By Tony Peterson
Last week I made the mistake of thinking I might catch some of the all-day, productive fishing that we’ve had since the water warmed in May. As my boat rocked in the wakes of nonstop recreational boats, I realized that the moment had passed and that it was time to start rising before the sun.
That’s a sacrifice worth making for the quality fishing that exists when the sun is just breaching the horizon and the jet ski and wake boat owners remain snoring away for a few hours. Not only do most fish feed heavily in low-light situations, but I honestly think boat traffic puts down the bite as well, whether you’re in it for walleyes, bass, or something else.
This is one of the reasons we start to hear (and maybe make) excuses on why the fishing has slowed down so much as summer progresses. If you sleep in and hit the water when the sun is high in the sky and the water-based activity is starting to ratchet up, you probably believe that. But there is a window of opportunity at sunrise that offers up the best fishing of the day (better than the condensed window in the evening).
Now, if you’re fishing moving water or as low, grey skies move in, you might get lucky and have more consistent all-day action, but those bluebird days on most lakes aren’t going to reward you for fishing during bankers’ hours.
The early alarms, as I teach my daughters each summer, are a sacrifice worth making. Not only does a school of topwater-eager smallies at sunrise wake you up in a hurry, but it’s also a lesson that doing what most others won’t allows you to experience the best parts of the outdoors. This might seem like a stretch when talking about fishing as opposed to elk hunting, but the same rules apply. Those willing to do a little more, or operate a bit differently, often can be rewarded.
You can, too. It just might take some extra coffee and a willingness to get the boat on the water four hours before everyone else.