Smallmouth and largemouth bass are two species that don’t commonly share the same environment. In rivers, where the body of water is constantly moving into a larger body of water (such as a lake or river), it is typically inhabited with smallmouth, who adapts and endures the punishment of the river current and rapids. In lakes, where the body of water is relatively calm and doesn’t wake as much, it is typically inhabited with largemouths, who tends to use the tactic of ambush whilst hiding amongst plants such as lily pads or weeds. Any angler who has caught enough smallmouth and largemouth bass will know that smallmouths have the endurance of a cross-country runner while largemouths seem to tap out quicker and give up within a minute or two after being hooked. Although this is the case, largemouth bass has an impressive explosive strike that can be heard hundreds of feet away if the angler is using topwater.
Smallmouth and largemouth bass do share similar taste in lures, but using the right lure at the right time is important. Being a savvy topwater angler like I am, I have discovered different topwater lures that fits the environment of the bass. In rivers, I tend to use buzzbait and propbait more to wake the water as well as create an alarming sound to pull the curiosity of the bass out from underneath the structure. In lakes, I also use buzzbait as well as weedless lures, such as frogs. Frogs are great to use within the mats due to its weedless hooks as well as the relatively-close imitation of a frog. With buzzbait, I’m able to loudly glide the lure amongst the mat and create a disturbance to attract any bass that are hiding by the side of the mat waiting for a quick meal. River bass fishing and lake bass fishing are not limited to the lures that I’ve stated in this passage; there are many techniques that other anglers use, depending on their sole preference, which makes fishing extremely enjoyable to be able to see what other anglers are using as well as being able to use what you have.
Northern pikes are also inhabited in both rivers and lakes and tend to be one of the top freshwater predatory fish in WI due to its sharp rows of teeth which can feed on near anything below and above water. I do enjoy fishing for pikes because their size vary and it’s always a mystery if you’ll be catching a giant pike or not. As a rule of thumb, I always carry a set of plier as well as fish gripper to tackle these pikes when hooked.
Recently, where I live, I’ve been able to hit both rivers and lakes and enjoy the excitement of catching both smallmouth and largemouth bass, and occasionally, pikes. I’ve definitely become more familiar with bass fishing in rivers and lakes as well as what to expect in each habitat.
While floating down the Red Cedar River today in western WI, I noticed a bat tied up in some thick, fluorocarbon fishing line. As you may be aware of, fluorocarbon can really be a mess when tangled together (trust me, I’ve had a bird’s nest on a baitcast with fluoro, it’s a nightmare). This bat was in despair as it flaps above the water trying to escape. It’s about 6-7″, which was the perfect size for any big bass or pikes if these predator were around this commotion. Thankfully, the bat was rescued, dried, and released into the woods, but I was disappointed at the excessive amount of lines across the edges of the woods. Obviously, these lines were cut or snapped by some kayak anglers who didn’t bother to paddle to the tree and retrieve as much line as possible to eliminate any hazard like what the bat witnessed. I understand that if the lines were too high to reach and they intentionally snap the line; but, when the line is retrievable but ignored, that destroys the purpose of fishing and intentionally harming other creatures due to selfishness. The line was removed and stored for later disposal.
Frogging is a topwater skill that may be extremely difficult for others, yet satisfying once the bass is hooked. As a frog user, I know the frustration of setting the hook a tad too late or too early. Throughout the years while frogging on shore and kayak, I’ve learned that there are multiple ways to use a frog whether it is twitching with pauses, popping with pauses, continuous twitching, or walking the frog. The habitat definitely matters to the bass; in thick-covered mats, I usually continuously pop the frog to create that irresistible sound for the bass. Also, as a tip recommended by a friend of mine, I trim off 1/2″ off the tail of the frog as well. You may realize that many bass strike the tail and not the frog itself. The tail is an attractant to many frogs and trimming the tail closer to the hook will definitely improve the hook ratio. Although I still do miss some bass (huge ones also) on frog, I never give up on using them. I always have a pole rigged with a frog for the opportunity to cast into the mats and pull out a hog.
Whether on shore, wading in creeks or rivers, or on a kayak, fly fishing is the ultimate test of using a rod. After you are able to manually cast, set the hook, and maintain consistent drag on a fly rod, using other rods, such as spincast, baitcast, or spinning, will be much easier. This weekend, I entered the lakes and river with a fly rod, eliminating the use of a non-fly rod. The species that a fly rod is able to catch surpasses that of other non-fly rod, as the lures used can vary from small flies to dragonfly-sized popper. From bluegills to trout to bass to whitefish, topwater fly fishing has introduced me to a whole new level of fishing and contagious action.
Great scenery, calm water, and nature’s whisper: just some of the many pros of kayak fishing through a creek. Besides these amazing factors of creek fishing, creeks are home to some of WI’s most ferocious predators such as bass, pikes, muskies, otter, snapping turtles, and eagles. The plethora of smaller prey fish makes creek home to many great animals, which is perfect for scenery as well as fishing.
STUCK? No problem! One of the many reasons why I love kayak fishing is being able to squeeze through shallow creeks to get to the fishes. Although there is definitely more work put into transporting, the cool, running water by your legs makes you feel like you are part of the habitat for that brief moment. Creeks are definitely my preferred fishing areas where it is only accessible to wading anglers as well as kayaks who put the effort into transporting. Inhabited by dozens of small species of fish, creeks are great areas for large predatory fish to sit and wait for the perfect moment to attack the smaller prey. WI is home to many elongated creeks that runs through small towns and roadways. Although the rides down creeks streams may be long, the scenery and fishery is worth every minute of your time.
Four hours kayak fishing Friday, ten hours fishing Saturday, and three hours fishing Sunday. It has been a great start to bass fishing this year. From the adrenaline-pumping, shallow rapids in the river to the calm, deep waters of the lake, fishing for both smallmouth bass and largemouth bass has been great. The different habitat that these two kinds of bass inhabit in is truly amazing. One reason why I enjoy kayak fishing for bass is because of the freedom the angler experiences by being able to freely fish in creeks, rivers, lakes, and thick-covered lily pads or marshes without the worry of getting anything stuck in the motor or slamming against rocks. Although I got totally baked by the sun, fishing for three days have been great. Hopefully all you anglers had a great time on bass opening as well!
The best part I love about trout fishing is you know exactly where they are once the flies are out. While I was out today, trouts were feeding throughout the pond on flies hovering above the water. The best part was not fishing for them, but watching them jump full-body out of the water to catch the flies. Sometimes one at a time, or sometimes multiple trouts are soaring through the air. They would literally jump right by the dock next to you, just to catch a two-centimeter fly. These fish definitely take advantage of both air and water to catch their next meal. Times like this makes me miss topwater fishing, but bass season is right around the corner, and I’ll have myself some topwater action.
To see how accurate Livetarget’s sunfish are, I compared the hollow topwater to a bluegill. The similarities, besides the color, of scale patterns, gills, and tails are pretty accurate. Imitating a dying panfish, the topwater lure is great for panfish-inhabited water. Bass, pikes, and muskies enjoy preying on small panfish, like bluegills, and the imitation of the Livetarget sunfish is perfect for attracting those hungry predators. The topwater does closely satisfy the looks of a sunfish or bluegill and later on in the season, will do the job for hungry bass. PS: bluegill was quickly released after photo.
Before bass season starts, why not cast a few and catch some crappies? The shores of Lake Menomin are great spawning areas for crappies and many other panfishes. As the weather gets warmer towards mid-spring, crappies start swimming away from the deep-end of the lake and head towards shore to breed. As seen in this image, crappies are great for recreational fishing as well as a delicious dish. Crappie season does not come often, and after a few weeks, this area will be cleared as the predators start coming towards shore to feed off other smaller fishes. It is great to see the fishing community come together every year to fish in this location and enjoy the warm weather. Whether anglers are fishing on shore, boats, or kayaks, there are plenty of fishing area for everyone as the crappies are breeding all around the bay.
Snows are all melted, water temperature is rising, and fishes are starting to actively feed. I have already seen many kayakers, as well as boats, out on the lakes and rivers catching panfishes as well as walleyes. Although bass aren’t moving towards shore feeding and breeding yet, other species have slowly crept towards the shore, both predatory and prey fish. Once bass season hits in a month, the kayak and I will be out there early in the morning catching the biggest hog in in midwestern Wisconsin. The weather has been pretty bipolar in the past few weeks with snow, rain, and heavy wind. Nonetheless, early Spring weather will be over soon and sunshine and warmth thereafter. To all the anglers already out there fishing, whether game fishing, CNE, or recreational fishing, good luck and fish safely!
Snows have been slowly melting throughout the week as the weather rises to 40 degrees and above. Small, icey creeks and rivers are starting to thaw into beautiful streams of water for creek chubs, minnows, trout, and bass to return. Just a couple more weeks and the snow on the ice will be all melted and then it’ll be time to get on the kayak and enjoy the water. Already, I’ve seen dozens of anglers onshore fishing for muskies, pikes, crappies, bluegills, walleyes, and many other species throughout Red Cedar River as well as Lake Menomin in Wisconsin. It’s an amazing sight to see others enjoying the weather and fishing. Soon, I’ll be out there too.