Traverse City Record-Eagle


May 17, 2013

Bob Gwizdz: Skinny water calls for different technique

BREEDSVILLE — For most of the last decade, I’ve been fishing for bluegills a day or two a year with Denny Hettig, who has developed a simple trolling approach that is not only incredibly productive, but also almost idiot-proof. So imagine my surprise when we pushed off the bank on small Van Buren County lake recently and Hettig handed me a rod rigged with a bobber.

Hettig not trolling?

“We’re fishing skinny water,” Hettig said. “A foot to two feet. Weedy. It’s tough fishing and tough on your gear. You’ll learn all kinds of new words. But they’re there.”

Hettig maneuvered us away from the ramp with the trolling motor, about a good cast-and-a-quarter away from the bank. We threaded about a half of a red worm on a fine-wire No. 8 hook that was maybe a foot below a weighted bobber StrokeStyle/$ID/Solid— with no split shot on the line StrokeStyle/$ID/Solid— and heaved the rigs, hard as we could, toward the bank.

The pencil-style bobber laid flat on the surface. When I saw it begin to stand up, I set the hook. Ta-da. It was about an eight-inch bluegill that twice wrapped me up in submerged vegetation before I finessed it out of there.

“Well, that’s not really what I wanted to show you,” Hettig said. “There’s a lot them in here bigger than that. But that’s how it’s done.”

We moved slowly, maintaining as much distance as we could from the bank but still reach it. And we caught fish at a pretty steady clip.

Hettig usually trolls for bluegills, spring, summer and fall, but there’s no way we could get at them trolling in that skinny, weedy water. Typically, Hettig said, the bluegills can be found ultra shallow from just after ice-out for a few weeks, but this year, the water stayed cold longer than usual. Once the water warms a bit StrokeStyle/$ID/Solid— and the ‘gills move back out off the bank StrokeStyle/$ID/Solid— it’ll be trolling time again.

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