Off a Persuader Three Blade Buzzbait, this approximately 20.5″ largemouth slams the lure with so much strength that, for a few seconds, my rod bent down, rocking my kayak back and forth. Feeling a burst of acceleration after seeing the monster surface and wrestle the water, I carefully fought the hog and slowly reeled it in. At first glance, I thought the bass was a carp due to its football-shaped body, but was soon shaken with excitement after seeing the whole image. A scale wasn’t present at the time, but this bass was eating well; its mouth could have literally fit my hand and everything about it was beautiful. After a quick photo, I released the hog back into the lake to fight another day. ‘Twas a great catch due to an incoming storm, causing me to retreat home. Was it worth the 30-minute drive to fish for 20 minutes? Definitely.
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.