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Keep Quiet in the Shallows

By Bob Jensen - June 1, 2006
Keep Quiet in the ShallowsEarly in the open water fishing season, many of our favorite fish that live in Midwest lakes are active in the shallow water, and when they're shallow, they are often willing to bite.

However, shallow water fish are often quite spooky. Too much noise or motion will make them skittish. They will either leave the shallows or just not bite until things quiet down. To catch these shallow water fish, there are a few things we need to keep in mind.

Fish in clear water will be more spooky than fish in stained or dirty water. Clear water fish are just a little more nervous when they're shallow. An angler needs to be even more cautious when fishing shallows.

First of all, make longer casts. The farther we are from the fish, the less spooky they will be. If you're close to them, motion and noise will scare them more.

If you're casting to specific targets where you think fish could be waiting, cast past the target. A bait splashing down right on top of a fish will sometimes scare it, although I have seen a few times when a bass will seemingly grab the bait before it even lands. Those times are pretty rare though.

When fishing shallow, an electric motor will be a big advantage.

"Fish in clear water will be more spooky than fish in stained or dirty water. Clear water fish are just a little more nervous when they're shallow."
Electrics are super quiet, but you need to use them properly to take full advantage of their stealth.

It works best to keep the motors on low speed. Low speeds are quieter. You especially don't want to hit the "Go" button when the motor is set on a high speed. This sudden surge of noise and power will spook most fish in the area.

Some anglers prefer to keep the motor on a very low speed and keep moving slowly while they cast, others like to stop the motor, cast the area completely, then move. Either way will do the job; just keep the motor on low speed when you're fishing. Speed up if you're moving to another area.

Many anglers like the Auto Pilot feature found on some Minn Kota motors. Oftentimes in the shallows we're just cruising through. Holding to a tight contour or exact path isn't necessary. The Auto Pilot allows an angler to work an area without making constant adjustments to the path of the boat.

Of course you don't want to be dropping tackleboxes or anchors on the floor of the boat while fishing the shallows. This will spook the fish just as quickly as a sudden burst from the electric motor. If you keep in mind that any sort of noise or too much motion will have an affect on how many fish you'll catch, you're going to increase your odds of catching more fish in shallow water throughout the summer months.

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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