Bobber Fishing

By Steve Sams - May 1, 2005

For many of us this was our first method of fishing. Today with all the different kinds of lures, jigs, and spinners available, bobber fishing has been side stepped. Personally, I still find this method to be the most enjoyable and productive way to fish for panfish, bass and muskies.

A good idea for panfish and bass would be to use an ultra lite combo with a #8 hook, split shot placed 12 inches above the hook and a bobber placed 30 inches back. Use the smallest split shot you can possibly use so the bait can still swim around. Usually a 1/8th oz. works the best.

When you decide to fish with leeches, hooking them right below the sucker will produce the best results. Panfish and bass feed up and are attracted to any kind of movement. Cast near weed lines or along lily pads. If fishing by the weeds, keep your bait just above the weeds. Then wait a few minutes. If you don't get a bite within a short time cast to another spot because if a fish is in the area they will hit a leech relatively quick. With Fireline, you can easily cast into the lily pads and you still will be able to retrieve your bait. when using minnows, insert the hook just ahead and slightly above the anus. This allows the minnow to swim freely and will keep them alive. When a game fish approaches, the bait will swim frantically, making the bobber dance. You know if the fish is a northern or a muskie because once they have the bait, they will make a short run, stop to turn the bait around, and then run again. Now it is time to set the hook.

On slower days, set the bobber low enough to keep the bait just above the weeds and drift. If your bait is a minnow, gently squeeze the eyes until the mouth opens and then place the hook through the bottom lip. This will allow the minnow to breathe and still trail nicely.

All fish bite differently as noted by the movement of the bobber. A smaller panfish will hit the bait and the bobber will bob up and down in the water a couple of times, yet not going completely under the surface. Turtles have the tendency to make the bobber spin in circles. In both cases, it's best to reel in and try another spot. If the bobber goes down and then stays down, it is a bass. That is when you should set the hook and enjoy the fight.

When fishing for muskies, use a quick strike rig, a sucker and a bobber. An effective quick strike, you can make yourself consists of a leader, treble hook, rubber band, and a bobber. Select a wire leader that is as long as the sucker you are going to use. Take a #0 treble hook and attach it to the leader, turn one of the hooks inward and penetrate the side of the sucker. Pick up a 4 inch straight sewing needle and cut away a portion of the eye where the thread will go. Use a small rubber band, attaching one end to the snap of the leader then connect the rubber band into the eye of the needle and slip the needle through the sucker's nostrils, carefully pulling the rubber band through and attaching the end onto the swivel. This will keep the sucker horizontal and will allow it to break away when a musky hits. Place a large enough bobber so that the sucker won't be able to pull it under the water's surface about 42 inches ahead of the leader. Use the smallest bobber or float possible in order to minimize the resistance, which can cause a fish to reject the bait. Lower the sucker into the water on the edge of a weed line and then row away slowly letting the line out. The sucker will do the rest of the work. With this type of quick strike rigs as soon as the bobber goes under, set the hook and hang on.

A new product on the market is the "Rocket Bobber." The aerodynamic design allows lengthy casts without adding any weights. Once it is in the water, it lays on its side and even if a tiny fish nibbles on it, it will quickly stand up. This is a terrific bobber for a light biting fish.

There is no disputing the effectiveness of this style of fishing and when the bobber starts bobbing or moving away, suspense builds in a hurry. Bobber fishing has been around a long time and still offers a great way to fill the live well. Just remember, when you were a child, how much you loved to bobber fish. Times don't have to change!

Author Steve Sams

Steve Sams
Steve Sams is an outdoor writer and licensed fishing guide who specializes in walleye, musky and deer hunting.