FLW Outdoors Fishing Report (May 13): How fish adapt to flooding

May 13, 2011

Murray, KY – It's time for our weekly glimpse at what's happening in and on our lakes. This week we'll learn about how flooding has made it possible to catch some fish where it's usually dry ground.

Scott Ellison here with the FLW Outdoors Weekly Fishing Report

Kentucky Lake got about 13 feet over its normal pool before cresting last week, but it's supposed to fall about a foot a day now. Shellcrackers and especially bluegills have really been biting well even with the high water. In fact, the high water is making the fishing better. What was happening through last weekend was that bluegills were roaming up into flooded waterfront yards and hunting for earthworms. The worms have been coming up out of the ground and attempting to get out of the water, just like they do when it rains hard on your front yard. You can fish from the bank, or fish from a boat, but this floodwater fishing is going to stay good as long as the water doesn't fall too fast. It's not just in waterfront yards, either. Anywhere there is park land or pasture land that's flooded, you're likely to find bluegills and shellcrackers. To catch them, use a spincast or spinning outfit and slide a flourescent orange or green bead on the line. Then tie a no. 8 or maybe even a bigger no. 6 long-shank aberdeen hook to the line with a palomar knot. Leave about 10 inches of line left over. Next, tie a small bell sinker or whatever sinker you've got handy to the end. Bait the hook with a short piece of night crawler or earthwom, cast it out, let it sink and then just slowly drag it across the bottom. When you get a bite, give the fish a moment to get the bait in its mouth and set the hook. That's all there is to it instant fish fry.

Bass fishing also is good throughout the lake system. If you can pitch and flip soft plastics or jigs into flooded shoreline cover, go for it. Otherwise, cast spinnerbaits and medium-diving crankbaits into openings in the cover.

I had a question from a listener last week regarding lure selection for bass. If, say, suspending jerkbaits work for bass in early spring, why don't they work any other time too?

Well, sometimes they do, but how and why we choose certain lures to be effective at certain times of the year depends on what the bass are telling us. In their environment, they expect food to behave a certain way, depending on the time of year and the circumstances. They don't expect crawfish to be swimming around on the surface in the winter, for instance, and anything that looks like that to them in the winter is probably going to be ignored. Conversely, bass don't expect to see fake frogs swimming slowly across the bottom any time of year, though they might really go after them on top in summer weed beds. So part of your job is learning as much as you can about the habits and hangouts of bass, but also about their favorite food, such as shad and crawfish.

Suspending jerkbaits work in early spring because they imitate shad that are stunned by cold water. Bass expect that, and they go hunting for something that looks like a stunned shad. When it comes right down to it, all we're doing as bass fishermen is using lures in the right place at the right time that suggest a seasonal food to bass. Presuming that we're fishing where the fish are, how well we guess what bass want to eat, and how well we present it to them, usually makes all the difference between fishing, and catching.

Hey, if you've got any fishing questions, I'd like to hear from you. Whether your question is about tackle or techniques, get in touch with me at questions@flwoutdoors.com. If I don't know the answer, I'll find somebody who does and get back with you.

Until next week, Scott Ellison of FLW Outdoors signing off.

Scott Ellison is a lifelong fisherman and FLW Outdoors College Fishing Promotions Manager