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COMMENTS BY KIM: Try new fishing techniques

Different species, places

You can never learn everything about the fish you like to catch, but you can do some things to make you a better overall angler. Why not pursue a different species of fish and learn some new techniques? Maybe go where you’ve never fished before. Up for the challenge?

While there’s nothing wrong with chasing after a favorite fish, which is usually walleye in North Dakota, there’s other species out there too – smallmouth bass, largemouth bass, white bass, northern pike, muskie, bluegill, and crappie come to mind.

Catching them with regularity, not just incidental when fishing for something else, requires a change in tactics and presentations. It can even be used as an excuse to buy some new fishing tackle, and what fishermen doesn’t enjoy a trip to the tackle store?

Okay. New fishing gear is not always mandatory. Many species of fish can be caught on on a favorite rod and reel without the necessity of purchasing new equipment. Of course, the more a person targets a particular fish the more that will be learned about rod, reel, lure, and line preference. That’s true for any type of fishing.

I’m guessing most anglers can get by with equipment they already own when choosing to target a fish other than their favorite, certainly you can “run what you brung” and give it a go. You may be rewarded for your efforts quicker than you think.

There’s another way to increase your fishing knowledge too, and that’s to fish new areas. It can be as simple as trying one or two new fishing spots each time you are on the water, no matter what fish you are targeting. If you fish 20 times a year you can easily add knowledge of 20-40 new spots and maybe add a few of them to your preferred destinations.

Another idea for the angler looking to expand his or her horizons a bit is changing how you fish. Don’t get locked into a single method. Experiment. You just might discover a new and successful was to fish when your favorite way isn’t working.

Fish can be caught from the bottom to the top of the water column, depending on the conditions and species. A favorite presentation of mine is topwater lures. My experience is that topwater won’t do for walleye, but I think I’ve caught almost every other species that swims in North Dakota on topwater lures, including catfish, in both shallow and deep water.

It seems that there’s no end to learning when on the water. One episode that has always stuck with me happened about noon one day. I had been fishing pike during a morning on Lake Sakakawea, having good success and a lot of fun. Then the cloudy skies turned sunny and calm water replaced a light chop. The action stopped completely.

After flailing away for an hour with not so much as a follow, I decided it was a good time to get off the water. However, since it was perfectly calm, I dug into my fishing tackle for a few lures that I wasn’t familiar with. I used the calm conditions to experiment with how to work them. One was a simple frog.

I tossed the frog out and worked it back to the boat – twitching it, walking it, and otherwise seeing what it could do. A practice session before heading back to the dock and calling it a day. When the frog was a few feet away I let it sit on top of the water while I was deciding what other lures I wanted to check out. A large northern pike came into view beneath the frog, very gently opened and closed its mouth on it, and slowly descended out of sight.

The whole thing was in slow motion, and in the same area where the pike had completely shutoff more than an hour earlier. I was in disbelief, but I had learned something about fishing I’d never seen or heard of before. I’ve never tried that tactic again either but, after thinking about it, I probably should have and probably will. Crazy, huh?

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