If you’re an avid angler who loves lake fishing, you’re probably always looking for ways to improve your skills and catch more fish. While basic techniques like baitcasting and spinning can be effective, there are advanced techniques that can take your lake fishing to the next level. These techniques require a bit more skill and experience, but they can help you catch bigger and more elusive fish. In this article, we’ll explore some advanced techniques you can use to up your lake fishing game and take your angling to new heights. From vertical jigging to Carolina rigging, we’ll cover a range of techniques you can try on your next fishing trip to improve your success on the water.
What to Pack for a Lake Fishing trip
If you’re heading out for a day of lake fishing, here’s a handy checklist of what to pack:
- Fishing rod, bait, and tackle – including an assortment of lures such as rattling crankbaits, lipless crankbaits, plastic frogs, jigs, soft stick baits, and Texas- or Carolina-rigged plastic worms.
- Fly fishing gear – including 8- to 10-weight outfits, popping bugs, surface lures, and deer hair bugs.
- Boat and life jackets – if you plan to take a boat out on the lake.
- Bait – such as worms, crickets, and minnows for fish like bluegill and crappie.
- Fishing net – for landing your catch.
- Filet knife – for cleaning fish.
- Cooler – for keeping your catch fresh.
- Polarized sunglasses – so you can see the fish below the water.
- Sunscreen – to protect your skin from the sun’s rays.
- Insect repellent – to keep away pesky bugs.
- First Aid kit – in case of any minor accidents.
- Snacks and drinks – to keep your energy up.
Best Time of the Day to go fishing on a Lake
The best time of day to go lake fishing will depend on the type of fish you are targeting, the weather, and the season. In the early spring, bass and panfish can be found concentrated in the cooler, lower water levels. Therefore, the morning and evening bites can last all summer and are a great time to target these fish. On cloudy days, water temperatures remain just cool enough that fish will feed on the surface all day.
For hardcore trophy bass hunters, the pre-and post-spawn are the best times, especially during the full moon when activity is at its peak. In the summer months, the heat of the day is best spent targeting deeper structures. In the winter, fishermen should take advantage of the tailwaters to find active fish. Look for the shallow weeds where larger pike can be found spawning. The best times are early in the morning and late in the evening. Rig up with nymphs, dries, and streamers, and use lighter tippets and leaders to increase your chances of success.
Advanced Techniques of Lake Fishing
1. Using a Fish Finder
Using a fish finder can help lake fishing by allowing anglers to locate fish in deeper areas away from the shoreline. It can also help identify the type of structure and contours in the area, which can help identify where fish may be hiding. Additionally, a fish finder can help distinguish between different types of baitfish and gamefish, giving anglers a better idea of which fish species they may target. Furthermore, an underwater video camera can be used with a fish finder to provide an even deeper understanding of the lake, allowing anglers to identify species and sizes of fish and even observe the fish in their natural environment.
2. Slow trolling
Slow trolling is a fishing technique used in lake fishing. It involves slowly trolling along the edges of deeper water in a boat, searching for walleye. A worm harness rig is typically set up to do this, and the lines are kept at the correct depth using a planer board. This technique is often used with smaller lures that imitate natural forage, such as crayfish, and generate vibrations, such as the Sonic lure by Heddon, which can draw in fish from further away. Slow trolling is an effective technique for late spring and early summer and can be used when fishing in both weedy and open water areas.
3. Vertical jigging
Vertical jigging is a great way to find fish in a lake. It involves dropping a lure, such as a Sonic or a vibrating lure, to the bottom of the lake and then rapidly lifting and dropping the rod tip, allowing the bait to swim in a vertical motion. This is done to penetrate thick cover and draw attention from the fish. By using heavy-action rods and 40- to 85-pound braided line, anglers can ensure that their baits are reaching the bottom and that they have enough strength to land a fish. With an electronic chart with contours, anglers can also use vertical jigging to locate shallow sloping flats, deep holes, and other areas that bass may inhabit. Additionally, vertical jigging can be enhanced using scents, which act as lubricants to allow the bait to ease into the cover.
4. Carolina rigging
Carolina rigging is a widely used technique that is popular among lake fishermen. It is a bottom-bouncing method used to fish weedless baits in deeper water. This technique involves rigging a weight on the line, usually a bell-shaped weight, followed by a bead and a swivel. The rig then continues with a line leader that is 18-36 inches long, and a hook is tied to the end of the leader. Finally, a soft plastic bait is then added to the hook. This ensures the bait is running freely and not getting hung up on the bottom.
Carolina rigging is an effective technique for lake fishing in deeper water. Because the bait is rigged weedless, it can be presented directly to thick cover and structure without fear of getting snagged. The leader allows the bait to move freely, making it attractive to fish lurking in the cover. Additionally, because the weight is placed further up the line, the bait is presented further away from the weight, making it more attractive to the fish.
5. Drop shot fishing
Drop fishing is a technique used to target large-sized fish in lakes, especially those with thick cover and clear water. It involves using a heavy-action rod, 40- to 85-pound braided line, and often a scent to help the bait penetrate the cover. Using the rod, the bait is cast and then allowed to swing back close to the body and then swung forward, using the wrist to roll the rod butt to the inside of the arm to control the bait. As the lure moves past the rod tip, the rod is raised, and the line is fed with the free hand, then lowered as the lure nears the water to touch down precisely on the target. The drag should be tight for increased hookset ratios and then reeled down until the rod is in hookset position before setting the hook should a strike occur.
Drop fishing can be very effective for larger fish, especially during spawning and pre-spawn seasons when anglers can look for submerged logs where big females have been rubbing away the mossy growth. Lipless crankbaits, such as rattling crankbaits, can then be cast into the wind and retrieved in various ways, such as a steady retrieve or a sudden stop to let the lure sink. This versatile technique can work well in various lake environments and be adapted to suit different conditions.
6. Night fishing
Night fishing is a fishing technique that involves fishing during nighttime hours. It can be used for lake fishing to target certain species of fish and take advantage of the low daytime fishing pressure. During the night, the activity of certain species of fish increases, making them more likely to take the bait. Additionally, the lack of sunlight can make it easier to spot fish activity, as they are more likely to be visible in the dark waters. Furthermore, the darkness of night provides cover for anglers, making it more difficult for the fish to detect their presence. This can be especially advantageous in heavily fished bodies of water, where the fish may be warier of human presence. Night fishing can also be done with various gear, from spin-casting to fly-fishing. It is essential to be mindful of safety when fishing at night and to take the necessary precautions. This includes using proper lighting to ensure visibility and proper waterproof clothing and footwear to keep dry. With the right preparations and techniques, anglers can enjoy a successful night fishing experience.
7. Flipping and pitching
Flipping and pitching are techniques lake fishermen use to target bass, crappie, and other fish in thick cover. Flipping is a method of casting bait in a precise and accurate manner, using a heavy-action rod, heavy line, and a heavy sinker. The rod is held horizontally, and the bait is flicked toward the target and allowed to fall into the water. This technique allows for pinpoint accuracy in presentation and is most effective in thick cover between 10 and 25 feet away. Pitching is similar to flipping, but rather than casting the bait horizontally, the rod is held almost vertically with the lure dropped over the target, allowing it to sink into the thick cover. This technique is best used with smaller baits and in cold front conditions. Both flipping and pitching are effective methods of getting lures into the thick cover where bass and other fish in the lake can be found. The use of scent to act as a lubricant can also be employed to help the bait penetrate the thick cover.
8. Crankbait fishing
Crankbait fishing is a type of lure fishing that involves using crankbaits, which are hard-bodied lures shaped like fish and designed to imitate the swimming action of baitfish. They are typically used to target bass, crappie, and other lake fish and can be highly effective when used properly.
Crankbaits can be used in various ways depending on the type of fish being targeted and the lake’s conditions. Generally, the most effective approach for lake fishing is to cast a crankbait and retrieve it at different depths and speeds, allowing the lure to “crank” through the water and attract fish. Different colors and sizes of crankbaits can be used to target different species of fish and different depths. During spawning and pre-spawn season, look for submerged logs where big females have been rubbing away mossy growth and use a rattling crankbait to attract them.
What type of fish can I expect to catch using these techniques?
Using these techniques, you can expect to catch a variety of fish, such as walleye, bass, bluegill, and other baitfish species. You can also use lures to imitate the natural forage of smaller fish and crayfish, which can attract a variety of species. With the use of an underwater video camera, you can also identify what kind of fish and their size before you even cast your line.
What type of lures should I use to maximize my success?
When lake fishing, using the right lure is key to maximizing success. While worm harness rigs can be effective, using lures that imitate the natural forage of smaller fish and crayfish is a great option. Lipless crankbaits, ¼- to ½-ounce rattling crankbaits, plastic frogs, swimming jigs, soft stick baits, and other topwater lures can provoke a topwater bite. Additionally, when fishing in pre-spawn season, look for stained water and various vegetation and target depths of 2 to 5 feet.
What type of rod and reel should I use when fishing in a lake?
When fishing in a lake, deciding what type of rod and reel to use can be daunting for a beginner. A cane pole is a good way to start fishing, as no overhead casting is required. Spincast gear is also an option and is a rod and closed-face reel with a push button for easy casting and reeling. Meanwhile, ultra-light spinning gear will offer improved casting distance and accuracy. A light line such as a 4lb or 6lb monofilament line should be used for small fish. Smaller bobbers, like pencil-style or slip bobbers, will make it easier to set the hook. Lightweight split shot sinkers help create neutral buoyancy and pair nicely with small hooks (sizes 6-10).
What type of kayak should I use when fishing in a lake?
When fishing in a lake, it’s best to use a stable sit-on-top kayak that provides enough space for your fishing gear. Sit-on-top kayaks are easier to get in and out of and provide more storage space for your tackle and other fishing equipment. Look for a kayak with a wide and flat bottom for stability, as well as adjustable footrests and a comfortable seat for long periods of sitting. Additionally, consider a kayak with rod holders and other fishing-specific features to make your fishing experience more enjoyable.