I love fish finders. Watching the finder as I explore lakes and reservoirs in search of fish is one of the true joys of fishing. And, when you find fish, to be able to figure out what species are below your boat, and then drop down a lure and catch them is a huge reason I fish.
Over the past week, I have fished five days and didn’t make a single cast. I have been watching my finders, dropping straight down under the boat with either a drop shot rig or as the title of this columns suggests, jigging spoons.
It is possible to dial in your fish finder to be able to see your line and your lure as it heads to the bottom. This means that if there were specific fish marked in the water column, you would be able to see your lure in relation to the fish marked and literally put your lure right in their faces. If you have ever played fishing video games, you might understand how close spooning is to some of those games.
This past week, I targeted deep smallmouth bass, on one evening, but the rest of the time I targeted kokanee salmon (the season closed Sept. 7), and rainbow trout. The photo for today’s column is a screen shot of my finder while a school kokanee salmon moved under the boat. The cool thing about the photo is that over the course of several hours, schools like that one passed under the boat at least a dozen times.
When schools pass by, I dropped down right in the middle of the school and began jigging my lure up, then letting it fall back down on a totally slack line. Then, I would lift the rod tip just enough to feel the lure and then repeat the action over and over again. This is exactly what I do in the wintertime on Lake Powell when jigging for stripers, crappie, or even walleyes or bass.
The only difference is that at Lake Powell, I try to locate schools of baitfish on the finders rather than specific predator fish, but that single difference is palpable. It is a given that when baitfish show up on the finder at Lake Powell, predator species won’t be far away. The shear size of the schools of baitfish, though, can hide the predators that might be underneath 20 feet or more of solid baitfish.
So, imagine you are on your favorite reservoir watching your finder and you see a school of baitfish surrounded by larger, individual fish. If your finder is tuned correctly, you would be able to drop your lure down and literally drag it right to a waiting fish. If the fish responds you set the hook reel in the fish and know exactly what they want to eat. Then, as they say in shampoo term, “rinse and repeat.”
I learned some interesting things this week about the fish I caught. One, kokanee salmon, like so many other species, don’t really bite aggressively when they are headed to their spawning waters. In fact, it can be a little frustrating to jig over and over through a school and not get a single reaction.
On the other hand, while getting no response to the kokanee at times, I learned that rainbows in the immediate vicinity were more than willing to latch onto the jig for a ride up to the boat. Though I release most of the fish, one seven-pound rainbow (that looked and felt like a king salmon coming up from the depths) made it into my refrigerator for Sunday dinner.
I was mesmerized watching the screen of my finder and at times lost all awareness of conditions around my boat. With my eyes glued to the screen I totally missed a few boats that crept in close to see what I was doing.
Video game spooning just might get some of my grandchildren off their tablets and outside. At least it’s worth a try.