Bass fishing is finally slowing down. We have all been spoiled by the great fishing all spring and reluctantly realize that it is mid summer and that makes it harder to catch most fish. Unlike most other years there are still some fish being caught every trip. Juvenile smallmouth bass are in the shallows and will provide enough action so that no one gets skunked. There are now days when only a handful of fish are caught and also some magic moments during feeding periods when many fish are caught in a short time.
But, do not despair, when the lake level stabilizes bass will quit moving so much and become more predictable. Bass fishing in July will only be fair but in August there will be a return to good smallmouth fishing.
Striped bass and catfish are the best bet now. Time to thaw that package of anchovies that has been in the freezer since 1996 and take it to the main channel or midway back in major canyons. Stripers will often congregate over isolated structure in otherwise deep water. Look for an isolated rock pile or ledge the breaks up a long steep cliff face. Graph the area for bait fish or schools of stripers. When fish are printed, cut up 5 or 6 anchovies in small pieces and chuck them in the water all around the boat. Then put about a third of an anchovy on a No. 4 bait hook and suspend the bait at the depth the fish are showing on the graph. It works well to have one bait weighted so that it descends quickly to the desired depth. Then put another bait out that is unweighted and very slowly descends to fishing depth. The chum should start the striper school biting within the 5 minutes it takes for the bait to settle. If nothing happens try another spot until a cooperative school is located.
Shad are getting scarce now and 8 inch stripers are common. Do not be surprised to find a few big stripers mixed in and feeding on the diminutive stripers. Do not give up too quickly if only small fish start biting. The next fish caught could be a lunker. Each one of the small stripers harvested makes it that much better for the remaining fish to be able to survive on the finite shad forage base. Good fishing in the future depends on harvesting as many small stripers as possible right now.
Catfish are found on sandy beaches near camp. The regular smelly baits like anchovies and chicken liver work well, but a real killer combination is to put live nightcrawler on the same hook with the smelly bait. Catfish can't turn down smorgasbord.