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Rush Hour Bass by Bill Vanderford

Fishing in Heavy Boat Traffic-Photo by Bill Vanderford
Fishing in Heavy Boat Traffic-Photo by Bill Vanderford
Bill Vanderford

A lone angler in a small aluminum fishing boat anchored at the opening to a large marina seemed to almost turn over every time a huge boat gunned its motor towards the open water. But, as soon as they passed and the waves allowed him to cast into the churning wake, he caught a chunky bass!

Fishing any busy lake on weekends during the summer months can be frustrating to even the most seasoned fisherman. Nevertheless, for folks who work all week, a statement from an ancient angler still holds true: “The best time to fish is when you can.”

The key to most success stories is knowledge! One must understand what is happening and how artificial changes to the underwater environment can become an advantage. For instance, boaters and their accompanying wave action combines commotion and expands the line of muddy water being washed out from the shoreline, which partially solves the fisherman’s problem. This newly formed mud line offers the predator fish all the cover needed from which to hide and attack bewildered baitfish that are being helplessly thrown around in the churning water.

Fishermen also equate most human activities as detrimental to fishing successes, so they usually avoid busy boat ramps. The fact is that active boat ramps always hold fish and the busier....the better! These structures include a long expanse of concrete that becomes a natural highway for fish that are going from the deep to shallow water. Each side of the ramp has a 3 to 4 foot dropoff with uneven granite rocks that were placed there to deter erosion, but make a perfect home for crayfish, minnows and other smaller fish. Therefore, any boat ramp becomes the perfect hunting grounds for predator fish seeking fast food.

When boats are being launched, outboard motors are cranked on the ramp, then driven backwards towards deeper water. The churning propeller that causes this movement also mixes all the water near the ramp and rocks. This tremendous suction confuses smaller fish and often pulls crayfish out of the rocks, and provides a scrumptious feast for the waiting predator fish.

Since most of the food around mud lines and boat ramps is small, the intelligent angler will use down-sized lures to fool these hungry fish. Three of the best lures available when fishing these conditions are the1/8th ounce Swirleybird with a plastic trailer, a 1/8th ounce leadhead jig with a 3 inch, chartreuse, curlytail grub as a trailer or a small jerkbait. These light lures resemble wounded or confused baitfish, and are a prime target for hungry predator fish hiding in the stained or turbulent waters.

In these situations, I always make long casts along the break of the mudline, into the wildly mixing waters left by the propeller vortex, or the length of the boat ramp for best results. Because of the long casts required with such tiny lures, my equipment choices are 6-pound test on the smallest Doug Hannon WaveSpin reel. I’ve found that this combination allows a perfect balance for long casts and working these tiny lures.

Use your imagination and common sense, and you can easily find other ways and places on your particular waters to be successful. Always look for any area where the water moves differently, or the boat action causes a major change in the normal environment. Like the fish, you need to look at all of this commotion in a different light, and busy weekends can be a bonus instead of a bummer!

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