Try to forget temperatures were several degrees warmer last Christmas than a week ago on Mother’s Day.
Morel mushroom hunting, prespawn crappie action and sales of hanging flower baskets are usually near peak on Mother’s Day.
Water temperatures were actually pushing 60 degrees on opening weekend of the general fishing season a week before that, falling back to about 51 when Mom awoke to find a dusting of snow on her hanging basket.
But water temperatures have rebounded beyond the 60-degree trigger point over the past few days, setting the stage for phenomenal multi-species fishing action for at least the rest of this month.
Prior to this year, when a surgical mask has become a nearly universal unisex burka in the USA, crappies were almost always on the spawning beds by May 15, followed by largemouth bass about May 18 and bluegills on Memorial Day across southern Wisconsin—at least when Memorial Day falls closer to May 31.
Relying on man-made traditions alone instead of real-time data in the natural world—like moon phase, prevailing winds, cloud cover, barometric pressure and ambient temperature—is never as reliable as conditions in the natural world when seeking success and harmony in that realm.
Virtually every person who is serious about fishing (as defined by owning at least six rod combos costing in excess of $800 and a tackle box with the dimensions of a small steamer trunk) has rigged up every one of their “sticks” with a sure-fire lure at home and changed every single one of their baits within five minutes of getting on the water.
For the next couple of weeks it might be wise to resist this temptation and just have a snap or snap swivel on the end of the line ready to go.
Tying a lure directly to the line is seldom a good plan, with the exception being a “Rapala” or “loop knot” when throwing a stickbait in extremely clear water where fluorocarbon line is a necessity.
A loop knot is conducive to allowing the lure to find a natural balance point resulting in a more natural retrieve. Snaps and snap swivels achieve this by design. I only use a snap swivel when trolling, because the barrel swivel that is the appliance component above the snap component minimizes line twist when dragging a lure behind a boat.
The barrel swivel component is too much hardware when casting or snap jigging a lure, actually minimizing a seductive fishing presentation.
My apologies if your head is swiveling from travels down this terminal tackle rabbit hole. The purpose was to bring you back to tying the knot you really shouldn’t tie when casting a stickbait like the venerable Rapala.
With bass and panfish moving to shallow shorelines to spawn—with predators like muskies and pike in pursuit—a stickbait presentation that enables the lure to twitch seductively near staging fish with little forward progress can be deadly.
This can be easily accomplished by bending the tie-eye of the stickbait at a 45-degree angle, securing the line with an improved clinch or Trilene knot so the stickbait flounders like an injured baitfish instead of tracking true.
Another option is pitching a Ned rig when targeting a small area, especially when this jighead designed for vertical presentation is rigged with a plastic that has a plethora of tentacles like a “helgie.”
Some readers of this column will take the preceding technical jargon in stride, perhaps with a knowing smirk. For the rest of you folks, here is today’s old guide tip: Tie on something with a hook and maybe a little flash and cast in less than five feet of water near the shoreline. You’ll probably catch fish.
But it’s still real tough to catch fish if your line isn’t in the water! Get outside, practice social distancing, put that bandit mask in a pocket and CAST!