Here is the answer to where they went! They went deep and fast and scattered because YOU scared them when you ran in at WARP 10 Captain Kirk.
When you see fish busting up the surface, DO NOT run in on them at Warp 10! In other words Don’t be a Captain Kirk running in to do battle with a Klingons! Yes your blood will be pumping your heart going faster than a NASCAR driver toward the finish line and your eyes will be as big as dinner plates! But this is the time to show the patients and wisdom of the Sphinx! Because you have a riddle to answer.
The Riddle is many folds. Which way is the school going? What size bait are they feeding on? Are they even moving or are they sitting in an area ambushing bait schools? Is it a large school or just a few fish?
You need to answer each of these questions to form a plan of attack to optimize the ability to catch them and to keep catching them. Done right and you will be in the thick of a bite I have seen go on for hours. Done wrong and you will be frustrated and at best get one or two fish.
So let’s look at the Riddle of the Sphinx:
1. If you see the fish boiling up don’t just run at them, stop what you are doing and mark where they are by using structure on shore as a point of reference. Watch them for a couple minutes, if they do not move from that point then proceed on over to them. But stop as soon as you are in casting range to the edge of the last boil you saw. The reason is they may well have a ball of bait hemmed up and by casting to the edge of the boils you are the lone bait that got separated from the school. That lone bait just got the attention of everyone in the school and most times gets attacked ferociously and quickly.
2. Using the same wait and watch approach you see the fish moving along the shore boiling up, yet they are moving. This is when you need to mark several areas of reference and draw a line along those points to where the school is going. Get over to that ending point BUT make sure you do not get dead in front of it. The Key will be to be again the outside bait.
3. After you have dissected the directions of the fish and have set-up your ambush point for them something as important as not running like Kirk into them is turn off the dang fish finder! You ever heard one under water? They are loud, turn it on in a garage one time and you can hear the clicking. Silence is Golden. You want to be stealthy.
Im going to say it again DO NOT run your big motor into the school. Shut down well in advance of it. Shut off the fish finder. Your eyes at this point are the fish finder.
Before I touch on Rod, Reel and Lure selections I want to talk a little bit about etiquette and courtesy to other boaters. I know how exciting this time of year can be and how the visual effects of fish turning water into fire can be. Please if you see a boater in on the actions DO NOT go blasting into the bite! DO NOT go throwing your bait into the fish he is working (without asking permission)! DO NOT cut in front of other boaters to get at the fish! When you do hook-up BACK OFF away from the school so your hooked fish doesn’t spook off the school. Show respect to others. Nothing makes me madder than people who come blasting in being rude and putting down the fish I am working on. Simply going in slow and even asking permission will help everyone catch more fish.
So then what Rods to use for this?
I carry many 3 different styles of rods this time of year, Casting, Spinning and Fly-pole.
First is the Spinning and Bait Casting. I Like to have one spooled with 12lb test on an 8ft med/heavy, fast action for long range casting. I can put a 2oz lure 100yrds without much effort. This affords me the ability to maintain a long distance from the school and get a quick chance at them. The second spinner is a 7ft med/ heavy fast action with 10lb test on it and I prefer it to be loaded with ½ oz to 1- ½ oz baits. Finally I keep a 7ft med/lght moderate action rod with 8lb test on it for casting ¼ to 1oz baits. This covers the spectrum of lures and allows for long distance casting. Yes you can land very large fish on light line as well and makes it an absolute thrilling experience.
Reels I suggest getting ones with a minimum of 200 yards of line capacity, this will allow you long casting and still have plenty of line on the reels. They need to have good drag systems and balanced to match the rod you are using. I don’t know how many times I see people putting on a big Ocean reel on a small 6 foot rod with 30lb test line. Match your Rod, Reel and Line it will maximize your ability to cast and fight a fish.
The Fly pole: Now this is just my personal preference but I like a 7wt 9ft rod with a matching reel. I like to have 300yrds of 20lb backing and then my fly-line which I like to have the last 30 ft of it as a sinking line then tie on 12ft of 12lb fluorocarbon to a fly. This set-up allows me long cast and more accurate control of my fly.
I also want to remind people, this is the time of year I see more rods broke than at any other time. Guys you can only cast one rod at a time. Put all the others in the rod locker and keep the boat clean! You may need to rush around the boat fighting the fish or even fire up and go to the next school. It only takes a few seconds to open a rod locker and change out rods. Save yourself some frustration and money and keep the decks clear.
Now for the lures: To save a little space and time I’m going to just link the Lures I Prefer most.
4. http://www.basspro.com/GotCha-Plug-300/400-Series/product/120221144/83031 A word about this lure, I first discovered it in Florida about 8 to 10 yrs ago and they for some reason are just an incredible fish catching lure and they cast a long way.
5. http://www.basspro.com/Heddon-Super-Spook-XT-Hardbaits/product/10230810/230309 I suggest not only this spook but all sizes of spooks.
These round off the top water hard baits I carry. Colors I always like to have Red/White – Rainbow Trout – Chrome/ Black and pure white.
Of all lures though to make certain you have is Buck-tails from ½oz to 3oz. You can run them as they are strait out of the package or put on a grub tail or swim bait. I actually will add or take away the trailer depending on the bait they are chasing to adjust for size and profile. If the fish are super active staying up minutes at a time I put away the Hard-baits and will throw the Buck-tail past the school and let it sink to the bottom and then start retrieving it under the school, many times the biggest fish hang out under the commotion picking up the stunned bait or pieces falling below the action. Also of interest on Beaver is the Walleye always seem to be below the actions so the chance at Large eye’s are very possible! But they only seem to be below the schools that are not moving but more so are ambushing bait as it comes across an area.