Rising Water, Rising Fish — Falling Water, Falling Fish

Mike Iaconelli

This spring has been unbelievably wet. It seems like it rains every other day, sometimes not even every other — just every single darn day. The lakes and rivers are high. The fishing is tough but it’s still possible to catch them if you keep a few basic things in mind.

First, when water rises the fish will rise with it. They’ll follow it all the way in as far as they can go. They don’t care about houses, campgrounds or baseball fields. But, the good side of that is that their locations are predictable. They’ll usually be found in the thickest, heaviest and nastiest cover they can find. And so, that’s where you should be fishing.

I flip and pitch that kind of cover. I go right into the middle of it and worry about how I’m going to get them out after I hook them. It’s about first things being first. 

For years my most productive baits were jigs, Texas rigged plastics and, more recently, a punch rig. But that was then. Things have changed.

VMC Tokyo Rig

The VMC Tokyo rig is my go-to setup now. It has everything you need except for the weight — you’ll want to pick your own depending upon conditions — and a plastic bait. The thing that’s so great about the Tokyo rig is that it holds the bait up, off the bottom regardless of how much muck and mud is DOWN there. That’s important because bass won’t root through the mud to get something. They aren’t scavengers. 

Berkley Powerbait Jester Craw
Berkley Powerbait Jester Craw

My favorite bait is a Berkley Powerbait Jester Craw. It’s basically a creature bait with flappers, several appendages and a ribbed body. I don’t care how dirty or muddy the water is that you’re fishing, the bass won’t have any trouble finding this one.

A much tougher situation than when the water’s rising is when it’s been high and starts to fall. The bass move out with it but they don’t necessarily follow the water line exactly. In most cases they go back to the original bank line regardless of how shallow or deep it might be at any given time. I’m guessing they sense a measure of security when they do that, something they know. 

The best bait for this scenario, bar none, is a heavy spinnerbait. It’ll give off plenty of thump and is easily controllable by almost any angler.

Molix Venator
Molix Venator

My preference here is a 5/8-ounce Molix Venator. The wire is flexible and so it has a lot of thump. That’s what I’m looking for in a spinnerbait under these conditions. As good as it is right out of the box, though, don’t be afraid to customize it with different blade combinations. Sometimes that makes a big difference.

You’ll notice I haven’t said anything about color. That’s because I’m a firm believer in matching the hatch. Whatever the bass are eating in your waters is what you should try to match. That’s true for any plastic or hard bait that I’ve talked about in this blog.

Tip: Learn to search the Internet for information about lake levels, where they’ve been and where they’re going. If you can’t find information about water levels where you’re fishing, ram a stick down into shallow water and check it periodically. That’ll let you know what’s happening and how fast it’s happening.

Don’t let this bad weather get you down. There are still plenty of fish you can catch.       


Ike Talks Tokyo Rig

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