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Crankbaits and Swimbaits for Early Season Action

Crankbaits and swimbaits can be ideal for early season game fish.

I am not exactly sure when I first started to realize that crankbaits and swimbaits are pretty good lures for early season game fish. What I do know is I never seem to use them often enough.

 If I am going walleye fishing, my favorite early season presentation is definitely a live bait rig and shiner minnow. I have lots of faith in this combination and it usually does not let me down. However, I use the word “usually” because this presentation is not foolproof.

 It was just last spring when I found myself at a loss over what to do next. I had worked several of my early season walleye hangouts with live bait rigs and had yet to boat a walleye or any other fish for that matter. Something was wrong.

 The hours I had available were ticking away and I knew I had to do something different. Instead of continuing to work the depths, I pulled out a box of crankbaits and headed for the shallow food flats.

 Over the years, I have had pretty consistent success working the shallow flats during the low light periods of the day. However, my mid day success has been somewhat limited. Still, if the fish weren’t deep, they had to be somewhere.

 I was only a few casts into the tactic switch when I had my first hit. The fish turned out to be a northern and not a walleye, but I was encouraged and figured the walleye had to be somewhere close by.

 I caught several more northern before I hit my first walleye of the day. It wasn’t a monster but I was moving in the right direction. Crankbaits in the shallows were producing action.

 It was early June and I decided to make a short run to a nearby lake. The weeds were coming up nicely and the bass were moving out of the shallows to some of the mid-depth weed structure. It seemed like a perfect day to experiment with some cast and retrieve lures.

 It was a Mimic Minnow that got the morning started. This swimbait with its paddle tail drew lots of attention. Largemouth bass and northern kept me adequately entertained.

 There are a lot of combinations on the store shelves that will produce action during this early season period. Flicker Shads, Salmo Hornets and Mimic Minnows are some of my favorites.

 Depending on my mood and size of the lure, I will use both baitcasting rigs and spinning reels. Spinning combos are usually hard to beat.

Berkley's Flicker Shad, Salmo's Hornet and Northland's Mimic Minnow are all quality baits for most game fish species.

 Because this shallow presentation attracts a variety of fish species, a person can never be sure what will hit next. For this reason I frequently utilize a short, very lightweight, black steel leader. It doesn’t interfere much with the catching ability of my lures, but it sure does save on losing them to toothy critters.

 The retrieve can also be important. There are times when I will use a straight retrieve, but I usually find myself varying the speed a little. If the weeds aren’t too thick, a dead stop once in a while doesn’t hurt, either.

 Like everyone else, I have my favorite methods and presentations for fishing. However, I keep learning the lesson that crankbaits and swimbaits are effective game fish options that we sometimes forget to use.

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June 23, 2011 - Posted by | Open Water Fishing, Walleye

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