By Steve Carney
Right now, in mid-August, the midlake flats on many lakes are where the action can be found.
Flats are a generic term for midlake structure that has some sort of weed growth or other form of cover. Think of a flat as an overturned cake pan. There is a top, a side edge, and the surrounding bottom.
Here’s a primer on how I go about tackling an August flat by keying in on the three zones.
Top of the flat: Zone 1
The top of the flat is the first zone I check on every flat. The top is where the lion’s share of the fishing action takes place, because all game fish roam the top of the flat when they’re on the feed.
The most active fish will be on the top, especially during low-light hours such as at dawn and dusk.
Slowly retrieved crankbaits work best in catching those active fish in a hurry, and they cover the top of the flat in a relatively short amount of time. A bobber rig can also be effective if you have the fish pinpointed on the crest of the flat.
The edge: Zone 2
The edge of the flat is where you can catch semi-neutral walleyes, pike, crappies, and bass, because they tend to loaf on the edges before heading to the top of the flat. Fishing the flat edges requires expert boat control to hold to that edge.
If you catch a fish at 14 feet on the edge, stay at 14 feet. Working the edge takes patience and experience. Newcomers always make the mistake of drifting or trolling off the edge and not fishing at the proper depth.
Pitching a jig or back-trolling live bait is a perfect presentation for edge-related game fish. Those anglers who can control their boat the best will catch the most fish.
The bottom: Zone 3
Zone 3 fish inhabit the base of the flat and can be difficult to catch under most conditions. They are the loafing and relaxing fish that will eventually move up on top of the flat when they’re good and ready.
Sunny days will often keep active fish on the bottom, whereas cloudy days will make them rise to the top. A decent wind always helps to get fish to rise up.
Midlake flats are hot right now, and crappies especially are easy to target by fishing the three zones.