Junk fishing is not aimless fishing

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Seigo Saito

Harvey Horne boated a key fish late in the day to anchor a Day-1 limit of 12-pounds, 1-ounce that has him tied with Randy Plyer for 36th place. The rest of his day was junk.

Don’t misread that latter statement. Horne proudly owned up to a junk fishing strategy; a game plan common to the fall season. 

By definition, junk fishing refers to throwing a broad spectrum of baits with little, if any consistency. Some describe it as “fishing what’s in front of you,” which could mean a dock, a laydown, a chunk rock/gravel transition or a sudden flurry of bass schooling on baitfish.

As Horne explained, Grand Lake is experiencing the generally disjointed effects of the fall transition. Baitfish schools are migrating and bass looking to pack on the weight ahead of winter’s approaching leanness are hot on their heels.

“The lake is fishing typical of this time of year, where you have to cover so many spots, so many different depths, so many types of cover,” Horne said. “You just have to get lucky and hit five of them in the face.

“It’s typical fall fishing; you’re throwing a little bit of everything at ‘em.”

Horne said he’s keeping about nine rods on his deck, which is hardly excessive considering that a day of fall junk fishing often leaves a boat looking like a garage sale. But regardless of how many rods an angler employs, a couple of principles provide some sense of purpose amid what may appear chaotic.

First, applying tactics appropriate to the seasonal complexion holds up to the logic test every day of the week. When summer finds southern bass tucked under grass mats, no one questions the angler who has a couple punching rods and a couple frog rods on his deck. Same goes for junk fishing — if that’s what it takes, that’s what it takes.

“Weather conditions play a big part,” Horne said. “If you have a lot of wind, you want to pick up a moving bait. If you’ve got deeper water or a ledge, pick up something that drags the bottom.”

Some of this comes down to instinct and personal fishing strengths — knowing what to throw at five different types of cover on a 100-yard stretch of bank. It’s not rare for a junk fishing angler to report catching their five limit fish on five different baits.

Horne said that’s fine with him: “I found something when we fished here in 2017 and it only worked for one fish (on Day 1) but it was one fish that I really needed.”

Safe to say, Grand Lake will see a lot of junk fishing today. Some will succeed, some will not; but there’s no denying the seasonal of a multi-faceted strategy.