by Bob Jensen

When it comes to fishing success, in open water or through the ice, there are a few basic things you need to do. Probably the most important thing is finding the fish. You can't catch 'em if you don't find 'em.

Once you've found the fish, you need to present a bait to them. Bait presentation is also very, very important. You need to decide if live bait or artificial will be better. If you go with live bait, do you use a minnow or a leech or a crawler or something else?

If you decide on artificial, what type of artificial do you use and in what size or color or shape? There are a lot of options when you are trying to figure out what to tie on the end of your line, and most of them are pretty simple decisions. One thing that will really determine how many fish you catch is where you present the bait. You've got to keep in mind where the fish are in that body of water, then you've got to present your bait at that level.

Level for Fish

Put your bait at the same level as the fish. This Green Bay walleye was fifteen feet down over twenty five feet of water​

Fish do different things in different bodies of water. In many lakes many of the fish will live near the bottom. That's where their food is. If you want to catch walleyes in the summer on Kabetogama Lake in Minnesota, you'll need to fish near the bottom to do so.

In other bodies of water, the fish will suspend. That's because the food they eat is suspended. If you want to catch walleyes on Green Bay in Wisconsin in the summer, you'll want to fish for suspended fish.

There are several very good ways to present your bait at the exact level where the fish are. When ice-fishing it's a simple matter to watch your depth-finder. It will show you where your bait is in relation to the fish. Put your bait where the fish are and your chances for getting bit increase a lot.

When trolling for suspended fish, planer boards will be a big help. Boards will enable you to spread your lines and cover several different levels or depths. The outside board should be set so the bait is running shallow, the inside boards will be set so the bait is running deeper, which prevents the possibility of spooking the fish. Off Shore Tackle produces Guppies and Tadpoles that enable you to effectively cover the different depths.

Lastly, if you've got the fish pinpointed, probably the best way to present a bait at exactly the right level is with a slip-bobber. You determine how deep you want the bait to be, then you set the bobber stop at that depth. If you want your bait six feet below the surface, set the bobber stop six feet above the hook.

One last thought: Keep your bait a little bit above the fish. Fish will generally be more willing to move up for a bait than move down.

We don't need to make fishing difficult, but we want to catch something when we go. If you put your bait at the right level for the fish, you'll increase your chances for getting bit.

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