Fishing the Midwest
The Open Water Fishing Season for the year 2020 is over for this angler. I don’t get out as late in the year or as much during the year as I used to, but I still get after the fish as often as possible and certainly communicate with anglers a good amount. Following are some comments and observations about fishing Open Water 2020.
Most will agree that 2020 has been an unusual and challenging year in many ways. Most will agree that we don’t need this much unusual or challenging. According to the people who study such things, the turkey population in Iowa was down this year, but the spring turkey harvest was up. Hunters were able to hunt more because they were working less. A similar message has been circulating among anglers. More people fishing more days, more fish being harvested. I’m all for more people going fishing and I certainly understand and support keeping some fish for the table, but it will be interesting to see if the increased harvest has an impact on fish populations and dynamics in a couple of years. However, for the most part, the fisheries people are very good at what they do. They’re probably already on top of this possibility.
I’m seeing and hearing more and more about our bodies of waters becoming more diverse when it comes to the fish species that live in those waters. Lakes that were not-so-long ago mostly walleye lakes are now revealing large populations of smallmouth bass or muskies. Along that same line, lakes that were not-so-long ago mostly bullhead lakes are now home to very good populations of walleyes or largemouth bass. Most, not all, but most anglers understand that on the days when the walleyes aren’t aggressive, they can switch tactics and location on a lake and probably get some bass action. That’s a win: It’s more fun to catch a few bass than not catch any walleyes.
That’s not to say there aren’t problems in some places. Over-harvest can and will goof up a good thing, and we need to be aware of that. In some places, panfish sizes are down due to anglers keeping too many big ones in the not-so-distant past. Same thing with northern pike in some places. It’s okay to keep some fish, just understand which ones are the right ones to keep on the body of water that you’re fishing.
Fishing techniques continue to evolve and improve. Planer boards just a few years ago were tools primarily for salmon, trout, and walleyes. In just the past couple of years we’ve experienced outstanding results using boards for perch and crappies. Boards really will put more fish in the boat, and the folks at Off Shore Tackle recognized this a long time ago. That’s why they continually tweak their boards for specific applications. Just when we think boards are as good as they’re going to get, they get better.
Improvements and tweaking apply to pretty much all of the equipment that we use. If one was to compare a fishing rod today to a similar priced rod of a few years ago, today’s rods are a much better value.
Sonar continues to reveal more and better detail, and the mapping incorporated into today’s sonar is incredibly helpful in catching fish and navigating.
Lures, lines, boats and motors also continue to improve, as does the clothing that keeps us warm and dry on the water.
So, for me, that’s a wrap on Open Water 2020. I so hope that Open Water 2021 is less unusual and less challenging than 2020.
It’s time to get ready to go ice-fishing.