Sunshine can be angler’s best friend

It was a lazy day with a bit of a breeze and an overcast wash in the sky until the sun powered through the clouds as I made my way along a shoreline striped with tree trunks.

The venue was Pymatuning Reservoir, one of the best bass lakes in the United States, according to Bassmaster Magazine. Pymatuning showed its stuff last week, particularly after the sun popped through the haze.

Anglers often describe the phenomenon of fish starting to bite as being akin to “someone flipping the switch.” Somebody flipped the switch Thursday. The sun hit the water and the bite ignited.

Pymatuning fits my favorite style of fishing. I’m in my element when I have a stout rod with sturdy line to pitch plastic baits and jigs into gnarly cover. Pymatuning has miles of water perfectly suited for such tactics.

When I launched the boat, I was surprised to observe that the water temperature had fallen substantially over the past week. The water was in the mid-70s a week prior, but it was 66 as I powered up the MotorGuide to ease into casting distance of the patches of aquatic vegetation sprouting in the shallows.

The first hour on the water yielded two bass. Neither sported much size, but they did start to provide clues about what might work as the day advanced.

I approached a point that marked the transition from shade to illumination. A big tree had fallen into the water, and a chunky largemouth lived along the waterlogged trunk.

The next couple of hours produced a fish every 15 to 20 minutes as I picked apart the cover with pitches into the nooks and crannies likely to hold a bass. I was settling into a certain rhythm that seems to be the hallmark of a good day of fishing.

I noticed the sky was brighter, but not sunny. The water was still only 67 degrees, certainly warm enough for early June largemouths – and the 2-pound smallmouth that also crashed the party. But the high, thin clouds kept the shadows ill-defined.

The fish didn’t seem to mind. I was catching them just often enough to keep things interesting. Had the day resulted in nothing more than what it already had delivered, it would have been a good trip.

Then somebody flipped the switch.

The sun warmed my shoulders, and the shadows that had been murky now were sharp. They created edges where light turned to darkness. Bass, being creatures of the edges, like to hide in the dark holes around stumps and logs and look into the light for food to swim past.

Pymatuning bass eat a lot of yellow perch, so my lures were selected for their perch-like qualities. The bass liked them, especially when the sun popped through the clouds.

In the final hour before I put the BassCat on the trailer, I boated five bass in the 3-pound class.

I noticed a few drops of sweat on my forehead, another byproduct of the same sunshine that created the shadows that formed the edges where my favorite game fish likes to live, hunt and eat.

The day had gone from good to great. It may have seemed like somebody flipped the switch, but the reality is that the sun simply caused the bass to stake out areas that experience has taught me to seek.

Sunshine can be an angler’s best friend. We need to know how to find the fish regardless of the sky conditions, but it’s a whole lot easier to locate them when the sun is heating up the action.

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