Jamie here with your report for the first week of April.
Well, It's been a busy time at Customfish lately. We wrapped up our winter season of fishing shows and started our fishing season as well. So let's get right to it.
Mike and I have been getting out a few times when we can and doing very well. The keys to catching big bass right now are temperatures, rain, crayfish and speed.
We're throwing Rapala Husky Jerks and Rattle Traps in natural colors (even in stained and dingy waters) and using very fast eratic retrieves. Almost like you'd work a jerk bait for muskies. Two or three big twitches and then a dead pause for one second has been driving them crazy for 3 weeks now. When throwing a Rattle Trap, give your rod a pretty quick upward lift while reeling to get that bait ripping thru the water and then just as quickly let it die and flutter down a foot or two. If you remember the bass called Mama Cass from last year here at Lago Casa, she let her presence known and clobbered that very Rattle Trap retrieve about 4' in front of Mike's feet just to let us know she's still alive and kicking at well over 5 lbs. She had no intention of staying hooked...but we'll get her photo again later.
Another thing that is working for bass right now is any jig & plastic combo that looks like a crayfish which means THROW BROWNS AND BLACKS!! We tried 3 or 4 different plastics today and caught largemouth up to 20" and smallies up to 18.5" all on brown or black. We tried white, yellow, chartruese, bluegill patters, etc and got nothing...then we'd put brown or black on and whammo!! Fish on! Don't be afraid to go with 3 & 4" plastics too. There's guys out there catching dinks on 1 & 2" plastics but at this time of year it's a trophy that you have a chance at. And trophies don't want a small meal after a long winter.
If it rains..find an incoming creek or drainage pipe and hit it where it dumps into the lake or river. The temperature rise and the insects that it brings after a spring rain are as good as gold if you're looking for seom fast and furious action.
Crappies..crappies..crappies. I think we've caught about 300 in the last week. Along with yellow bass. They're all ready to spawn and can be found near any shallow brush pile , in any shallow channel and especially at any incoming water source. We had a competition the other day between Mike, his brother-in-law and myself. We hit 16 crappies EACH in about 10 minutes and decided to call it a draw.
Now here's where yoou're 1-2" plastics come it handy. A 2" white twister tail on a 1/32 oz ball head jig set 12-18" under a float and reeled in dead slow is probably the single best crappie rig we have found yet. We have been outfishing guys with minnows at a rate of about 5 to 1 with this set-up. It's deadly on yellow bass as well.
I was on lake LaSalle with Bill Anderson on Easter morning. ( See Bill's site on our affiliates page under CatchPhotoRelease.com) I used a Matzuo deep piving crankbait in a bluegill pattern while Bill and his friend Chris used primarily Zip Blades in our search for striped bass along the mile-long breakwalls that line LaSalle. We each got a nice striper for the day along with a few smallmouth bass, a bunch of cats, a huge bluegill, a couple drum and a partridge in a pear tree. For tips on fishing ANY cooling lake in Illinois and the Illinois River, please send Bill an e-mail on his site.
Last tuesday the Customfish.com crew played hooky and headed to the east side of Lake Michigan to try to catch the steelhead run up some tributaries. We missed it by a few days, but still managed to get some brown trout, a few small rainbows and a harbor coho. I even got my first pike of the year.
We had some great hikes that day...probably covered 5 or 6 miles of thicket and thornbush ladden forests and waterways as well as a 1/4 mile of Lake Michigan breakwater wall made out of car size boulders.
Thank you Mike for leading me to my first wild brown trout and my first rainbow this side of the continental divide.
For up-to-date trout and salmon reports in the midwest check out Matt's reports on ramblingreports.com . He's got the steelhead down to a science right now on the Wisconsin side of the lake.
Drop us a line via email and let us know if any of out tips pan out for you.
We'll leave you with a bunch of photos from the past two weeks to start out the all new "Customfishing Report" !