Thill Bobbers downed tree. The wood, especially wood in very shallow water, will hold crappies. Travel as far back as you can into the creeks and start fishing. Shore anglers can target those areas, too. On main lakes, even the shallow water takes time to warm early in the year. Save shallow targets until the sun does its job. Early in the day, crappies will merely move higher in the water column over deeper water. Also find crappies along rocky shoreline riprap, if present. But, cover is usually the key. Crappies love wood, whether fallen timber or submerged brush. Exposed wood collects heat from the sun and radiates it to nearby water to ignite the plankton-baitfish-predator food chain. Deeper brush offers concealment as fish move toward the shallows to feed. You can sight-fish in the shallows. But deeper brush can be harder to find and fish. Old-timers know to go to likely points, lower a jig and move slowly with the electric trolling motor. That’s when a snag is a good thing. Toss a buoy and you’re in business. But, there are easier ways. Enter the next generation of electronics, such as Humminbird’s Side Imaging technology. The screen details cover like wood or rocks to the sides of the boat up to 240 feet away and down 100 feet. The search for spots to fish just got a lot simpler. If the lake features boat docks, focus on the ones that have deep water nearby. Another important spot to check – old weed beds that survived the winter. Methods vary depending on where and how deep the target is. One fun way to fish shallow wood is to use a long rod with a quick tip and some backbone, in order to reach out over tree limbs and drop a NO-SNAGG jig with a minnow into spaces between the branches. If you need to stay away to avoid spooking fish, use a slip-bobber rig with the Thill Pro Weighted Series to let you stay back and still get where you need to go. Use a thread-style bobber stop, a bead, the float and a barrel swivel to a leader of line lighter than the main line. If you get snagged, you can break off without losing the entire setup. Use a rubber-core sinker instead of split shot. If you do get hung up in the branches, it’s often the weight that’s caught, not the hook. With a rubber-core, you can often pull the sinker and get it to slide free. During especially tough bites, downsize and use ice jigs in Techni-Glo colors dressed with wax worms under Thill floats like the Mini Stealth and Shy Bite. Riprap, which warms the water, often holds the most aggressive fish. Use something like a Road Runner, a small plastic trailer like a Munchies Thumpin’ Grub and/or a wax worm or piece of nightcrawler, and fish fast along the rocky faces of dams or bridges. Cast and let the bait fall to the bottom before slowly retrieving it just over the rocks. Count it down for two reasons. If the bait stops short of the last count, set the hook. A crappie took it as it was sinking. Counting down also lets you test shallower depths on subsequent casts to see if crappies are suspended. Use the same setup to cast over the tops of submerged weeds. Or, drift over the top with slip-bobber rigs. Drop a buoy or enter a waypoint on the GPS when you connect with fish. Soon, you’ll have an idea of the size, shape and even direction of travel of the school. Shallow weeds can be fished like bass anglers do. Simply flip a small jig and plastic into holes in the weeds and reel back through natural avenues through the weed bed. Continued on Pg 35
Around the world in 60 seconds and what you should know about it... Simply Dateline: San Francisco San Francisco, CA - A coalition of environmental and fishery groups filed suit today in San Francisco Superior Court against the California Department of Fish and Game (DFG), seeking to overturn new regulations that streamline the killing of endangered coho salmon. The groups charge the regulations, adopted by DFG in December 2007, violate the California Endangered Species Act (CESA). The coalition includes the Environmental Protection Information Center (EPIC), Sierra Club and California Trout. "California Trout fought long and hard to have coho salmon listed as endangered by the State of California," said Brian Stranko, California Trout Chief Executive Officer. "DFG has a legal obligation to protect native salmon. We are disappointed that this administration has put the interests of the logging industry above the long-term survival of coho salmon, a species clearly at risk." At the heart of the lawsuit is DFG's move, under the new regulations, to delegate its duty to protect fish to the agency that approves logging plans, the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CDF or CALFIRE). The DFG regulations are tied to a package of new rules the State Board of Forestry (BOF) adopted last year that allow the timber industry to continue "business as usual" logging practices that harm salmon habitat. Fish and Game is trying to pawn off its responsibility to protect our threatened salmon on CDF," said EPIC's Scott Greacen, "but CDF has just put in place road management rules that ensure coho will continue to be routinely harmed by logging practices." Coho salmon have been state listed as threatened or endangered from the Oregon border south through the San Francisco Bay since 2004, and have been listed as endangered from San Francisco to Monterey Bay since 1995. The federal government also lists coho salmon as an endangered species. The plaintiffs argue that DFG approved incidental take permit guidelines for timber regulations that violate CESA, the California Fish and Game Code, the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), and Administrative Procedures Act. "Incidental take" refers to the accidental killing of one or more coho salmon in the course of logging activity. "These rules focus more on making it easier to kill endangered salmon, rather recovering their habitat," said Paul Mason, deputy director of Sierra Club California. "We need to restore salmon habitat, not streamline the killing of the few remaining wild coho salmon." The lawsuit also alleges that DFG and the Board acted improperly when adopting the incidental take regulations because both agencies failed to address concerns raised repeatedly by the plaintiffs during the rule-making process. Another lawsuit against the BOF was brought by EPIC and the Sierra Club late last year regarding the same set of regulations.