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It’s all in the action

It does not matter how pretty your lure is or how expensive it was. What matters is if the fish like it.
Fish will only strike at bait that attracts them. If a lure can not get the attention of a fish, then you will not catch fish. With that being said, what do you think is the most attractive thing for a fish? Not the color, not the price, but the action.
Fish will not strike at something that is dead in the water. If your lure just sits there, fish will not find it interesting and they will not strike at it. The lure has to have a certain type of action to attract fish. What action is that you ask? It has to act like something the fish normally eats.
Large gamefish eat small baitfish. So to catch more fish, your lure has to mimic the action of a baitfish. This can be done in a few ways. One is by pulling your lures along slowly and letting it roll and wriggle back and forth. Another is to buy special tools that will do all the movement for you. Some companies have even invested in making a lure that looks like it swims by segmenting the tail end of the lure into multiple pieces so that when it is pulled these pieces will wave back and forth like a fish tail.
So what is the best lure for catching all types of fish? Well no one knows for sure and lure makers will shove their lures down your throat claiming it is the best. The best lure is the one that gives the most action, no matter what speed you pull it at. The best lure is the lure that wriggles back and forth without rolling over. The best lure is a lure that looks and acts like a fish. Does this perfect lure exist? Is there such a lure out there? A lot of lures have come close but so far, not one can mimic a fish perfectly.
Somewhere out there someone must be working on that perfect lure. A lure that wriggles back and forth and rolls without rolling over completely. A lure you can pull at any speed and it will still act like a fish.

What Your Catch Eats

Specifically what a species of fish eats varies, but all gamefish follow certain habits of feeding and finding food. Most fish learn what to eat by trial and error. Younger fish approach new food cautiously and will reject the food a few times before eating it, while older fish know what to eat.
All gamefish will endure waters outside their comfort zone, whether the water is too cold, too warm or does not have enough dissolved oxygen, just to get to the food it wants. Even though different species prefer different foods, those foods may not be available all the time. Gamefish have to learn to be opportunistic in order to survive and because of this they will change their behaviour and diet many times over a year. If you can not predict why they move, you will not be able to catch them.
Available food
In order to catch fish more often, you have to learn how food availability can affect gamefish behaviour. For example, if bass are busting into schools of shad to eat, you may be able to catch them on topwaters. If they are hunting crayfish on the rocks, you have to use a jig for more successful catches. Difference in food availability explains why one species of gamefish will act differently in one body of water and different in another body of water. Walleye in lakes, where perch are their main source of food, will feed in deeper structures where perch live. Walleye who feed mainly on shad or ciscoes will spend more time on open waters compared to the ones who feed mainly on perch.
Feeding Frenzies
There are some feeding triggers that will cause gamefish to go into a feeding frenzy at different times through the season. Insects hatching may cause certain types of fish to suddenly feed because fish know that a hatch only lasts for a short time and they have to move quickly to get an easier meal. If a storm is approaching, light levels and water pressure drops. This causes fish to go on a feeding spree because it seems later in the day. If it is windy out and the wind is pounding on a shoreline, feeding will increase. Windblown plankton on muddy shorelines will attract baitfish and in turn attract gamefish that can feed in low light conditions.
Different eating behaviour
All fish eat their meals differently. For example, northern pike will grab their quarry crosswise to puncture it with sharp teeth until it stops struggling. It will then swallow its prey headfirst; if it’s too large to be completely swallowed a pike will leave the tail of the prey protruding from its mouth for up to 24 hours. Other gamefish, like bass, will inhale smaller prey, opening their mouths quickly to suck in water and food. Bass can exhale food just as quickly and when they grab larger prey, will turn it so that they can swallow it headfirst.
The food pyramid
Knowing the food pyramid can help you determine which bodies of water will have more fish over other bodies of water. The lowest rung on the aquatic food pyramid is algae. Algae are tiny plants that come in many shapes and sizes. Zooplankton feed on algae, and baitfish feed on zooplankton. In turn, small predators will feed on the baitfish and larger predators will feed on the smaller predators. If there is not enough algae in a body of water, there won’t be enough zooplankton to feed baitfish meaning that larger fish will not be in abundance there.
If a fish has moved because of these factors and you don’t know why they’ve moved, then you will not be able to catch them. Knowing why they move will give you a better chance to have a larger yield when you go out fishing.

Creating New Catch

There would not be fish to catch if fish did not spawn. Some states and provinces have gone so far as to protect spawning fish by closing the fishing season when fish are spawning. Spawning is the greatest influence on fish location and behaviour and takes place usually in the early spring but varies between fish species. Deep water gamefish will usually go to shallow waters to spawn. Once they spawn, they will return to the deep water to recuperate. Spawning is not the same between all species of fish.
Largemouth Bass
These fish spawn when the water warms to the low 60s in the spring. The males will move onto shallow waters to build their nests, normally nesting in a bay or along shore that is covered from the wind. Weeds and wood will generally be around their spawning area. The female will move in and deposit her eggs once the male finishes the nest, then she will leave. When the water reaches the upper 60s, spawning is finished and the male will guard the nest until the fry leave. These males will strike at anything that approaches the nest to protect the fry.
Smallmouth Bass
Like the largemouth, smallmouth will spawn in water in the lower 60s during the spring. Unlike the largemouth, they prefer spawning sites with a sand-gravel or rock bottom next to a boulder or log. The females will deposit their eggs later than the female largemouth. Once the female leaves, the male will guard the fry until they mature enough to leave.
Catfish
Usually spawn in late spring and early summer when the water temperature is in the mid to low 70s. Unlike bass, they spawn in enclosed areas like sunken barrels, hollow logs and other such holes. Sometimes the female helps prepare the nest but like bass, the male guards the nest until the fry leave.
Pike and Muskies
Usually these fish are found in weedy portions of natural lakes and in slower moving weedy rivers. Muskies tend not to thrive in waters with pikes because pike spawn earlier in the season and feed on the smaller muskies. Pike will spawn in the early spring when the water is in the 40s. They spawn in tributary streams, connecting to marshes and shallow weedy bays. Muskies spawn several weeks later when the water gets closer to 50 degrees and will spawn in deeper waters. Both will scatter their eggs in weedy bays or flats and make no move to guard the fry or young.
Walleye and Sauger
Walleyes spawn in the spring time, when the water temperature reaches the upper 40s. Saugers spawn anywhere from a few days to a week later. Both are random spawners, meaning they will deposit there eggs on clean gravelly or rocky bottoms. Once these fish start spawning it becomes very hard to catch them because they are constantly on the move. Fishing action picks up about 10 days after spawning is complete.
These are the major fish species in the Niagara region, fish that you would see most often on your regular fishing trips. Knowing how they spawn will better prepare you for catching them.