Dick Pinney's Guidelines: Hooked on dog days of summer
It's been the steady advancement in deep water fishing gear and electronic technology that has inspired a lot of dedicated lake fishermen to eagerly await this mid-summer fishing as being some of the best of the year.
Downriggers, leadcore line and wire line have been around for many years, but it was only until the advent of very sensitive electronic devices that made it apparent that the game fish are very much active, but the time and depth that this activity occurs is key.
The thermocline is where the density of cool water meets with the lighter warm surface water and causes a type of barrier for small organisms such as plankton that baitfish feed on that are coldwater oriented. The concentration of baitfish is an easy target for trout and salmon. But this situation dissolves as the sun rises enough to drive the light-sensitive plankton into the depths that are just too cold for the baitfish to sustain their feeding and thus the gamefish will scatter and go off the feed.
In order to get in on this gamefish feeding spree, you have to be on the water well before sunrise. You need a sensitive enough depthfinder/fishfinder to see at what depth the concentration of plankton and the baitfish is located. Smart anglers will then set a spread of lures or sewed-on baitfish to bracket this level by using downriggers or a spread of leadcore lines or even wire line, with many using a combination of these methods to find out what is working best.
Landlocked salmon and rainbow trout can swim up several feet in the blink of an eye so lures or bait being trolled above the thermocline will often produce just as many hits as those working in or below this depth. Each day can be different, so the better anglers are quick to change tactics as a pattern emerges.
The salmon and rainbow trout will most always be in the top few feet above the thermocline. Lake trout will be caught at that same depth but if you want to target them, deeper lines will outperform the more shallow lines.
Catch and release anglers should note that gamefish pulled up out of coldwater into the warmer surface waters should be handled with care and released as quickly as possible. One way to accomplish this is to change out your lures treble hooks and use one single hook. Pinched barbs may lessen your fish landing percentage but are a joy to use when releasing a fish and cause a lot less trauma.
When you notice that the thick line marking on your depthfinder that is the thermocline is starting to disintegrate, that is a sign that your fishing activity is going to do the same. The plankton will drop towards the bottom, the baitfish will spread out and the concentration of gamefish will also spread out and often just go off the feed.
Most of the best fishermen will call it a day when this happens, saving their energy for the next morning's early bite. But if you want to stretch out your fishing day turn your attention to smallmouth bass or schools of white perch that will continue to feed in the shallower and warmer water. Whatever your choice, once you've experienced these “dog days of summer” incredible mornings, you'll be hooked for life. And my thanks go to Alan Nute for introducing me to this incredible fishing action.
Dick Pinney's column appears weekly in the New Hampshire Sunday News. Email him at DoDuckInn@aol.com.
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