JACK WOLLITZ Hot times are best for bass, hybrids
Bright hot days are settling in, making it increasingly difficult for anglers who chase walleyes, crappies and bass.
So while the weather may be as hot as a Fourth of July firecracker, the fishing for most of our preferred species isn't - unless your favorite fish are white bass and their hybrid cousins.
Mid-summer is when schools of shad begin to wad up and roam the open water in main-lake areas. Once the shad start to congregate, white bass and hybrid stripers take notice and station themselves around the schools.
Locating the bait fish isn't very difficult. Anglers can use two methods: sonar and visual. They can motor around and watch the depth-finder for clouds of shad. Sometimes the bait is pushed to the surface by feeding fish, and that's a dead giveaway to the location of the game species.
When the whites and hybrids (also known as stripers, wipers and sunshine bass), are feeding on the surface, anglers can enjoy unbeatable fun in a sport called "fishing the jumps." The objective is to fire a cast to the edge of the churning water to catch fish chomping on bewildered shad.
Topwater plugs, lipless crankbaits and jigs all work great when the white bass and hybrids are in the jumps. Doubles are not uncommon and the fish often stay interested for long periods of time.
Eventually the action subsides as the gamesters scatter the bait. Typically, however, the shad reschool and the silvery predators charge in for another food fest.
It is possible to stay in touch with a feeding frenzy if you remain far enough away that you don't spook the fish, yet still can reach them with a long cast. Anglers give chase with their electric trolling motors or, if they must move more quickly, they fire up their outboards.
If there is no evidence of surface action, it is still possible to hook up.
Take note on the sonar unit where the bait fish are located, and then work points and humps at that particular depth. Diving crankbaits are excellent tools to cover lots of water and trick the fish.
White bass in the one- to two-pound category are the normal size anglers can expect to catch at Berlin, Lake Milton and Mosquito Creek Reservoir. Larger hybrids -- some in the 10-pound class and bigger -- prowl West Branch and Shenango Reservoirs, as well as the Ohio River.
Regardless of their size, they aren't particularly fussy about what they will hit. If you find the fish, they usually will hit the lure hard -- especially when they are in the "jumps."
Ohioan on top: Out in the wilds of North Dakota, veteran walleye pro Mark Brumbaugh was on the verge Friday morning of winning the Lund Boats Western Pro-Am, sanctioned by In-Fisherman Professional Walleye Trail, on Lake Sakakawea.
Brumbaugh, who lives in northwestern Ohio and learned walleye tactics on Lake Erie, was leading the tournament as the final round started. He caught a total of 46.93 pounds during the first two rounds and held a lead of just over one pound.
The biggest walleye weighed in during the second round was a 7.20-pounder.