I've seen multiple times a pair of anglers launch a bass boat, head for the nearest shore, and methodically begin casting along its length, keeping up the process from shore to shore all day. That'll work sometimes. But the thinkers know that most bass tend to head shoreward in evening hours, forage all night, and begin moving back to their deep water layup spots in the morning. Some might stay longer in shallow water if hunting was poor, but most go home.
So, a better battle plan would be to go ahead and fish the shoreline early and late (or at night), but instead of just blindly casting, concentrate on shores that lie close to deep water, and avoid those at the end of long shallow flats because largemouths particularly, won't travel far for their hunting. A map of the lake will show you such shorelines, and the Ohio Division of Wildlife, for example, has plenty of such maps. Or cast the shorelines and hit drowned or half drowned wood hardest, but as the morning progresses, work the shore for a cast or two, then turn your rod to deep water, and cast another couple of times, repeating the process.
Two anglers that won a small bass tournament on Clearfork Reservoir near Mansfield did just this, and one said “We caught more in the deeper water by late morning than we did casting shorelines.”
One thing that too many anglers do is avoid weed beds, and that's not a smart move. Largemouths love weeds which make good ambush spots for panfish and minnows, and particularly favor lying next to small openings in the foliage, where they wait for prey.
I've fished weed beds a good many times in Ohio, often using my favorite weedless lure, a Johnson Silver Minnow with a white three-inch forked tail porkrind. I can't find it in stores anymore, but you can Google up the name and order some. Many a time I've tossed the lure into weedy cover and brought it back splashing with my rod tip bouncing. When a hole turns up, I drop the rod tip and let the spoon flutter down, then retrieve again. I still remember one time when a four pounder exploded up through the cover three times trying to catch the spoon. On his third try he made it.
You can do much the same with unweighted plastic worms, and have fair luck with spinnerbaits, especially in weedless coridors, and near outside edges. And even dangle live bait in holes here and there with a float above. Don't forget boat docks when you're casting, either, since bass love to hide beneath them, and riprap shorelines hold crayfish and insects that largemouths and smallmouths both love. In short, change tactics as needed and stay close to deep water. I'm betting your catch will increase a lot.
Dick Martin, a free-lance writer from Shelby, is a retired biology teacher who has been writing outdoor columns for more than 30 years. Reach him at [email protected] You also can visit his blog at outdoorswithmartin.com.
HOOKS & BULLETS
• Readers who like Lake Erie walleye fishing will find this summer is the time to do it. According to the Division of Wildlife, excellent walleye fishing is expected at Lake Erie now through October. The 2019 season is anticipated to produce walleye fishing results that could surpass last year's record level of success. In 2018, walleye were harvested at the highest rates recorded in nearly 40 years. There will be lots of them out there.
• Does Ohio still have wild country? Yes, it does, and some of the wildest is in 8,646 acres of tall forest in southern Ohio near the Ohio River. Now Shawnee State Forest will be increased in size by more than 1,200 acres adjacent to the current land. "This is a great development" said Governor Mike DeWine. "Through the Forest Legacy Program, we will expand Shawnee State Forest and protect and conserve important forest land in Ohio"
• Campers and deer hunters might be interested in a new product, Pull Start Fire, that the company claims will ignite wet wood and burn for 30 minutes in rain snow, and high winds. The company also said it is totally food safe, made from organic chemical-free materials, and weighs only 4 ounces. It's sold as a three pack for $17.95 at www.pullstartfire.com.