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Dick Ellis Blog:
10/9/2019
Fall brings with it something for everyone in the field from the angler to the hunter.  Just a few recent sessions of shooting the bull tell me that autumn is for the youngest of outdoorsman just learning the games to those of us more seasoned with our eyes focused dead ahead on for example, the whitetail rut. James Wallace captured this great buck on trail camera during summer scouting. James Wallace, my nephew-in-law (is there such a ...
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HIGH WATER BASSIN

On Wisconsin Outdoors

The boat sat on top of a mass of weeds. In front of us was a strip of open water which overflowed the banks of this small lake, flooding the brush. My grandson, Max flipped a plastic worm into the small ribbon of open water. As his bait sunk the line twitched and Max pulled back to set the hook. 

The water exploded and then the fish dove for the bottom. Max pulled back again on his spinning rod forcing the fish back to the surface. The fish put up a hard charging fight but within a couple moments Max dragged the fish over the weeds towards the boat. 

He hoisted the fish into the boat, grabbed and held it up for me to see. It was fourteen inch largemouth bass. “Nice fish,” I said as Max twisted the hook out of the fish and lowered it back in the water. 

It was a hot, sunny summer day. My seventeen year old grandson Max Hein and I were fishing four ponds or small lakes, in northwestern Wisconsin, linked together by a short break in the shore allowing a boat to drift from one lake to the other. 

We started the day fishing the outside of a heavy bank of weeds where the bottom of the lake dropped off into deeper water. That was where I expected to find the fish on such a sunny day. We fished about a hundred yards of water and hadn’t had a strike. 

“The fish have to be somewhere,” I told Max as I turned the boat around trolling back along the weeds. “If they aren’t in deep, open water, perhaps they will be in flooded, shallow water close to the brush.” 

We were in the first and largest of the lakes. I moved the boat over the top of the weeds so we could fish the water in back which was shallow water tight to the flooded brush on the bank. Within the first four or five casts I caught a nice bass and a couple casts later Max caught his first fish. That was all it took for us to realized regardless of how hot and sunny the day was, bass were in relatively high, shallow water tight to the flooded brush which once was shoreline. 

On Wisconsin Outdoors

Bass will be found in high water close to cover such as flooded brush. 

THIS SEASONS HIGH WATER

This high water was the product of an extremely wet and stormy spring and early summer we are having. Farmers throughout the mid west are scrambling to get their crops planted between the storms. Most rivers and streams were flooded. The St. Croix River in my hometown of Hudson has been flooded since spring. As I am writing this story in mid July the public landing in Hudson on the river has water in the parking area, preventing the town from setting out docks at the landing and closing the launch.

All this rain and water has had one positive affect and that has been on the lakes. Several lakes I fish in northwestern Wisconsin are higher than I have seen them in years. 
This little chain of ponds or small lakes Max and I were fishing was no exception. I never saw the water this high before in this lake and obviously this is a good thing for the fish.

We trolled through the passage from the first to the second pond. We continued working along the north shore of the pond and steadily were getting strikes and fish. All the fish were tight to the shore in areas with high water or in the weeds close to the bank. 

There was an opening about four feet around in the weeds and I dropped my sinking plastic worm in the middle of it. I watched as the worm started to slowly sink. The water was clear, despite the high water, and as it dropped about a foot under the surface I saw a shadow rise up to it. It inhaled the worm and the fish slowly moved off as I set the hook. 

On Wisconsin Outdoors

Sinking plastic worms rigged wacky style are ideal for bass in high water.

The fish flashed silver in the water, diving for the weeds as I furiously cranked on the reel to keep the fish out of the weeds. I yanked the fish to the surface and pulled it through the weeds before it got the chance to get any deeper in the weeds. 

The fish was splashing next to the boat when I reached over and pulled it in. The fish was only a foot long but it fought a lot harder than its size. I’m not sure why, perhaps the clear water is cooler, but it seems these fish fight considerably harder in this high water. 

There might be several baits which might work well in these tight spots in shallow water but the one my grandson and I were using was sinking plastic worms. The fish hit them readily and we caught lots of fish with them.

HOW TO FISH HIGH WATER

I use a five inch sinking plastic worm rigged wacky style with the hook inserted through the middle of the worm. Without any additional weight the worm sinks slowly with a back and forth movement bass can’t resist. 

I am not sure color is all that important in plastic worms since fish in tight places have such a brief opportunity to hit their target. I think they hit out of instinct rather than any deliberate attack. With that being said my favorite color for sinking worms is a watermelon candy but whatever other colors are your favorite should work just as well. 

We found the bass in the ribbons of water close to the flooded brush. As well any open pocket or hole in the weeds also was a prime target for bass. Weed cover or flooded brush and grasses are the primary cover for fish in high water. 

By late afternoon, Max and I fished the first three connected ponds. We caught fish in all three ponds and after about four hours of fishing we caught and released over three dozen fish. The vast majority of our fish were from a foot to sixteen inches in length. 

On Wisconsin Outdoors

The author's grandson, Max Hein with a bass caught on a series fo ponds with high water flooding the banks. 

High water is reality in many lakes in northwestern Wisconsin for the rest of this season. Look for bass close to cover or actually in the cover to find the best action on high water lakes. 

EDITORS NOTE: Mike Yurk’s column is sponsored by Warner’s Dock in New Richmond, Wisconsin. Warner’s Dock is the premier marine dealer in northwestern Wisconsin. They have a complete supply of new and used boats, motors, and trailers as well as other marine supplies plus a complete maintenance staff for all your boating needs. They can be contacted through their website at www.warnersdock.com or by telephone at 1-888-222-3625.