Tackle & Techniques: Bank fishing tips

Tackle & Techniques: Bank fishing tips

May 30, 2015

Put fish and family into a frenzy with these summertime tips!

By Mike Pehanich

Early summer is prime time for panfish and stoking your family’s fishing passion!

We are deep into the month of May, and, if I were to graph the fishing logs of fellow area anglers, I’m sure that you would see a chart that looks a lot like a roller coaster!

May fishing has been up and down. For a short while, the angler success curves roughly followed the curve of the daily high temperatures. Then, as spawning activity commenced, the “ups” became smaller blips. Most report that fishing has been tough all over and spotty at best.

Trout, too, are willing diners when it comes to jelly pellet baits like Marukyu JPz.

Trout, too, are willing diners when it comes to jelly pellet baits like Marukyu JPz.

Summertime oohs!

That’s why I welcome summer! Our North American freshwater fish love stability, and summertime brings more stable weather and water conditions than the fish have seen since, well, last summer!

Early to mid summer may be the very best time of year for family fishing. Fish move to predictable areas from which they can feed and find shelter. Find these conditions, and you will likely find the fish, too.

On many waters, you can reach these fish from convenient bank areas and get the whole family in on the action. What are you looking for? The best combination is a flat with a mix of hard bottom and high quality, fish-attracting vegetation along with proximity to deeper water.

Now vegetation can be a touchy topic when it comes to family fishing. Many anglers hate aquatic plants. Notice that I do not use the term “weeds” very often when it comes to aquatic life. “Weeds” are undesirable growths, something that you eradicate from your yard or garden. But waters benefit from healthy plant life, which provides food, cover, and dissolved oxygen and generally improves water clarity. Having vegetation over a third or more of your lake is generally healthy for the entire aquatic eco-system.

True, aquatic plants can make fishing a bit more difficult, depending on the baits and tactics you use to fish around it. But, even if you have several family members in tow, it often pays to find an area with vegetation that holds fish yet leaves the angler an opportunity to present his or her bait on the edges of that grass line or over the top of it.

Bluegill are the hands-down favorites of family fishing.

Bluegill are the hands-down favorites of family fishing.

A simple approach

You can present baits and lures in countless ways, but family fishing leans heavily toward simple terminal tackle combinations — particularly those that employ a float, a.k.a. “bobber.”

A bobber offers several important advantages, particularly when you have novice anglers more anxious than able to catch fish. For one, floats keep the bait at a precise and adjustable depth. For another, they usually deliver a clear and visible sign when the fish has taken the bait — a twitch, sideways movement or total disappearance of the bobber.

I could write several chapters on some of the more sophisticated “floats” that modern angling has introduced to the fishing masses. Instead, let me offer this simple principle: use the smallest bobber offering the least resistance to the fish that you can get away with! For the most part, that means matching the float to the size of the bait you are using. Check that the rig is balanced to detect even a light bite from a wary fish. You can add and subtract tiny in-line weights — split shot — to get the desired balance — heavy enough to keep the bobber floating vertically but not so heavy to make it sink.

I try to sway most bank anglers and novice fishermen away from the use of the typical large round red-and-white “beach ball” bobbers that are almost emblematic of family fishing. Most fishermen use bobbers that are far too large for the bait they are using and the fish they pursue. Opt instead for some of the longer, lighter floats that offer almost no resistance to a feeding fish. If you do use the ol’ red-and whites, downsize them as much as possible.

Family fishing is all about "action," and even small baitfish like round goby (pictured above) and golden shiner -- which respond readily attractants and jarred baits --  will bring a thrill to novice anglers.

Family fishing is all about “action,” and even small baitfish like round goby (pictured above) and golden shiner — which respond readily attractants and jarred baits — will bring a thrill to novice anglers.

Bait selection

Panfish (perch, bluegill, crappie, various sunfish), trout, catfish, carp and an occasional bass are the target species on the typical family fishing outing. Minnows, wax worms, nightcrawlers, red worms, and an assortment of insects and other aquatic creatures will all catch fish under the right circumstance and if properly rigged.

But manufacturers have come up with a wide range of bait concoctions made with natural fish foods and attractants that are far easier to use and a true godsend when healthy, high quality live bait is hard to find in your area. What’s more, these branded baits are much easier to maintain than live bait, which usually requires careful handling and monitoring throughout the day to maintain its effectiveness.

Among the latest factory baits to hit the North American scene are from Japan-based Marukyu, maker of premium ground and hook baits. Bank fishing generally is far more sophisticated in the crowded public waters of Europe, Japan, and other parts of Asia. Anglers there use ground bait attractants that help stimulate fish activity and draw fish to the angler’s section of bank.

Among the various foods, attractants and amino acids found in Marukyu bait formulations are silkworm chrysalis powder, which seems to have wide appeal among fish species, and krill, a shrimp-like sea crustacean with almost universal fish appeal.

Marukyu’s biggest breakthrough in recent years, however, has been the JPz line of amino acid-packed jelly pellets. These convenient jar-packed baits are easy to carry and maintain. More importantly, they appeal to a wide range of fish species and even seem to activate fish appetites.

Marukyu markets hundreds of other ground and hook baits besides its JPz jelly pellets.

Marukyu markets hundreds of other ground and hook baits besides its JPz jelly pellets.

“Bluegill and other members of the sunfish family really respond to Marukyu JPz pellets,” notes Munenori Kajiwara, owner of Japan Import Tackle (www.japanimporttackle.com). “Bluegill are usually the most sought after species on family fishing outings, and bluegill just love those JPz jelly pellets!”

The pellets work well fished individually or together on a small hook below a small float. They can also be side-hooked, hair rigged or fished in small sacs like salmon eggs.

JPz products release their scent and attractants slowly. Generally, they will stand up to multiple casts provided that they are cast with a gentle sweeping motion. They are available in multiple varieties including the crustacean-based JPz Ebi formulation, the green seaweed-based JPz Nori, JPz Black (popular with European match anglers), and even a JPz Tough variety that is able to stand up to long or vigorous casts.

Marukyu baits are available at Lee’s Global Tackle (www.leesglobaltackle.com; phone: 847/593-6424) and Wacker Bait & Tackle (phone: (708) 450-0305).

For additional information on Marukyu’s JPz and other Marukyu, Nories, and Ecogear lures, contact Munenori, Kajiwara at 630/299-6508.



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