It seems like each year we learn a little bit more about fishing brand new water. Here are a few things to consider when learning new water across the Plains.
1) When looking at your bar graphs, line graphs, and spreadsheets, make decisions based on some sort of plan for the day. When looking for a lot of bass to catch, don’t expect big fish and vice versa. Also, look at other species to determine how you might do with the species you’re after. For example, we always look at the northern pike numbers in MN lakes to see if we’re going to catch largemouth. We have found that the bigger pike a lake has, the more nice bass we catch. Now this is totally unscientific, mind you, but we feel through past trips on many lakes that this is a correlation. In NE, look not only for a lake’s bass numbers when fishing for that species, but also its bluegill numbers. If the bluegill numbers are balanced, showing all year classes, the bass are quite often on the same plane.
2) Special regulations- Fish catch-and-release lakes before you fish others for big numbers and big fish. Also, check out lakes that have big fish slots – those are also exceptional for nice average-sized fish.
3) New waters- After a newly renovated lake is opened in NE, fish it for numbers. After a couple of years, fish it for less numbers and more size. After a couple more years, fish it for the perfect correlation between nice fish and nice numbers of fish.
4) Water clarity- If you can find it out, fish those waters with better clarity. If at all possible, fish them on cloudy days.
5) Biologists and Bait Shop Owners- I have made so many calls to these groups and have always been impressed with the information I’ve received. There’s some whispering at times that both of these groups withhold information to anglers because they want it for themselves. But I’ve never seen that to be the case, and frankly, it doesn’t make much sense to me. Why would Daryl Bauer not want you to catch fish in NE? The fewer anglers that the state has, the less money that goes back to fisheries. Why would he want that? The same way with shop owners. Why would they only want me to visit their area once, when with good information, I’ll come back and spend money in their establishment year after year. Ask these folks questions. You’ll get good answers.
6) Online forums- Boys down south use these all the time when planning both hunting and fishing trips up this way. You should too.
7) Fish fast once you’re there- There’s no reason you shouldn’t until you have to or in the frame of mind to. When fishing new water, fish different types of water until you find what you’re looking for.
8) Different lures- Please, please don’t fish the same lure as your partner on new water. My rule of thought is that it takes 4-5 fish in quick order with me not catching a fish to switch to what someone else is fishing. Why limit yourself to one lure until you have to?
9) Have a backup plan- Have another lake close by to fish if the first one isn’t working for you. Also, if possible, bring a pair of waders or a belly boat with you for this exact circumstance.
10) Away from the Metro- I’ll claim in a few months in NEBRASKAland why you don’t have to leave the metro to catch fish, and I wholeheartedly believe that. But I also know that with a little bit longer drive in almost any direction, you minimize the amount of boats on a lake and maximize the different types of water you can fish.
That’s all I got right now. Most isn’t new, if any of it is new, but you should be reminded of it. For sometimes I have to remind myself.