Lake Fishing Techniques and Tips
Whether you are a first time fisherman or you have been doing it all your life, from time to time we can all use a few more lake fishing techniques and fishing tips . There are few activities that can be as rewarding, relaxing, competitive, or frustrating. By learning a few fishing techniques you will be ready to hit the lake in no time!
If you have been at the fishing game awhile you may want to check out our specific articles or the Lake Fishing Tips Blog where you will be able to learn in-depth fishing techniques. We would also like for you to share your fishing stories with us. Everyone loves a good story, and fishermen tell the best!
Where to start?
A great place to start fishing is in your own area. Many people are surprised to find out that there are many spots to pond or lake fish in their own area. There are a few great resources you can use to find available fishing spots in your area. Kingfisher makes a great guide to lakes across the country. You can find lakes in your specific region and get an idea of what is available. Many states have listings and maps on lakes on their DNR website. When searching for a lake, never discount the local tackle shop. Most bait and tackle stores are staffed with local, knowledgeable staff who can suggest a watering hole that would be ideal for what you are looking for. This brings up a good question.
What are you looking for?
Are you looking to fish for a particular type of fish or are you looking to take the family out for a relaxing day and see what is biting; you may even be interested in trying out some fishing techniques you learned here. What you are fishing for will determine a few things: what lake you should fish on, what tackle you need to bring and, in many states, what licensing is required. Here is a brief description of some of the species of fish you may consider fishing for and what to expect fishing for them is like. Click on the species for more lake fishing tips!
Bluegill- Bluegill is a fun little fish to catch, tasty too! Bluegill is fairly easy to catch and requires a minimal amount of equipment to fish for. The fishing techniques used for bluegill fishing are very basic. Since they stay in schools if you find one, there is sure to be more. Most freshwater lakes have bluegill and many times they are close to shore, which makes them ideal for shore fishing. Bluegill like to nibble and run with a bait.
Crappie- Crappie fishing is fun from a boat. Many people like to set out their lines and troll deeper portions of the lake, looking for a school. Like with bluegill, once you find a school it is best to work that area heavily.
Bass- Bass are fun for a fight! Adult bass in the Midwest tend to be around 16 inches. Fishing for bass can be done from shore or from a boat. While bass fishing may take a bit more casting and patience, they are definitely worth it! You will know you have a bass because they like to aggressively strike the bait. The fishing techniques used in bass fishing can be a bit more in-depth than some of the pan fish.
Catfish- Catfishing is great from the shore! For the most part, catfish can be as low maintenance to fish for as bluegill, but with a bigger payout. If you would like to night fish, catfish is perfect!
Carp- Carp are usually seen as a nuisance fish in the U.S. however, many folks are realizing how fun carp fishing can be. Carp are usually not the most tasty, but they are fairly easy to fish for and put up a great fight. Fishing techniques used for carp fishing are very similar to those used in catfishing.
Steelhead- Steelhead are great if you are looking for a fight! If you have a good river or stream you can tap into when the steelhead are running, with a bit of equipment, you could be in for a big payoff and a great time.
Northern Pike- Northerns can take time, preparation, and patience, but the fight they put up is worth the extra effort. Normally, Northern Pike reside in deep water and can be tricky to hunt down, so a boat is needed. They can be finicky eaters so learning a few fishing techniques before you go out may save some time. Also, be sure to be prepared to deal with their razor sharp teeth!
Fishing Techniques for a fun day with the family
Remember that you don’t always need to use fancy fishing techniques to catch fish. A simple worm and bobber rig is great for pan fish such as bluegill, perch, crappie, sunfish and pumpkin seeds. You will want to find a spot where you can see the bobbers and the wind will not carry them into brush. If you are looking to spend a fun day out with the family, or looking to get your kids introduced to some lake fishing techniques, pan fishing from shore is a great place to start. Pan fishing can be done with the minimal amount of equipment and is fairly easy to teach. You will want to select a location that is friendly for parking your crew. Many locations have piers or docks where you can set a few chairs or dangle your feet in the water. You may also want to see if there is a nearby bathroom!
A few other things to consider
Are you going to be fishing from the shore or from a boat? The fishing techniques you will need to employ may differ. Here are a few things to consider:
Shoreline- Is the shoreline clear enough for you to have lake access? Is the shoreline shared with a swimming area? Does the lake have ample ideal fishing spots along the accessible shore (i.e. shade, lily pads, down stumps)?
Boat fishing- Does the lake you select have a boat launch? Will you need to rent a boat? If you already have one, is it a size suiting to the lake you select?
Lake fishing from a shore line offers fisherman a wide variety of options with little prep time. By not relying on a boat to fish you can literally be ready to fish within minutes and you will have access to many of the smaller fishing holes that do not have boat access.
“Being raised only boat fishing, I was surprised at how liberating shore fishing was. I would have days when I was itching to fish, but couldn’t seem to fit a trip to the lake, uncovering the boat, loading up the gear, getting a few hours on the lake and then unloading the boat, covering it and making the drive back. I found a little public pond between work and home that I can stop at for ten minutes or a few hours. I keep a small tackle box in the car and a two piece rod in the trunk.”
There may be a few fishing techniques you will need to employ. When finding a lake or pond to shore fish from you want to make sure that the water has some movement to it or is fed from a natural spring or creek. If a pond or small lake doesn’t have movement with the water, there is a good chance that oxygen levels in the water are lower. This can result in a pond with few fish with sluggish biting habits.
Once you have your pond or lake selected, set up a small tackle box suited for what you are going to fish for and what fishing techniques you are going to use. It is always best to have a few of the basics; spare hooks, sinkers, swivels, bobbers, favorite lures, etc. Some of the other basics you should have on you are a pair of needle nose pliers, a basket or stringer if you plan on keeping your catch and a pocket knife. If you have an extra reel handy, it is a good idea to bring that with, as well.
It is recommended that you rig up your rod before you actually get to the lake. It is much easier to thread the line through your eyes and tie your snaps when you aren’t dealing with wind or uneven ground.
When you arrive at the pond or lake find a spot where you think the fish will be. Look for areas with brush cover, weed pockets or lily pads. On your way to the spot you select, cast out your line, you never know what you are going to find or where they will be.
Above all, remember to have fun and relax. The fish my not bite immediately and you may need to try a few different spots, but a few minutes or a day of fishing beats a few minutes or a day not fishing!
If you have a boat or have decided to rent a boat, you have a couple of options on how you would like to fish and a wider variety of fishing techniques you can use. Anchoring down in one spot is common for pan fishing. If it is a hotter day, find a spot with deeper weed cover and a low depth. Bluegill and perch will go to the cooler water and will feed heavier in these areas. If it is spawn season, you will want to try to find a spawn bed, usually closer to the shoreline.
Stationary fishing can also be good when fishing for Northern pike, which tend to be in the deeper cold waters.
Moving and Casting
The most effective fishing techniques for bass are to cast a crank-bait along the shore line or weed bed. With this practice you are slowly trolling along the shore line, stopping and casting as you go. This allows you to work your way around the lake and focus you casting in pockets where the bass may be laying. By using the trolling motor to control your pace and location, you can easily double back to a spot where you are getting hits.
Trolling is setting your lines out, usually at a longer distance than one can cast; having your polls secured in the boat, and slowly trolling around the lake. This technique is great for crappie fishing, because it allows you to cover a great deal of area in a relatively short time. Since crappie are school fish, trolling allows you to find the schools and work the areas they are with ease
If you have enjoyed learning the beginning lake fishing techniques, check out our Lake Fishing Tips blog!