Goshen News, Goshen, IN

June 23, 2013

OUTDOOR COLUMN: Try pattern fishing for more success

By LOUIE STOUT
THE GOSHEN NEWS

GOSHEN — Avid fishermen like to use a term that some anglers don’t quite understand: The pattern.

A “pattern” is proven methodology used to find and catch fish on a specific day. It can be a type of lure, how the lure is worked, depth, or any number of environmental factors. The best pattern is one in which you figure out all of those elements.

It’s like putting together a puzzle. The sooner you get all the pieces in place, the better your success will be on a given day.

It’s a system bass fishermen use but it also can be applied to just about any other kind of fish that lives in our natural lakes.

Although all fish can be difficult to catch, they are predictable in some of their movements and habits, especially after they spawn.    

This time of year, they are motivated by food and comfort, the latter of which can include safety.

They often school by size; there can be multiple patterns ongoing throughout a lake, but there’s usually one or two that produce the bigger fish.

My outing last weekend on an inland lake with buddy Chuck Powell is a good example.

We expected the bass to be along the weedy drop-offs and we were right.

However, as the day progressed, we began to notice that, if we fished a long stretch of drop-offs, the larger fish were positioned at very specific spots.

While we expected the fish to be around underwater points of the weeds, we found them on edges that turned abruptly toward the shore or cut into the point and where schools of bluegill were holding.

We caught a four pounder, a three pounder, a 15-incher and several smaller fish in those specific areas, and the bigger fish came in late morning when most people stopped catching fish shallow. We caught them in about 10 feet of water on jigs and soft plastics.

My point isn’t to boast about our successes – we should have figured it out sooner and done much better – but it demonstrates how patterns come together and can make a difference in the quantity and quality you catch.

We could catch an abundance of smaller fish shallow, but knew the bigger bass were moving into their summer patterns along deeper edges.

A lot of bass fishermen seek the lee side of the lake when it’s windy, but this time of year, the wind is your friend. It pushes plankton (aquatic organisms) against the weed edges and that draws the forage (small bluegill) that feed on it. Bass are there to feed on the gills, using the vegetation as an ambush point.

Every fish we caught had the wind blowing into the spot.

The wind not only stirs the water, it distorts sounds and the surface, which makes bass more aggressive and adventurous.

The absolute worst condition is dead calm on a bright, sunny day.

While bass and bluegill patterns can differ considerably, it’s important to be cognizant of the conditions where you catch quality fish – regardless of what you’re targeting - and the environment in which they were holding. Lure type and color can be important, but only if it best mimics the type of forage the fish are eating in that area.

Behnke tourney

The second annual Bernie Behnke Scholarship tournament will be held Aug. 18 on Coldwater Lake.

Entry fee is $80 and hours are 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. The first 40 teams to pre-register receive a priority starting spot and are eligible for a cash drawing.

For more information, call Lake Drive Marine in Coldwater, 517-238-4651.

Manitou winners

Gary Harrold (Rochester, In.) and son Matt Harrold (Culver) caught five bass weighing 10.17 pounds to win the Hoosier Pro Tournament at Manitou Lake in Rochester, Ind. recently.

The winners also had big bass, a 3.3-pound largemouth. They caught their fish on frog imitators.

Brad and son Shawn Zellers (Winamac, In.) were second with 9.90 pounds while Tim Rasala (Hobart, In.) and Steve Coleman (Whiting, In.) were third with 9.76 pounds.

The next event is July 27 on Winona Lake. Call Mitch for info, 219-716-4808.

Lake Michigan buoy

With today’s goofy weather, you never know what’s happening on Lake Michigan. The weather where you live can be a lot different than what’s going on over there.

Well, a weather station buoy just off Michigan City’s coast can give you a fairly good idea and save you a trip if you’re headed there to fish or go boating.

You can access real-time information at www.iiseagrant.org:81/buoydata/index.html. The site lists information about the wind, wave heights, surface water temperature and more.

It functions 24 hours a day and is updated every 24 hours.

Boat rentals?

We’ve been asking readers to let us know about places on Michiana waters where boats can be rented.     We’ve received one response so far and know there have to be others. If you offer rentals, or know of one, have the proprietor send us an email with the details (price, location, equipment provided).

Contact Louie at stoutoutdoors@comcast.net or visit www.louiestout.com.