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Use Fish WebCams for Better Fishing

Use Fish WebCams for Better Fishing

How to Use Fish WebCams to Become a Better Fisherman

Use Fish WebCams By Debbie Kay

Fishcams are an incredibly fun way to discover local fish in their native habitat.  They can be found along manmade fish passages, in hatcheries, and along piers (like below the Seattle Aquarium).  The videos can be a calming backdrop in a room, a fun novelty to watch and even a way to learn more about fish behavior.  Knowledge like this allows you to test some theories and help you to become a better fisher as a result.  Here are some things to observe that can help up your fishing game:

Fish Species Which Live Together

Every fisherman has his favorite species.  If you are a purist, maybe that’s all you will catch.  If you’re more interested in coming home with something, however, then it pays to understand which species comprise plan B.  Fish cams will show you which species live in the same waters, and more specifically, where in the water column and vegetation they might spend their time.   This is also great research if you’re about to take a destination fishing trip to somewhere like Alaska.

Feeding Times

Hatcheries typically have feeding schedules.  If they are the same year after year, then the released hatchery fish may follow similar feeding schedules long after release.  If you know you’re catching stocked fish, keep these times in mind for a higher bite rate.  Wild cameras can give you an idea whether fish are mainly evening, midday or daytime eaters.

Weather-Dependent Behavior

What do your target species do when it’s sunny?  Windy?  Icy?  Stormy?  Knowing this can help you to make some smart decisions about fishing time and how best to approach a fish to catch during different types of weather.

Testing Behavior Based on Other Conditions

Do you have a theory on how fish react during different situations?  Perhaps solstices, equinoxes, moon phases or other celestial events might change things.  Tidal heights in a saltwater fish pen can influence feeding schedules, etc.  Or maybe you have your own, secret belief on how fish behave in a certain situation. Use fish WebCams to remotely track this and to watch behavior as temperature, time of day, celestial events and other issues occur.  To test this scientifically, then choose different times based on your theory, and take notes on how the fish are acting.  Then choose times that are not when you suspect they will act a certain way and watch and take notes once again.  If you’re right, a pattern may emerge that can give you a huge advantage the next time you fish.

Use Fish Cams Available Online

There are dozens of fish cams throughout the US that comprise different species.  Here are some links to some of the different choices:

Wolf Creek National Hatchery Fish Cam

Washington State Salmon Cam

Bonneville Dam Fish Cam

Cowlitz River Web Cam

Wolf Lake Fish Cam

Monterey Bay Aquarium Cams

Tropical Reef Cams

Port of Ilwaco Cam

Animal Planet Pacific Reef Cam

Mendenhall Forest Service Fish Cam

Alaska Fish Cam

 

 

Hatcheries Stocking Alligator Gar to Combat Carp

Illinois Hatcheries Stocking Alligator Gar to Combat Carp by Debbie Kay

The state of Illinois has a monster carp problem.  What better way to fight a monster than with a bigger monster?  So goes the logic, as the state’s hatcheries gear up to begin stocking alligator gar in many of the state’s rivers that have invasive fish problems.  Though the fish are native to Illinois, they have not been seen in the state’s waters since 1966.  Their return is hoped not only to curb the growing carp population with one of the few native predators, but to return a major trophy fish to Illinois waters.

About Alligator Gar

Alligator gar are one of the most ancient species still living today, with fossil records of these fish dating back to over 100 million years ago.   They can grow up to ten feet long and weigh up to 300lbs.  From the 1930’s to the 1980’s, they were considered “trash fish” and a detriment to sport fishing.  They are known as stalking predators, and will target large fish, small mammals and waterfowl.  They were targeted for extermination in many waters of the US and Mexico during this period.  When better knowledge of the interaction of ecosystems came in the 80’s, the emphasis went from extermination to protection and reintroduction.  Today, many states have an alligator gar fishery.

Reintroduction into Illinois

Illinois has waters that run into two massive interstate watersheds.  Some waters run toward Lake Michigan and into the Great Lakes waterway, while others head toward the mighty Mississippi.  There is a large pool of federal funding money that has been set aside to deal with the scourge of Asian Carp as it quickly repopulates through the area.  The gar reintroduction program is using that funding to help deal with this issue.  As a bonus, hatcheries stocking alligator gar will serve as a large trophy fish that can bring state revenue through fish endorsement licenses and tourism dollars.

Will it Work?

The gar is not a complete solution to the carp problem.  Population-wise, the carp outnumber the gar by a massive amount.  The largest carp are too large to be swallowed by the narrow-throated gar.  Also, populations of gar will not breed until they reach sexual maturity at age 11, while carp begin reproducing at age 3.  This means that they can take a small portion of the population, but they will never be the main control mechanism for these fish.  However, after several years, once they have firmly reestablished their numbers, the gar can be a preventative measure in areas without Asian carp if smaller, younger fish try and expand their territory.  Instead, netting and fish kills seems to be the only way to keep this majorly invasive fish species at bay.

When Will Gar Reintroduction Begin?

The hatcheries stocking alligator gar program has been approved since 2010, but funding has only recently been secured.  Hatcheries are prepping to begin grow-out and release as early as next year.  From there, Illinois will need to decide how to handle fishing seasons for this once extinct species.

Fall Bass Fishing Techniques and Tips

Fall Bass Fishing by Sean Obrien

Along with the trout fishing in the fall, the bass fishing really begins to pick up as the season’s change.  There are a lot of factors involved in this, some of which include time of day, weather, water temperature, and perhaps most importantly, baitfish.  Bass fishing techniques change with the seasons, and we will detail some fall and colder water temperature tactics that can increase your fall bass fishing ability.

As the hot summer months begin to cool down, the water temperature begins to drop.  This creates a situation where the bass begin to come fish will begin to chase more, and they can use this to their advantage.  Another additionally factor the colder water temperature brings is the fish closer to the shore, as the shallow water is usually warmer.  The baitfish also congregate in the shallows, feasting on the algae that is ever present in most freshwater ponds and lakes. Baitfish school up in the fall, which makes it easier for the bass to grab mouthfuls of them, and allows the angler to follow the baitfish to  the bass.  Throw whatever you are fishing with into schools of baitfish, or where you think the baitfish are, and you will more often than not get hit. Another gauge of where the fish may be is the appearance of birds – they tend to congregate and feed on the baitfish as well.  Keep aware and hit the spots that appear to have these activities occurring and you will be well on your way to cleaning up with your fall bass fishing  catch.

It is more important than at any other point in any season that the angler learns to read the water of whatever area he is fishing.  In the afternoon, when the water is calm and glassy, topwater lures will attract action, as the more aggressive fish will come up to strike.  Not much better than to get a topwater strike of a big bass when the water is calm and clear.  You can still throw your worms out at structures and probably get a bite, as the more aggressive and active bass will be hitting everything. Another spot to look at is creek entries into the lake or pond, as this is where the baitfish will run, and the bass will follow.  These spots are perfect for experimenting with all kinds of different lures and really determining what works and what doesn’t.

Sometimes, what has worked in a particular spot in the spring will continue to work in the fall, but for the most part, switching it up will always be recommended.  By the fall, these fish have seen a ton of bait, and being a little different could get a hit when nothing else is working.  Throw everything you can and utilize the entire water column in your pursuit of fall bass.  As the days get shorter and colder, enjoy every second that you can outdoors and throwing lures, because when the snow piles up you will be wishing you had these opportunities.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Salmon Fly Fishing for the East Coast

Salmon Fly Fishing by Sean Obrien

Some of the best salmon fly fishing in the United States is relatively tough to get to by normal standards.  Two places that come to mind almost immediately are The great Northwest, and Alaska.  There are naturally many other areas in the USA as well, but those are two of the best in the world.  A little bit closer to home for those of us on the East Coast would be ideal for that fall salmon fly fishing trip.   Perhaps the best spot on this half of the United States is Pulaski, NY.  This small sleepy town in Oswego County has a population of 2,365 as of the 2010 census.  But it also has a 2 month period in September and October where the Coho and King salmon are spawning, and the fly fishing is absolutely insane.  The aptly named Salmon River is home to some of the best salmon fishing anywhere, and definitely the best on or near the eastern half of the USA. .

Anglers line up shoulder to shoulder for the opportunity to catch a coho or king salmon as they make their annual run up the river.  The fish seem to mill around the estuary, and then race up the river in spurts. Some of the fish can be in excess of 40 pounds and will put up a hell of a fight. One of the best methods is to use salmon eggs, because the fish are going upstream to spawn.  If they see a random egg floating in the water the natural instinct is to grab it and hold it in their mouth, which will lead to a hook set.  Hopefully.  The fish are not as aggressive in Pulaski as you would think, but there are spurts where you can barely see the river bottom because of all the salmon. These groupings of fish occur as they swim upriver from the estuary where Lake Ontario meets New York.  The king and coho salmon are not native to the area, but have thrived since their introduction into the ecosystem in the 1960’s. Now, there is a huge game fish population in this area, and the trout and salmon, as well as smallmouth bass make this a great destination for a Salmon Fly Fishing trip.

The only method of fishing that is banned on the Salmon River is snagging, because at certain points in the day, the fish are so plentiful running upstream that you can throw a treble hook of any bare hook and rip it through the water and you would probably snag something.  There is also a requirement on the way weights are tied to lines, as the authorities do not allow a sliding weight, so there is no chance of it dropping to the hook and allowing you to snag easier.  That said, the typical setup is a small weight about 48” from the hook, rigged with  a salmon egg.

There are a ton of essential items to insure safety in the cold water streams in late September and early October.  The most essential is a pair of insulated waders, as you will be spending quite a bit  of time in knee to waist deep water, and it is not warm.  Gloves, and any and all other cold weather essentials will be a benefit out here.  It is also recommended that the anglers wear studded or cleated shoes to avoid slipping and falling in the river.  Polarized sunglasses are also a must, as when the river is clear, you will be able to sight fish and pick your spots.

Although spinning rods continue to dominate the day, fly fishing has been a growing segment of the angler population on the Salmon River.  Drifting streamers and egg patterns down the river during a run will inevitably lead to a hook up with some monster fish.  As you see them darting up the river in the clear water, you feel like you can dive in and bare hand them.  We will take a look at techniques and tips for both spinning and fly fishing for these monsters next, so be sure to check back with us for all your salmon fly fishing information.

 

 

 

 

 

Five Great Bass Lures for Fall

As the Waters Start to Cool, the Fishing Starts to Heat-up.

Great Bass Lures By Ben Team

After months spent trying to tempt stubborn summer bass into biting, the arrival of fall is well-received by most southern anglers. Whereas summer bass are content to keep a low profile and snatch up just enough food to remain healthy, autumn bass chase baitfish like it’s their last day on Earth.

Abandoning their finicky ways, fall bass begin feeding heavily in order to put on extra reserves to sustain them through the long, cold winter, when food is scarce and difficult to catch. Fish represent the most attractive food source for bass at this time, and a variety of minnow- or panfish-imitating lures work well for slaying salmoides.

Five Great Bass Lures

1.    Spinnerbaits

Spinnerbaits work in most water conditions and through most seasons, but they are especially effective in the autumn, when bass are actively chasing fish. The flash and vibration created by the spinning blades is simply irresistible for many bass and strikes often come in bunches.

Because you can fish them just under the surface or roll them along the bottom at a variety of speeds, spinnerbaits are great bass lures to use when trying to discern the best pattern for the day. Try a variety of speeds, cadences, depths and color combinations until you hit on the flavor of the day.

2.    Swimbaits

Few lures can match the lifelike movement of a quality paddle-tail swimbait, and few times of the year are better suited to their use than fall. “Match the hatch” when selecting a color and size, but don’t be afraid to add a little more color to the lure when working in low-visibility ponds and lakes.

A straight retrieve is often the most effective approach, but you can also use a vertical presentation to target isolated cover. If you rig the bait with a jig-head, it will drop in a nose-down manner; if you rig it with a weighted swimbait hook, it will tend to fall while sitting horizontally.

If you are looking to land a leviathan-sized fish, larger, joint-bodied swimbaits can also be effective during this time of year.

3.    Crankbaits

A variety of crankbait styles, sizes and colors work in the fall, but the wide, erratic wobble of a square billed crankbait is often the best bet. Rattling, lipless styles are also effective, particularly if the water is muddy, and you need some help attracting bass through the soup.

If you’ve been using deep-diving models to target bass in the Summer, consider switching to shallower-diving models as the weather cools. Because shad tend to move out of the main lake or channel and back into the feeder creeks and rivers, you should concentrate working such areas.

4.    Buzz Baits

The dropping water temperatures and shifting feeding habits of fall largemouth often combine to improve the surface bite, which is often tentative at best during the summer heat. Bluegill and shad color schemes work most effectively in clear or stained waters, whereas the superior silhouette provided by dark blue or black models provides the bass with a good target in muddy water.

Experiment with the speed of your retrieve when trying to pattern the fish. If you are having trouble keeping the lure at the surface while retrieving it slowly, experiment with different trailers. Bulky trailers create more resistance (drag) and the added plastic helps to increase the lures buoyancy.

5.    Swim Jigs

Most jig designs – casting, flipping, football and finesse – work for catching fall bass (when don’t jigs work?), but given their tendency to feast upon fish at this time, swim jigs are definitely worthy of special consideration. Swim jigs feature slightly “pinched” or cone-shaped noses, they have thinner weed guards and they are often constructed to produce a slightly subtler profile than other jigs do – all of which help to better mimic a baitfish or bluegill.

Standard jig colors – black, blue and combinations thereof – work, but try to mimic whatever species the bass are chasing if these old standbys don’t elicit strikes. Pumpkinseed, watermelon and bluegill patterns are great if the bass are chasing panfish, while whites, grays, silvers and blues help to mimic shad.

Try out some of these great bass lures over the next few weeks and let us know how they work for you. Did we leave anything off the list? Let us know in the comments below. We’d also love to see what you’ve landed lately, so tweet us (or me) your best catch photos!

 

 

Other Fishing Articles You Might Enjoy

Three Best Lures for Bass Fishing Beginners Bass Fishing Beginners by Ben Team Because bass fishing is a wonderful hobby and we all benefit from greater interest in the activity, you should a...
Kayak River Fishing is a World of its Own Kayak River Fishing By Sean O'Brien Kayak river fishing is a world of its own, requiring a large, specialized skill set to cope with the constant c...
Five Washington Reservoirs – Five Types of F... No matter what you are searching for…you are likely to find it at a Washington reservoir By Jai Colvin Washington Reservoir fishing is a different...
Oregon Warm Water Fishing Oregon Warm Water Fishing By Jai Colvin Warm Water fishing…as much as we love fishing trout and steelhead, many anglers will tell you there ain’t ...
Tactics for Pressured Pond Bass Stealth along the Shore: Covert Tactics for Pressured Pond Bass By Ben Team If you're after wary pond bass, you had better be sneakier than they a...