Dealing with drought conditions

It seems that the entire country is in a major drought right now, and Michigan is no exception.

This has been one of the hottest, driest summers on record up here, and I know it’s been brutal in the south as well as other parts of the country.

My heart goes out to the agriculture folks whose livelihoods are affected by lack of rain. The end result will affect all of us with higher prices at the grocery.

But the drought has impacted recreational users as well and anglers are no exception.

Although our lakes here in the north are natural and spring fed, the farmers’ use of deep wells to power irrigation systems has put extra demand on the water table and impacted lake levels.

Lower lakes mean less shoreline cover. A lot of our banks dotted with overhanging trees, boat docks, and lily pads are high and dry.

That’s forced the bass to move deeper and suspend more often than they normally do.

You have a similar situation on reservoirs where there is less current, which means the fish suspend more often and follow schools of baitfish, adding to the anglers’ challenge.

A good way to find these fish is to watch for birds working the surface, bass schooling activity on top and to monitor your electronics for baitfish.

Regardless of whether you’re fishing a Southern impoundment or the Great Lakes, finding the bait is critical under these conditions.

I’ve spent most of the summer just driving around areas watching my Humminbird Side Imaging and sonar looking for bait. Under normal conditions, I would be looking for bass on structure, but now I look for the bait to determine what areas they are using on a given day. Once I find quantities of bait, I start checking out the nearby structure. But if there’s no bait, I don’t waste time fishing that area.

These conditions have made the HydroWave even more valuable. The HydroWave is an electronic tool with a speaker attached to the bottom of my trolling motor. I can program authentic sounds of baitfish and/or bass feeding on baitfish to activate the baitfish school and trigger bass into biting.

That’s invaluable when the bass are in a lethargic mood.

This also is a time when I use my graph to find individual fish and catch them. Today’s electronics are so good that you can see exactly what’s going on beneath you.

The drop shot rig is perfect for this scenario. You can see the fish suspended on the graph, drop to the depth they’re holding and watch them take the bait, even if they are midway between the surface and the bottom.

That’s how I caught a lot of the fish at Toledo Bend this past season. I was working deep flats and marking individual bass, dropping a wacky-rigged finesse worm on them to make them bite.

So, if you’re struggling to catch bass on your lakes, spend more time looking for the bait away from structure and utilize different techniques that allow you to present baits where they’re holding.

Sure, it’s a challenge, but you might learn something in the process!

Remember, it’s all about the attitude!

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