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Try Deeper For More Fish

By Bob Jensen - August 1, 2002
We've entered that time of year when, in many bodies of water, the fish move deep. They still might move into shallower water when they are aggressive, and there will always be some fish shallow, but if you want a good chance to catch fish consistently this time of year, it might be a good idea to move deep.

In some lakes deep is ten or twelve feet, in other lakes you might be looking at thirty to almost forty feet of water. Of course there are many bodies of water throughout the Midwest that are very deep, but for most species of fish, most of the time, forty feet is about as deep as you'll want to go.

When fishing deep water, it pays to do some looking with your sonar before even wetting a line. In deep water fish are pretty easy to see on a sonar, and you want to spend your time fishing in areas where there are fish. The Humminbird Legend 3000 is becoming very popular with anglers because it does a great job of revealing the presence of fish. Many of the most accomplished anglers will simply criss-cross a structure that they expect will hold fish until the fish are spotted on the sonar. They will then concentrate on that one particular area.

There are several bait presentations that will work in deep water. If deep water in your lake is ten or twelve feet, crankbaits or spinners will be a great choice for walleyes. If deep water is over twenty feet in the body of water you're fishing, a Roach Rig will often be the best choice, especially if the fish are a little finicky. Roach Rigs will be very productive when walleyes or smallmouth bass are the quarry.

If you're after crappies, a jig will be perhaps your best bet. Many anglers are often amazed at how many slab crappies can be caught from deep water this time of year. A sixteenth or eighth ounce Fire-Ball jig tipped with a two inch Power Grub on four-pound test line will be very effective on the crappies. Use a limp, thin line like Trilene XL in deep water. The smaller diameter will make it easier to fish the depths.

It's important that we practice a little fish handling etiquette when dealing with deep-water fish. Fish that come from deep water can be hurt by the change of water pressure. Reel the fish in slowly do reduce the chance for harm if you plan to release the fish.

Also, if you're going to be releasing the fish, consider taking the hook out at boatside instead of lifting the fish into the boat. That will also reduce stress.

Lastly, if you're going to keep a few fish, and the ones you're catching are the wrong size for keeping, move to a different location. Look for a group of keeper fish instead of possibly harming fish you don't want to keep.

Deep-water fishing requires a little more patience than fishing in the shallows or mid-depth ranges, but can be very productive. Keep an eye on your electronics, make sure your bait is near the area where the fish are, and you'll find out just how rewarding it can be to fish in the depths this time of year.

Author Bob Jensen
Bob Jensen
Bob Jensen is the host of the Fishing the Midwest television series, a series of television fishing shows that highlight fishing locations and techniques throughout the Midwest. He also writes a syndicated fishing column and does fishing seminars throughout the Midwest. He is a former fishing guide and tournament angler. Visit Bob's web site at
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