2015 open-water fishing takeaways

November 30, 2015 by  

I’m sure of it: My open water fishing season for 2015 is over. It’s sleeting outside and the boat has been retired for the season. When the boat gets put away, I like to reflect a bit on the just-completed open water fishing season. Following are some “take-aways” from my 2015 open water season.

The more I learn about fishing, the more I realize there is so much more to learn. Just when you think you have a particular species of fish, or particular technique figured out, you realize there is so much more to know about that species or technique. The most successful anglers never stop learning.

Sturgeon Bay Walleye

Mike Gottheardt with a nice walleye taken on an Impulse Paddle Shad. Plastic is catching on for anglers everywhere.

Technology continues to help us catch more fish. Modern sonar shows so much of the underwater world, and the mapping options enable us to be right on the spots that we want to be on. We can see the fish, we can even get a pretty good idea if they’ll be biters. I started using Raymarine sonar a couple of years ago and learn more and more about what they can do every time I go fishing. The colors are vivid and detail is amazing. I truly believe I can see individual baitfish when they are schooling. If you pay attention to your sonar and do what it suggests you should do, you’re going to catch more fish.

Live bait continues to produce when fishing is tough, but the more we learn about fishing, and the more we’re willing to experiment, the more we’re using plastic baits. Plastic gives us lots of different shape and color options, and it’s so much more durable. There are times when live bait is better, but there are so many times when plastic is a much better option. This year on a number of occasions we used Impulse plastic to effectively catch walleyes, crappies, bass, perch and pike in what would traditionally be thought of as live-bait situations. Impulse is reported to be 143% more effective than other plastics. I don’t know how much more effective it is, but I know I catch a lot of fish with the stuff.

It has become so easy to get lots of information about fishing. The trick is to figure out what information is good and what isn’t: There’s an abundance of both.

My most important take-away from this year’s fishing is the same every year: Fishing is fun and it’s what you make it. Some anglers really enjoy all the technology and big boats and casting and trolling while others like to sit on the bank of the river and watch a bobber. You should enjoy fishing and you should fish the way you like. Take some time to absorb the other things that are part of fishing. On Kabetogama Lake this fall we took a break from the fishing to watch a family of otters playing on the shoreline. I remember that as well and as fondly as any fish we caught that day, and we caught some nice ones.

It’s getting colder outside and ice is starting to form on the lakes. It’s time for me to create some ice-fishing take-aways to share at the conclusion of this ice-fishing season.

To see all the most recent episodes of Fishing the Midwest television, new fishing related tips, and fishing articles from the past, visit fishingthemidwest.com. If you do Facebook, check us out for a variety of fishing related things.


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