Great fishing right now

Sunday, June 17, 2018
Lance Kooiker (front left) handles the rope as the group takes a break during the morningís fishing.
Photo by Dick Lineweaver

This past week I think I found my own little slice of paradise. You see I was fishing for bluegills on West Okoboji. This is the perfect time to really catch some nice sized fish, since they have been in their spawning mode. This means they are in the shallows (6-10 feet of water), and they are extremely aggressive.

The first trip I took Lance Kooiker, a deputy sheriff from Boone County, the sheriff and two other deputy sheriffs from Boone County. Linda Lineweaver, who is Lanceís mother, and her husband Dick had the ďboysĒ up for a few days at their East Okoboji home. Well, Lance wondered if I would take them out. The answer was a definite yes!

There were six of us on the pontoon (including Dick and myself), but a 23-foot platform is perfect to comfortably fish that many people. They wanted to catch enough fish to have a good fish fry. I had been out a couple of days earlier, so I had a good idea where to start.

Steve Weismanís son with a nice bull bluegill taken June 7. The larger fish were released.
Photo by Steve Weisman

When I fish the shallows like this, I recommend wearing a good pair of sunglasses, so you can see the bottom. If possible, I choose a partly cloudy to mostly sunny day (seems to trigger their aggressiveness and itís easier to see down), and I also like to fish the calm side of the lake. Since the wind was to be out of the southwest peaking at 10-20 mph, I chose to fish the southwest corner of Emerson Bay and on the east side of Eagle Point along Spencer Beach. We found several docks extending out into 7-8 feet of water and located lots of bluegills willing to bite.

Early on, as the bluegills are moving to their spawning areas, all you have to do is get the bait out there under a bobber, say 3-4 feet down. They will readily attack the bait. However, as they move into the spawn, you have to get the bait almost right down on the spawning bed. At that point, I will often get rid of the bobber and cast the jig out so it settles right down near the bottom. Then look for the line to tighten and feel the tick of the bite. When I go to the straightline presentation, I use a Clam Dingle Drop tungsten jig to get it down quickly so that I can avoid the smaller gills.

That being said, our group used all kinds of presentations: straightlining with a hook and splitshot, a slip bobber, a relatively big round bobber and straightlining with just the small tungsten jig. The good news? Everybody caught fish, including some pretty nice largemouth bass!

Bait? Nothing beats a good Belgian worm (also called leaf and red worms). Well, on this trip, we probably caught up to a hundred bluegills, and kept a good mess to clean. Itís just me, but I always throw back the largest females and males with the idea that I might be helping our larger bluegill population.

The boys stayed for another day and fished on their own. Over the two days they caught bluegills, crappies, yellow bass, northern, walleyes (up to 21 3/4 inches), largemouth bass and sheephead. Now thatís quite an assortment.

Trip II

On Thursday, my brother-in-law from South Dakota joined my son and me for a morning fishing bluegills. It brought back a lot of nostalgia for us because when my father-in-law and his two brothers were still alive, they and their families would stay at Triggs Bay Resort this very week. For 30 years, we had some of the best bluegill fishing ó always this week after Memorial Weekend.

So, during our Thursday outing, a lot of the time was spent telling and retelling stories from the past! The three of us having done this for so long, we pretty much worked the spots well together. Again, the pontoon gave us the ability to move from one end to the other with a 23-by-8-foot platform from which to fish.

My guess is we again caught well over 100 fish: bluegills, several yellow bass, a big crappie and a decent perch. Again, we used selective harvest and sent home a limit of bluegills, the yellow bass, crappie and perch with my brother-in-law. Curt and I decided it would be catch and release for us. It was just plain fun catching!

We used both bobbers and straightlined. It really didnít seem to matter. The larger bluegills were 9 inches (we released the larger females and males), the yellow bass 10-12 inches and the crappie nearly 13 inches.

This wonít last much longer; it all depends on the water temperature and how much hot sun we get in the next week. However, once the spawn is over, itís just time to adjust to their movement and follow them toward the deeper developing weedbeds and weedlines.

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