Six or seven years ago, long before lureandfly.com and at the start of my fishing journey, I would religiously fish structure like pontoons and jetties and could fish them all day. I’d throw soft plastics at them and finesse the fish from the structure. On good days, I could look at a bunch of pontoons and pick the ones I’d get a bite or even fish from… Since then, I have discovered the hard body and moved on from that phase of my fishing journey.
In many ways, the bite pattern still applies, I just don’t fish it very often. With no wind and a sunny day, makes fishing difficult. Add to this the attraction for pleasure boaters to utilise the same weather and waterways, means finding areas with little traffic would also mean areas with little natural flow at the back of bays.
During a recent outing with this weather pattern, casting little Austackle Shinkus and Tiemco Stick Minnows was the only way I could get a bite (albeit I only had two bites all day) but goes to show that I can mix my love of hard body lures and finesse fishing into the same day.
Casting my stick bait at the front, sides and back of floating pontoons in 2-4ft of water ensured that I could never cover ground quickly, it wasn’t anywhere near as rapid as a crank bait presentation but after a few hours, I was able to adjust my technique and hone in my casts.
Fishing stick baits like the Shinku and Stick Minnow needs a pretty simple technique, cast (accurately), watch and wait. The first indictor is often the tick in the line as the fish eats the bait, winding up the slack will often result in head shakes from the fish, at this stage it isn’t uncommon for both angler and fish to think “what’s going on?”, with soft hands and a soft rod, you should be able to coax the fish away from any structure and into open water.
This is an aspect that I love about stick baits and crank baits, being able to dictate terms without force and extract fish from cover generally results in massive amounts of concentration and silence (it can be as severe as me stopping mid-word). This is helped by ultra fine trebles, spinning fluorocarbon and my Minn Kota, where the ultra fine trebles find their mark and penetrate easily as the fish will often bite on a slack line. Don’t set the hook or put unnecessary pressure on the fish, as this will alert them to your plans and they’ll make a run (or swim) for cover and the trebles will stay put in the mouth of the fish without the massive heave-ho, Josh describes it really well in his previous write up
Spinning fluorocarbon is also important, it buffers the head shakes or any surges and is much more abrasion resistant than braided lines. I’ve caught fish where up to 10 metres of line has come back a frayed and shredded mess, while if I were fishing with braid, it would have been game over at the first bit of structure. If you’re scared about the breaking strain of spinning fluorocarbon, don’t be. It’s ridiculously strong and throwing stick baits on windless, sunny days means you’ll need the extra stealthy approach that it offers you.
My Minn Kota is pretty much invaluable regardless of the fishing situation, whether it’s chasing down fish, motoring in to retrieve a wayward cast or using it to guide out a fish from cover. Often the first indicator that I’ve hooked up is obviously silence but the boat heading in an obscure direction in an attempt to extract a fish is another good indicator. Not enough emphasis can be placed in having one of these on your boat and using a cable steered version is a must for tight cover.
Tip: If you find yourself on the wrong side of a snag and the fish heading in the opposite direction, free spool and release the pressure. More often than not, the fish will stop dead in it’s tracks, giving you vital seconds to use your Minn Kota to reposition you and the boat to extract the fish. Besides, when it gets to that point, what do you have to lose!