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Fishing the Multi-Species Option

By Jerry Carlson - July 6, 2020
There are days when my fishing efforts revolve around targeting one species of fish. On these outings, I may pick a bass lake or walleye water, or maybe even look for panfish. However, there are those times, especially when I am taking less experienced anglers, that I opt for the multi-species approach.

Not every lake is a good multi-species option. My number one requirement for a quality multi-species lake is one with a distinct deep weedline.

This nice northern bit a slow death spinner rig fished on the deep weedline.
I have always believed that a good deep weedline is the interstate of the underwater world. It will hold all of the major species of fish in a lake at some point in time. Bass, northern, walleye and larger panfish will all frequent this very important edge.

When it comes to targeting multi-species on the deep weedline, there are several choices. A basic option is to use live bait.

Back in the days when I did a lot of guiding, one of my favorite techniques was to troll small sucker minnows on floating jigheads just outside the deep weedline. Sucker minnows, especially small ones, are a delicacy for predator fish. Everything wants to eat them.

I always used a bit heavier mono leader on my floating jighead snells to offset the sharp teeth of northern. It wasn't 100% effective but it did help combat the cutting edge of their teeth without deterring to many of the other species we wanted to catch.

Bass will readily eat small sucker minnows trolled along the deep weed edge.
One other advantage to small sucker minnows was to reduce the pecking action of sunfish that is encountered when using leeches or crawlers.

Another option for deep weedline fishing is slow death. In order to give it more of a multi-species appeal, I like to add the tail of a plastic worm to the hook instead of a plain crawler. The plastic is durable and will attract bites just as it is.

In order to increase the appeal of the spinning plastic, I will often add some form of live bait. A chunk of crawler, a leech or even a small minnow will make this simple but effective presentation more tantalizing.

When going with something totally artificial, I always have the jigworm as my first choice. When worked along the deep weedline, the jigworm will attract the attention of many fish species. If the deep weedline is at a reasonable depth, I will even troll this combo along the edge using a subtle hopping action.

My wife, Colette, used a jigworm to entice this weedline bass.
When looking for a place to use the multi-species approach, I focus on structure such as points, mid-lake humps and sharp breaks. It won't take long to figure out where the active fish are residing.

The deep weedline approach for multi-species fishing is a perfect option for late summer. With the weed growth at its peak and the annual fish migration to deep water complete, there are plenty of hungry customers lurking on this edge.

On days when a tug on the line is the most important consideration, the multi-species, deep weedline approach is the way to go.

Author Jerry Carlson
Jerry Carlson
Jerry started his outdoor career in 1987 when he began writing for Outdoors Weekly. He currently writes about a 130 articles a year for various publications in the Midwest. In addition to writing and giving numerous hunting and fishing seminars, Jerry does weekly radio shows on two St. Cloud, Minnesota stations; WJON and WWJO. He also authored a book called Details for Locating and Catching Fish. Hunting and fishing photos and articles written by Jerry, along with his email address, can be found at Jerry fishes all species but prefers crappies in the winter and bass in the summer. He also loves to hunt Canada geese in the fall.
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