Many people feel when the weather is warm, the fishing stops. But that’s not necessarily true. In fact, the three expert anglers I talked to this week say hot weather doesn’t stop fish from biting; you just have to approach them differently.
My three experts are Mike Walters of West Milton for crappies, Keith Wheelock of Beavercreek for bass and Mark Brumbaugh from Darke County for walleyes and saugeyes.
Walters is a champion crappie fisherman many times over on the professional and amateur crappie circuits. Wheelock is the current points leader in the Walmart Bass Fishing League, which he has won twice in the past. Brumbaugh fishes several pro walleye circuits and was once champion of the former Professional Walleye Trail.
Mike Walters on crappies
First tip: If you are fishing shallow water, find as much shade as you can. Areas like docks, docked pontoon boats, low-hanging trees and large stumps will be areas for crappies to hang out.
Second tip: Fish just above the thermocline. (The thermocline is the transition layer between the warmer surface water and the cooler deeper water. The depth can vary in different lakes.)
“In a deeper lake like Caesar Creek, the thermocline can be 22-24 feet deep. So I’d fish at about 18-20 feet. Look for any kind of structure and fish with minnows or jigs tipped with minnows,” Walters said.
Third tip: Fish fast.
“We troll our spider rigs at 1.5-2 miles per hour, using jigs or crankbaits. If we’re using crankbaits, we like short, fat ones. For jigs we use tubes or 2-inch twisters. We often use chartreuse, although we usually stick to using dark colors in low light conditions and light colors on bright days.
Keith Wheelock on bass
First tip: “Watch the weather. Fishing can still be very good when it’s hot, but the best time is when the weather has been stable for a few days. Even if it’s hot and humid, if it’s been that way for a couple of days, it’s a good time to fish.”
Second tip: Fish early in the morning, from first light until 9-10 a.m. Use a topwater bait or maybe a plastic frog.
If you fish later, look for shady spots like low-hanging trees. Plastics, like small creature baits work best.
If you fish toward evening, look for shadows and try a topwater bait. Use smaller lures and walk the dog (a side-to-side retrieval, often stopping and starting).
Fishing at night can be very productive. Fish in areas that have produced fish during the day. Use darker colors, like black for crankbaits or worms that create a silhouette. Also add some rattles to worms.
Third tip: When you cast, do not create a big splash with your lure. Be as quiet as you can. “A bit splash is like an alarm going off. And when you fish around these parts (Ohio waters), there is a lot of fishing pressure, so fish are smart and the big splash is a warning to them.”
Mark Brumbaugh on walleyes and saugeyes
First tip: Walleye fishing and saugeye fishing are different. In hot weather you use a faster presentation than when it is colder. That means trolling 3-3.5 miles per hour and you troll faster for saugeyes. Saugeyes are more aggressive than walleyes.
Each lake is different. What works at Indian Lake might not work at Caesar Creek or C.J. Brown. So you have to learn what works best at the lake you are fishing.
Second tip: If you are fishing in shallow water, try casting a crankbait, a blade bait or a jig with half a craw or nightcrawler or try a twister. Again, use a fast presentation.
Probably the best way when you are fishing from a boat is to pitch your bait toward the bank. If you go to deeper water, use a deeper-diving crankbait, because you want to stay close to the bottom.
Third tip: Fishing is best at dawn and dusk. Look for some kind of structure. “They say 90 percent of the fish are in 10 percent of the water and it’s usually around structure.” This is especially true for saugeyes and walleyes in smaller lakes. It’s different in Lake Erie, where walleyes can be spread out all over.