In a time when everybody seems to be in a hurry, still fishing has fallen out of style. That really is a pity, because there’s nothing more relaxing than fishing from the shore of a tranquil lake or slow moving stream. Waiting out those long overdue bites really brings out the essence of the sport.
Still-fishing doesn’t have to be the boring past-time most of us have left behind. You don’t have to just put a worm on a hook and wait, it’s when you dig a little deeper that you can catch a ton of fish.
Still Fishing Basics
Although still fishing can get quite complicated the basics all stay the same. All you really need is a rod, reel, line, hooks, sinkers and bait. You don’t have to spend a lot of money on fancy gear, it’s all about learning the subtle techniques that really bring in a ton of fish.
The first time my dad took me fishing all we used was an old can pole and a bobber that I could barely hold up. Probably 4 years old and armed with these simple tools my dad and I drug out more fish than I could count.
Where to Still Fish
Ideally, you should choose a spot that offers something a little different than the surrounding area. That could be a littler cover, slight current or a change in the bottom, ETC. Anywhere that looks like an attractive feeding ground will work.
I always try to setup next to a dock, overhanging tree or deep hole along the shore that offers a little extra cover. Those places that look like they could hold fish almost always do.
Setup a Rod Holder
Still Fishing is never going to be the most exciting past time. Most of us will want to set down our rod, kick back and relax. This is where rod holders come in.
For years all I used was a forked stick sharpened and driven into the ground. It was setup close to the bank to cradle my rod. Wasn’t until I had my son that I realized how nice rod holders actually are.
There are times when you can’t just grab your rod and that’s where this cheap rod holder comes in handy. When you’re fooling around untangling your kids line you won’t have to worry about your rod getting dragged off the bank.
What Can You Catch
The real beauty of still fishing is that you never know what you’re going to catch. You can catch Trout, bass and pike all on the same stationary hook. All you have to do is change up your setup to drop down where each species feeds.
Deep feeders are going to include all your catfish, bullheads, carp, sturgeon, suckers, ETC. Anything that sucks up bait resting on the bottom of your lake.
Fish for them with a simple hook and lead setup. Personally I like to use a simple bottom rig setup, a snelled hook knotted about a foot above my sinker. I like fishing with a slack line which gives fish about 12 inches to tug before feeling the weight(that’s plenty of time to sink in).
You can also avoid the sinker drag by applying a slip sinker tied at the end of a snap swivel(this is what I’m talking about). When the fish picks up the bait they can run free without any noticeable drag.
Best Bottom Baits
The absolute king of bottom baits is just the common worm. Just about any fish that feeds near the bottom will happily take a nightcrawler, and you can find them anywhere. There are a ton of other baits attractive to bottom feeders.
- Catfish/Bullheads: worms , liver, cheese and dough balls(my favorite commercial dough ball) ,chicken scraps
- Sturgeon: Dead minnows, Clams
- Carp/Suckers/Chub: Corn Kernels, Dough Balls(throw in some vanilla flavoring)
What About Trout, Pike and Bass?
Trout pike and bass usually won’t take a bait off the bottom. They’ll usually look for their food suspended higher in the water table. This means you’re going to have to use a float to get your bait up off the bottom.
Floating a Bait
I’m not talking about using a bobber! In the past guys floated their bait above the bottom using a small piece of cork or marshmallow placed just ahead of their hook. Personally I prefer to use the commercial bait floaters, because they’re so much easier to use.
Just rig up your bait the same way you would a bottom feeder adjusting your leader to change the depth. You normally won’t have to get more than a few feet up off the bottom to attract bass and trout. Enough to get up off the weed beds.
I’ve always stuck to the basic worms and minnows when going after bass. Doesn’t really matter if the minnows are alive or dead if they’re in the right strike zone.
Trout on the other hand seem to favor kernel corn cheeseballs and salmon eggs(I love this stuff).
Work The Surface For Panfish
Panfish, Crappie and sunfish all seem to prefer bait floated near the surface. This is when you need to bring out your brightly colored bobbers and floats. Watching a bobber isn’t just for children, I love watching a bobber and waiting for those tugs.
Fooling a fish with a float really isn’t all that difficult. Just try to minimize the drag caused by the bobber. What fish wants to drag around a big colorful bobber.
The easiest way to get around this is to use a smaller float. With a little bit of lead shot your float will barely poke above the surface. If you haven’t tried using a casting bubble nows the time(check them out).
Casting bubbles are basically like a bobber, but they’re clear and can be filled with water. Filling them with water adjusts the buoyancy making them less noticeable. Just like a bobber you can easily change line depth to suit your needs.
How Deep Should You Fish?
Achieving the proper depth is one of the most important parts of the equation. Most of the time you’ll want to keep your bait within 4 feet of the surface. Casting quickly becomes difficult when you add additional line below the float.