Tuesday, July 1, 2014 | OUTDOORS
Tie on a tube jig for the Fourth of July
The Fourth of July holiday has always been one of campfires, barbecues and boating fun, but for me it rarely included fishing. That’s gradually changed over the past few years because when there’s little time to fish, you fish whenever you can, even if that means doing so during a long, busy holiday weekend.
The biggest downfall of an otherwise great time to be on the water are the larger-than-normal crowds that pile onto area lakes. Even the smaller, overlooked lakes are packed with people yet that shouldn’t deter anyone from taking some time to wet a line this weekend. Over the past two years I’ve fished on the Fourth of July, early in the morning and during the middle of the day, when the lakes are churning with jetskis, tubers and dock jumpers, and to my own surprise I’ve still managed to do very well on bass and panfish.
My largest bass to date came at midday on the Fourth of July two years ago, and the year after that produced some of the nicest crappie I’ve caught in a long time, all while boaters created larger waves than even the heaviest of winds could muster.
This year’s Fourth-of-July holiday looks a little unpredictable in terms of the weather, and may actually be a little cooler than previous years. Water temperatures also seem to be cooler for this time of year yet with all the rain and unstable weather we’ve had lately, the fishing has been excellent, and I wouldn’t expect anything different over the Fourth of July weekend.
One of my main targets over a recent weekend included crappies, and despite windy, overcast skies and ample amounts of rainfall the previous evening, fish seemed willing to bite on nearly every cast once found. Catching crappies was as simple as finding the weedline from about 8 to 12 feet of water and dragging any color tube jig behind the boat, using the wind and trolling motor as a guide. Fish were suspended but hungry and quick to strike, without any bait needed. On a day when fish are less willing to bite I’ll tip the tube jig with a waxie or even a crawler, but for some reason, crappies tend to bite less when the tube jig is tipped with a crawler or worm, whereas waxies seem more inviting.
There were many fish caught and released in the 8 to 9 inch range, yet many others measured between 9 and 10 inches. They weren’t the larger fish I’d hoped to catch, but one measured just over 10-1/2 inches, which is a nice fish by any standards, and fried up nicely in a pan of searing hot oil.
Fishing for crappie or any kind of panfish is a great way to get kids involved with fishing this time of year as they can be easy to catch by simply hanging a tube jig over the side of the boat. A crappie may not always have the fight in them like that of a bluegill but there’s always a surprise bass or even a larger fish such as pike that’s possible when using a simple tube jig approach.