted with permission from NEBRASKAland Magazine, Vol. 79, No. 1
...Carp have been called the most underutilized fish in America. In recent years, as catch-and-release fishing has grown in popularity, more anglers have begun fishing for carp. Here are a few basics for novice carp anglers.
* Look for carp in shallow weedy bays in lakes and quiet pools and backwaters in rivers.
* During summer, carp can often be located by seeing them feeding on the surface.
* Carp fishing is best in warmer weather.
* Carp feed on the bottom by taste and feel, much like catfish, so naturally scented baits are best. Canned corn is a simple, economical bait that works great. Bread or dough balls work but can be tricky to cast and keep on the hook. Chumming - baiting an area with corn - is very productive.
* An open face-spinning reel with 200 yards of 10- to 12-pound test line works in most situations. In clear water, lighter line will be more effective. Hooks should be small (No. 8 or 10) but strong. Carp are very sensitive to resistance and will quickly drop a bait if they feel a weight. Use split shot or a slip sinker that will allow the line to move freely.
* Carp tend to travel in schools, so if you catch one, you'll likely catch a few more.
* Unless otherwise posted, there's no limit on carp.
Hot weather Carp tips from NGPC's Tom Keith - One species that I've never had any trouble taking regardless of how hot the weather gets is the carp. Some of the best summertime carp baits are a nightcrawler, shad gizzard, a few kernels of corn, a red wiggler, green worms or doughballs. Look for carp in grassy areas and shallow water near the shoreline. You can use a bobber to help you detect strikes, or you can put a weight a foot or so up the line from the bait and fish on or near the bottom. After you cast, push a Y-shaped stick into the mud along the bank with the fork in the stick just a few inches above the water. Place your rod in the fork a few inches back from the tip and lay the rod down at a sharp angle to the water. Keeping the rod and the line very low will help to keep the line from being blown by the wind. Tighten the line and wait for the tip to tell you when a fish takes the bait. The real fun starts when you hook a carp because they put up a strong fight all the way to shore.
III.I. Getting Started on Pike & Muskie
Northern pike and muskie, despite their limited distribution across Nebraska, are a popular quarry for many fisherman wherever good numbers of these toothy and mean critters occur.
Good numbers of pike can be found in Nebraska at the Valentine Refuge lakes and in some of the state's larger reservoirs, especially those in the sandhills. Muskies, considered by some the greatest sport fish in North America -- are found in a few of Nebraska's public waters where they have been stocked. Although limited in number, these few lakes give Nebraska anglers a chance to tangle with what some argue is the greatest sport fish in North America. Check the Nebraska Game and Parks website and this website and forum for recommendations on where to start your quest for pike or muskie.
Pike and muskie can grow to well over 40 inches (the minimum requirement for a Master Angler certificate), but most run about half that size or a bit bigger.
Pike usually are willing summertime biters where you can find them. Their speed, viciousness toward baits, and savage attacks of lures, as well as being great fighters, make them popular summer targets of many fisherman. Nebraska is at the southern edge of their natural range, so many Nebraska anglers enjoy summer pike fishing trips to Minnesota lakes where they are more prolific. Despite their reputation of being very bony, pike make excellent table fare, and many lakes that have pike could stand have a basketful of smaller, eater-sized pike taken out every now and again.
Pike need large, relatively shallow bays with lots of weeds and deeper water nearby. Right after ice out, you can find hungry pike tight against the shoreline before the weeds come up. Once the lake gets weedy later in the summer, if you can find a nice big bay in once of our western reservoirs or Merritt, and you can move out in a boat to where you can still just see the tops of scattered weeds sticking up from the bottom where the botttom is dropping off off to deeper water, you are in prime pike country. Make long casts with a big spinner or spoon and retrieve it in and around those clumps of weeds and you'll be hooked up with one of these voracious water wolves before you know it!
Rod/Reel: A good 6'-7' medium to medium-heavy action spinning rod, coupled with a medium sized spnning reel with a good drag, is perfect for the beginning anglers tangling with pike and muskie of 3-6 lbs., which is what you are going to run into in Nebraska most of the time.
(You'll be casting a lot when fishing for pike. See my tip on preventing line twist and tangles in the "Tackle section of the Beginner's Corner.)
Line: 10-12 lb. test monofilament or 40 lb. test braided line. I like to fish braided line for pike because fishing for pike means fishing in weeds, and the braided line is much better at cutting through the vegetation and letting you pull loose from frequent hangups on the weeds. Plus, braid is thin and enables you to make long casts to get your spinner in front of pike that may be spooked by the approach of the boat.
Hook / weight / swivel / bobber (the "terminal rig"): Pike and muskie have teeth!! -- lots of sharp teeth made for catching and eating fish nearly half their own size -- so a wire leader is needed so they won't be able to bite through your line. I like the titanium leaders with good swivels in about 6"-9" length and at least 30 lb. test for pike and muskie fishing. When buying steel leaders, don't buy the cheapest ones on the shelf at the tackle shop. Good quality leaders cost just a couple bucks for a half dozen or so, and they pay off big time when that rare 10- or 15-lb. pike or muskie attacks.
Bait: Although these fish are predators, and many are caught each year using live prey fish as bait, most pike and muskie anglers prefer artificial lures.
Artificial alternatives: Hands down, for pike and muskie the best lure is also the easiest to use; it's the Mepps bucktail-type spinner in size 4 or size 5. The Black Fury pattern (yellow and white) is very popular. This spinner comes in a variety of traditional blade and dressing colors as well as a number of fluorescent green, pink and red hues. (Some days pike just cannot leave those bright colors alone, while ignoring regular colors.) Blades in silver, copper, or brass with white, black, or red bucktail or natural or dyed squirrel tail dressings are a good place to start.
Large spoons in red and white, hammered or plain copper or brass or even yellow and white and other colors can be great pike baits at times. Stick to heavier, quality brand spoons such as Daredevles because they cast better and sink down around the weeds better as you retrieve. Cheaper, lighter spoons often ride up over the weeds too high as you retrieve.
Here is a nice selection of good pike baits for someone just starting out.
Try large jigs with plastic or hair bodies or big crankbaits such as Rapala minnow lures or other large crankbaits. Big spinnerbaits can be productive at times, especially those in loud, fluorescent colors.
Technique: Whether you're quietly drifting in a boat along submerged weed edges, walking the shoreline, wading, or using a float tube, the basic technique is similar: Cast parallel to the weed edge and allow the lure to sink a bit, even clear to the bottom before you begin your retrieve. Also probe deeper weed beds, which are usually sparser, with long casts and work the lure around, over and through these areas as best you can, tryng to run the bait right up past the weeds without snagging them. Pike hide where they can jump out and nab passing prey.
Vary the retrieve speed. Just enough speed to get a good throb out of the spinner blade or sexy wobble out of spoon usually is all that's needed to raise the ire of any nearby pike, however there are days when they prefer either a slower bait or one that's burning along just over the weed tops.
Time of Day: Early and late are good as fish move out into shallower and more open areas to ambush smaller fish. Overcast and slightly rainy days can be very good, but pike usually are willing under all but the very brightest sunlight, which can turn them off in some of the clearer waters where they live in. (Clear water usually isn't a problem in the relatively murky depths of most Nebraska lakes.
Seasonality: From ice-out through freeze over, any time is good for pike and muskies. Pike can be caught through the winter ice on large live bait or vertical jigging spoons.
III.J. Getting Started on Smallmouth Bass
(Portions reprinted with permission from NEBRASKAland, Vol. 79, No. 1)
A giant "smallie."
Type of Water: I-80 lakes, Merritt Reservoir, Missouri River, Lake McConaughy, Tri-County canal.
Habitat: Rocky areas preferred; also flooded trees, brush piles and weedbeds.
Rod/Reel: (From Hooligan) Spinning rod/reel of medium light action. (from Harold) Spinning or baitcasting rod/reel, 6.5' (or longer) Med Light action rod.
Line: (From Hooligan) 6 lb mono. (from Harold) 6-8 lb. "thin" mono.
Terminal Rig (hook, weight, swivel, bobber): (From Hooligan)Different rigs for different baits. A simple size-4 hook with a couple splitshot and a night crawler threaded on can be the best rig to use for finiky smallies. A slip float with a 3" minnow or leech 18+ inches down is a great rig. Those would be "go-to" baits for those starting out.
Temperature: Active = 60-73 degrees; peak feeding = 68 degrees; spawning = 61-65 degrees.
Food Preference: Crayfish, fish, insects
Best baits: (From Hooligan) Typical, easily found live baits such as night crawlers, minnows in the 3" range, and leeches will all work for smallmouth.
Crayfish, worms and minnows best baits.
Artificial alternatives: (From Hooligan) Small crankbaits and spinnerbaits are very good options, as are small to medium sized platics. The northland slurpies line has been a phenomenal producer for me on WI rivers over the past several years. On Pueblo Reservoir, I fish medium sized Fat Raps, Minnow raps, and husky jerks as well.
(from Harold) I prefer a "popping" topwater across a rocky area next to deep water, especially at sunrise/after sunset. Some prefer plastics, like a tube bait. I also have had success with smaller spinnerbaits (usually BLACK) late evenings, or during the day with (Mepps size 0 or 1) in-line spinners.
Technique: (From Hooligan) Free drifting, or slowly bottom crawling on rivers and lakes.
(from Harold) From the shore, cast beyond the drop at 45 degree angles, steady pop/retrieve back to the shore. With a boat, cast to the shoreline, steady pop/retrieve across the rocky structure, continuing well beyond the drop.
Time of Day: (From Hooligan) It really shouldn't matter; smallies are typically aggressive and will eat at any opportunity.
(from Harold) Early AM, After sundown, all night!
Dawn, dusk often best, but can be active anytime.
Seasonality: (From Hooligan & Harold) Spring through fall ice-up.
Merrit can be a lot of fun, as can some of the I-80 lakes. There are other rivers and lakes within driving distance that are GREAT fisheries. I fish smallmouth in WI more than any other place. It is much akin to fishing for stream trout, and in some situations is the same as fishing stream trout. Learning to read water is very important, as is relocating constantly. Smallmouth are not a fish that you sit and wait, it is active fishing. You are on the move if you want to catch them, plain and simple.
The NGPC has released SMB in a few of the Interstate Lakes; I believe some lack the structure necessary for consistent reproduction. The Missouri River offers some EXCELLENT SMB opportunities.
III.K. Getting Started on White Bass
(Portions reprinted with permission from NEBRASKAland, Vol. 79, No. 1)
A nice size white bass from Harlan County
Type of Water: Large reservoirs, rivers, tri-county canal system.
Habitat: Open water current areas, especially in spring.
Temperature: Peak feeding = 65 degrees; active = 55-80 degrees; spawning = 58-70 degrees.
Food preference: Insects and fish, especially shad.
Rod/Reel: Medium to light-action.
Line: (from fish-n-son) 6-8 lb. line.
Best baits: (from Daryl Bauer) On a tough day, live minnows will still get some fish.
Artificial alternatives: (from fish-n-son) The most simple and effective method is using 6lb or 8lb test line with two ¼-ounce white dollflies tied about12" apart. I have caught two at a time more than once this way. If the water is flowing, cast upstream and reel at a moderate pace. I like to reel slow enough so that I am reeling in from downstream by the time my lure is all the way in. If you are snagging and breaking off your line, reel a little faster. Chances are, you will snag and break your line a few times, so buy a few dollflies. If you are having trouble with using two dollflies, you can use just one until you are comfortable with adding another.
(from Daryl Bauer) For white bass feeding on the surface: KastMaster spoons, also topwaters like Pop-R's, Chug-Bugs and small Zara Spooks.
Technique: (from fish-n-son) Fishing from shore, the best advice I can give would be to fish moving water such as an inlet, outlet, below a powerhouse, etc. Even if the water is not running, the fish tend to hang around those areas. The biggest white bass I ever caught was close to three pounds below a powerhouse with the water not running. Although it was in the evening, I have never noticed time of day to be better than another. The most fish I have ever caught was at Johnson Lake's inlet with the water flowing and it was early in the afternoon in the early summer. A word of caution, sometimes you might snag a carp fishing this way so you will want to make sure your drag is set well. There is nothing quite like a 10-pound carp hooked in the tail in fast flowing water to get the adrenalin flowing. I believe there was also a previous state-record stripped bass caught using this same technique.
Time of Day: Daylight hours best during spring; night during summer.
Night-time technique: (from Daryl Bauer) Lantern fishing during the summer for white bass is usually done from a boat. White bass are open-water predators that roam open-water preying on open-water baitfish (i.e. gizzard shad). During the summer they are almost always in the main body of our reservoirs, and that is why most of the lantern fishing occurs from boats -- those fish just are not back in the bays around docks during the summer. However, if there is an area where deep, open water is adjacent to a shoreline, for example the face of a dam or the mouth of a creek arm, then maybe some lantern fishing from shore would be productive.
Seasonality: (from fish-n-son) Late March to early May seems to be the best months for this method, but I have caught them all through the summer this way.
(from Daryl Bauer) Spring can be very good. White bass will run up streams, rivers and canals if water is available (e.g. the Republican River above Harlan County Reservoir) and the fishing below "barriers" or areas that tend to concentrate those white bass can be fantastic. A variety of jigs, jig-spinners, small spinners, spoons, and small crankbaits will work for those spring white bass.
One of the best things about white bass in our reservoirs is that the "dog days" of summer can be one of the best times to catch them. At that time of year the white bass will be chasing young-of-the-year shad in open water of our reservoirs.
Early and late in the day you can see schools of white bass push schools of shad to the surface. Watch for the gulls to show up and indicate where those feeding frenzies are occurring. Pull into those areas carefully, do not run through the school with your outboard, stay a long cast away and throw topwaters like Pop-R's, Chug-Bugs and small Zara Spooks into the surface feeding frenzy. KastMaster spoons can be cast a mile and will also catch those white bass.
Once the surface feeding frenzy dies down, look for the white bass schools in the immediate area, likely in deeper water near channels, drop-offs, points or humps. Vertical jigging with Bomber Slab spoons, Fergie Specials, tail-spinners or Sonics will catch those white bass once they drop deeper. Many anglers will fish a slab spoon on the end of their line and then use a dropper to attach a jig a foot or two above the slab spoon; it is possible to catch white bass two at a time when you get into a hot school doing that.
Shore anglers should not feel left out of the summer white bass schooling activity. They should concentrate their efforts early and late in the day along windswept shorelines and points. On a good day the white bass schools will push shad shallow enough, close enough to shore, that a wading angler can also cash-in on the feeding frenzies.
III.L. Getting Started on Yellow Perch
(Portions reprinted with permission from NEBRASKAland, Vol. 79, No. 1)
Yellow perch may be Nebraska's tastiest fish. Excellent eating!
Type of water: Sandhills lakes, Merritt Reservoir, cool-water lakes in northern Nebraska
Habitat: Shallow and deep water flats
Temperature: Peak feeding = 68 degrees; active = 58-73 degrees; spawning = 44-54 degrees.
Food preference: Fish, insects, worms
(from Daryl Bauer) Yellow perch will feed on a variety of aquatic insects, zooplankton, small fish and other "critters."
Time of Day: Daylight hours
Bait: Earthworms, waxworms, minnows
(from Daryl Bauer) A variety of live bait rigs fished with crawlers, small leeches and small minnows will work. Crayfish tails on a jig are a great bait to catch yellow perch.
Artificial alternatives: Jigs
(from Daryl Bauer) A variety of small jigs, crankbaits, spinners and spoons ...will catch lots of yellow perch.
Tackle: Medium to light-action rod/reel
(from Daryl Bauer) Light spinning and spin-casting tackle
Member suggestions/tips: (from Mr. Cold) While suggesting January ice fishing at the Valentine Refuge lakes with a waxworm/teardrop rig or "flicker/spinner" is the best way to catch perch, "we've also had luck in the spring/summer using nightcrawlers, although using a 1/2 crawler on a walleye spinner rig probably works better since you tend to lose the tail a lot if you use a full crawler with perch around."
(from Daryl Bauer) For yellow perch from open water the best time of year probably is early spring. The perch will move into shallow water to spawn in flooded vegetation or remnants of last year's aquatic vegetation. If you can find a spot that funnels the perch into an area, for example a necked-down area at the mouth of a shallow bay, you might intercept lots of perch moving back and forth.
After the spawn, yellow perch will disperse from their shallow spawning areas. Perch like flats and will roam both shallow weedy flats and deep water flats. As weed growth develops they are most likely to roam weedy flats and small yellow perch may stay "in the weeds" the rest of the summer and into fall. Big perch may be more likely to venture into deeper water and roam deep water flats. Even though those fish are roaming flats, structural elements like channels, points, humps and underwater islands may concentrate roaming fish making them easier to find and catch.
Yellow perch generally are not hard to catch. If they are in the area they will often follow and nip at baits and lures intended for much larger fish. If that is the case some down-sizing should put those fish on the end of the line.
III.M. Getting Started on Wipers
(Portions reprinted with permission from NEBRASKAland, Vol. 79, No. 1)
Wipers are famous for "screaming reel" runs when hooked.
Habitat: Open water: Republican and Platte River reservoirs; Branched Oak Reservoir; large reservoirs.
Temperature: Active 64-72 degrees
Food Preference: Fish, especially shad and alewife
Rod/Reel: (darkarcher) Medium-size spinning reel with medium action rod.
(Daryl Bauer) Most of the time I have a spinning rod in my hand, 6 1/2-foot, graphite with good backbone, a good quality spinning reel with a large diameter spool (for making long casts and handling long, burning runs from big wipers). I like heavier line than many guys use on spinning outfits because the wipers can be large, they are not line-shy, and you need some equipment that can handle the wipers and land them in a reasonable amount of time without playing them to exhaustion. Occasionally I will use a medium-action casting rod and reel with SpiderWire Stealth and of course that outfit can handle and land the wipers even better.
Line: (darkarcher) 6-12lb. monofilament; (Daryl Bauer) usually 8-pound test line
Best "baits": (darkarcher) Bucktail jig, "walk the dog" topwaters, shad style crank and jerkbaits, plastic shad imitations such as a fluke.
(Daryl Bauer) I do not obsess over lures and baits. If the wipers show up they will usually be very catchable. A selection of jigs, some spoons (e.g. KastMaster, Hopkins), Rocket Shad spinnerbaits, shallow-running crankbaits, rattle-baits, and some topwaters will be all you need. I can fit more than I need in two small boxes and slip them in my waders.
One of the most important details would be good quality hooks! I scour tackle shops for 1/8 oz. jigs with forged hooks! Most of the jigs sold in most tackle shops work fine for walleyes, but wipers will straighten hooks on those things faster than you can say "Fish On!" (been there, done that!). Jigs made for saltwater fishing are ideal! Make sure the hooks are sharp, too.
Technique: (darkarcher) Imitate a dying or escaping baitfish.
(Daryl Bauer) I spend quite a bit of time pursuing wipers around Nebraska. Much of the time I fish in a pair of waders. Wipers are certainly open-water predator fish, but if you watch the wind conditions and fish prime times (usually mornings and evenings, after dark if the water is clear) you can catch wipers for much of the year without a boat.
Most of the time I will be fishing points, flats, corners, and shorelines with the wind in my face. The conditions where open-water wipers will end up feeding close to shore will be on windward shorelines. And sometimes the harder the wind blows the better. I have fished in "surf" on our largest reservoir, McConaughy, where you could barely stand in the waves, but the fish were there.
Depending on the day and location, jigs, shallow-running crankbaits, Rocket Shads or perhaps spoons will catch fish. Rattle baits (e.g. Rattle Traps, Rattlin' Raps) are great baits for covering water and catching wipers. Jigs tend to do the best in spring. If you can find a school of wipers when the water is calm, the fishing you can have on top-waters is just absolutely unbelievable! I'm sure you know what it's like to get into a school of feeding, 8-pound+ wipers with the water boiling from big fish, and shad jumping out of the water. Toss a Pop-R or Chug Bug in there, give it a few pops and WHOOSH! Set the hook, fight the fish for awhile, the hooks come loose (DARN!) the bait floats to the surface, give it another pop or two and WHOOSH again, another fish on! I have even had fish come unhooked and before the Pop-R could float to the surface another wiper would grab it. A dozen fish or more on consecutive casts is probable as long as the school stays.
The frustration with wiper fishing is they are open-water predators that cover lots of water. The hard part is finding them, catching up with them. Some days you just have to keep covering water, keep trying different spots until you find them. When I am wading sometimes I pick a good spot and excercise a lot of patience waiting for a school to show up.
In 2001, NEBRASKAland magazine's special "Fishing" edition (Vol. 79, No. 1) featured an interview with one of the Forum's most accomplished wiper fisherman, Aquaman. Here are excerpts from that article (the names have been changed to protect the not-so-innocent ):
(Aquaman and his family members) "don chest waders and head for a dam, wind-blown point or other areas where they have found fish. They cast jigs into the teeth of the wind using light spinning tackle and light line.
"Unlike many anglers, (they) prefer wind. It's the first thing they check in the weather forecast, and, when the wind doesn't blow, they're disappointed. "Give us any 15- or 20-mph wind, northwest, south, anything," Aquaman said.
"Many anglers curse the wind because it makes fishing difficult. Whether in a boat or casting from the bank, wind puts slack in their lines, making bites difficult to detect. It's easier for anglers to cast with the wind to their backs, but there probably aren't as many fish around to take the bait. But wind-driven waves also concentrate zooplankton and other microorganisms that baitfish feed on in shallow water. Where there's zooplankton, there are shad, and where there are shad, there are game fish.
"Aquaman said he sometimes uses a lipless crankbait at night or when water conditions indicate a need for a large-profile lure or noise to help attract fish. But most of the time, the family fishes with jigs. A Roadrunner or a hand-tied bucktail jig is about as fancy as they get. "I like to keep it nice, clean and simple," Aquaman said. "It's a lot more satisfying."
"They make their own jigs, using heavy-duty hooks on jigs for wipers, which can straighten most commercially made wire hooks. "Use the lightest jig you can fish in the conditions," Aquaman said. Typically, that's a 1/8- or 1/16-ounce jig, but on windy days they also use a 3/16-ounce jig - a size not available at most stores.
"Their favorite body is a Fuzz-E-Grub. They use the largest size to get a long feather tail, and, if necessary, trim the body to fit their jig...white and pink for wipers...
"Bank erosion has created shallow flats around most lakes. They reach deep water by wading. "If you want your jig to be in 6 feet of water you have to be throwing from 3 feet," a family member said. "You can catch fish from shore, but your entire cast is in productive water when you're wading. From shore, it's only productive for the first quarter of your cast."
"To find fish, the family members vary the speed and depth of their retrieves. Wipers...look for baitfish silhouettes above them. Aquaman believes that aggressive fish are close to the surface, and he fishes there first. He allows little time for a jig to sink before beginning his retrieve. If he doesn't catch a fish, he'll let the jig sink another second or two, gradually increasing the time until he's fishing on the bottom. If he has covered an area casting in a fan-shaped pattern and doesn't catch fish, he moves down the shore until he does.
"Locating fish is easier with two or three people," Aquaman said. "If one gets a fish the others can move in. These are schooling fish."
The family's luck from the bank diminishes when the water temperature reaches about 70 degrees and the fish move to deep water...
Time of Day: (darkarcher) Morning/evening is best
Any time in spring; after sunset in summer; daytime in fall
Seasonality: (darkarcher) Spring, fall, and summer can all produce good fishing. best bets from the shore occur in spring.
(Aquaman) Late May to early June.
(Daryl Bauer) The guys in boats can fish in a similar manner, but of course they can cover more water. Trolling with a variety of crankbaits can be very successful. In late summer and into the early fall, many boat anglers look for schools of feeding gulls and pursue them. Once a feeding frenzy is found by looking for gulls or surface feeding activity, ease the boat into casting range and cast spoons or perhaps top-waters.
In the summer and fall when wipers go deep, boat anglers also have a better chance of going after them. Again deep-water trolling is a successful technique. Another technique that is very productive on Nebraska reservoirs is to capture live baitfish (during the months of July through November shad and alewives can be captured from some Nebraska reservoirs) and then fish the live shad or alewives in deep water where schools of baitfish and predator fish are being located on the depth-finder.