When I first started fishing Delavan in 2005 I was quite the rookie. Board member Coyote eventually showed me the ropes for targeting the pike with artificials year round, but initially I was in a stupor for when those big pike seemed to slide off the shallow weeds and disappear. To counter that I did a bunch of sucker fishing which primarily involved finding the weed edge and slowly dragging suckers along it. If I was fortunate enough to run into a heavy pod of panfish along the edge, sometimes multiple rods would go off. One of my best early memories was a triple with my brother in law and nephew. A proud moment for a new boat owner and new guy to the lake.
Eventually I would get into catching the pike different ways. Topwaters, big spinnerbaits, twitch baits, SS Raps, etc. Then the bass fishing took hold and I dropped the sucker fishing completely. It did not help that most of the sucker fishermen were reporting a decline in catches, so it was easy to dismiss it and move on to other techniques.
I recently saw a report on one of the popular fishing sites from a guide claiming to have had a great day sucker fishing out there. Chasing reports is not my thing, but it peeked my interest in giving the technique another try. Essentially it is similar to how I fish big Fall smallies on Geneva, just some bigger baits and beefier tackle.
Monday I set out with 2 dozen suckers to give it a go. I got on the lake almost 2 hours later then I usually would in the summer and I was digging the extra sleep. On my first spot I tried a sharp drop off a point and got 1 mid 20's pike. Next spot a smallie, largie, and a few more pike. I continued to slide down a well known spot and noticed lots of pan fishermen on the inside weeds. Well that was the spot. I ended up putting 3 waypoints down and the 2 dozen suckers were gone in less then 2 hours. It is comical to get a double and be holding one rod between my legs while fighting another fish. To make matters worse I forgot the net. I went back and got 2 dozen more and an hour later my buddy met up with me with another 2 dozen. All the suckers quickly met their demise. At that point my forearm and fingers were cramped up and I was done.
After hearing of the extraordinary pike tales, my 7 year old wanted to go badly. Two days later we arrived back at the lake with 4 dozen suckers. Unfortunately with the heat and the amount of bait in the bucket, many started dying. 2 dozen at a time good, 4 dozen bad, check. I purposely started far off the waypoints to see if we could find another pod of fish farther down the structure. One really nice largemouth was it in about a half hour of prodding. With that I gave in and started sliding over toward my marks. As I got close the screen lit up with suspended bait and big hooks below. Nothing had changed from the day before, except the bite may have been even a little better. The little one made a game of seeing how long it would take to get bit each time after setting lines. Never made it more then 3 minutes. I thought once we got into the dead bait it would slow down, but the fish did not care one bit. At 10 AM we were all out of bait and headed in. For anyone that cares to try best depths were 20-25 feet and my biggest tip would be to look for concentrations of pan fishermen and fish near them. Use the TM to move around slowly because sometimes moving 5 or 10 feet would make all the difference.
I guess the moral of the story is that it is fun to get back sometimes to things we used to enjoy. Soaking a bobber for spring crappie, fishing the river for catfish, using some corn to catch retention pond carp. As we progress in fishing it is easy to get away from some of the simpler methods, but man, it can be fun, especially with kids or grandkids of your own.
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