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Summertime Blues

By Steve Huber - August 1, 1999
I know, it’s a strange title for a fishing article but we all get it this time of year. You know, you have some vacation time, you’re at the resort/cabin/cottage etc., you want to fish, your spousal unit wants to “just go into town and do a little shopping", the kids want you to pull them around the lake on the tube and you’re ready to pull your hair out because all those dreams of “THE BIG ONE" are rapidly slipping away.

Besides, what you envisioned as an idyllic, peaceful time spent on the water, your boat sliding ghost-like through the cool morning fog as you cast to monster (insert your favorite fish here) is in reality a blistering heat wave (boy I just don’t never gets this hot here!!), you’re quick fried to a crackly crunch from the sun and the tranquility you desperately hoped for is shattered by cruising party barges (complete with blasting boom boxes), water skiers, and the ever present drone of jet skis!

Don’t worry, don’t let it get you down, because here’s what you do. Take your wife shopping, pull the kids on the tube and have fun, cuz you can still get your fishing time in....without dodging boats, tubes and jet skis. Now is not the time for struggling for a couple of poker chip sized bluegills through the sizzling day, wait till nightfall, when the big boys come out to play.

With all of the daytime activity on most lakes, a good portion of the gamefish population is hunkered down, waiting for nightfall and so should you. As the sun begins to set and the lake settles down, go out and get em’ tiger and here’s how you do it. Forget all of the sophisticated, finesse rigs, your steamer trunk sized tackle box and the 14 rods you’ve got standing in the corner. Take one medium baitcaster and a medium spinning rod out in the boat with you. Clear the clutter out of your boat, all you’ll need in there is a flashlight, a landing net, those two rods and a handful of lures. The less you have in your boat, the less things you’ll

...wait till nightfall, when the big boys come out to play!

step on and break. Night fishing is a time for simplicity and relaxation. The lures that you’ll want to take with you are simple also. A couple of crankbaits (straight Rapalas), some in-line spinners and a couple of topwater baits.

It’s absolutely amazing the catches that you can get on most northern Wisconsin lakes when fishing at night. The walleyes that you swore grew wings and migrated to another lake return, the bass are hitting on top again and the muskies grow bigger and meaner than you could ever imagine. Finding fish now is easier too.

Areas to look for are weed edges, rock bars, points, and swimming beaches. Locate these during the day so that you can find them at night. What I look for is anything that creates “a wall", because I believe that the gamefish use these to herd baitfish against. I mentioned swimming beaches for a simple reason, after a day of activity, the bottom is all stirred up and the baitfish come in to feed on the insect life and “critters" that have been dislodged. The gamefish come into these areas and quite often, feed heavily by chasing the baitfish into shallow water where escape is difficult.

What I like to do is patrol the edges of these areas, using my baitcaster to throw topwater lures first. Slow and steady is the rule for night fishing, an erratic retrieve will bring you heart stopping explosions in the dark but won’t get you fish. Use prop type baits or Jitterbugs, lures that create a lot of commotion with a steady retrieve. Doing this will give the fish vibration and noise to home in on and accurately hit. I’ve found that dark lures seem to work better, probably because they project a better silhouette for a fish looking up.

After working an area with topwater lures, then throw either a spinner or crankbait. Again, this is simply “chunking and winding", you want to create the image of an unconcerned baitfish, just cruising along, presenting an easy meal, and as with topwater, a straight retrieve works best for the same reasons.

It does work best if there are two people in the boat for night fishing, for a couple of reasons. If there are two of you in the boat, one of you throw a spinner, the other throw the Rapala, that way, you’ll have the fish tell you what they prefer. The other reason is that when you have a fish on, there will be someone to handle the flashlight and landing net. I hate hand landing fish at night when they have a mouthful of treble hooks. Trying to hold the rod, control the fish while getting the light on and the net ready and actually getting the fish into the net is as easy as juggling Jell-O!!

Night fishing is unbelievably peaceful, the stars are out, all is quiet, just the rhythmic “blub, blub, blub" of the lure, occasionally punctuated by the “SPAALAASH" of that wall hanger hitting your lure. So you see, all isn’t lost, you can have your cake and eat it too!!! All it will cost you is a little lost sleep, besides, you can sleep when you’re back at work!!

Until next time, see ya.

Author Steve Huber

Steve Huber
Steve Huber, an avid angler with over 35 years of experience (man, he's old) is one of the few multi-species guides in the Rhinelander area. He's been operating G & S Guide Service for 8 years now and loves to fish for Muskies, Northern Pike, Largemouth/Smallmouth Bass and the occasional Walleye (in no particular order). A person who loves to see others succeed, he's an educator while on the water and when he's not teaching you something, he'll regale you with tales of adventures and mis-adventures gleaned from his years on the water. If you liked this article, you can check out Steve's web site at
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