In season: Summer
Cutthroat trout: Despite their reputation for eagerly taking the bait, cutthroat trout can sometimes be hesitant to bite. On those days, take a page from the ice-angler’s playbook—move. Even in prime stream habitat, if you don’t get a take after four or five casts, walk to the next good section. Cutthroats prefer cold, clear pools and deep runs, so don’t linger in thin, less-productive waters. It’s not unusual to walk several hundred yards between the best sections, but the effort will pay off.—Ken Bailey
Carp: Carp are smart, so to catch them consistently you need to outsmart them. One way to trick carp is to chum the area you’re planning to fish. Inexpensive field corn, available at any agricultural feed store, makes great chum. Simply simmer the corn in a pot for 10 minutes to soften it up; then bait a spot where you’ve caught or spotted carp in the past. After a few days of chumming—a week is ideal—you won’t believe how many 15- to 30-pound-plus carp will be waiting to greet you.—Gord Pyzer
Bass: Often, the best place to catch summer bass is under docks. The secret is to skip your lure as far back into the dark, shaded recesses as possible. Use a 6½-foot spinning outfit with a light tip and strong butt, rigged with six- or eight-pound-test line. Simply crouch down in your boat and, using a side-arm cast, flick your wrist as though you were skipping a stone to make your 1/16- to 1/8-ounce bait skip all the way under the dock. Not only will your offering land in the high-percentage zone, the skipping sound will attract the big predators.
Most veteran bass anglers shy away from using live bait for bass because artificial lures enable them to cover water faster. Plus, aggressive bass tend to inhale live bait and get deep-hooked, often fatally. You can avoid that, however, by using circle hooks, which are designed to catch on the fish’s lip—perfect for summer bass fishing with live bait. With circle hooks, always go with one size larger than the J-hook you’d normally use (for example, if you typically use a #6 J-hook, tie on a #4 circle hook). And when you feel a fish bite, never set the hook. Instead, wait a second, then start reeling. This allows the hook to roll out of the fish’s throat and catch on its lip instead, making catch-and-release a cinch.—Gord Pyzer
Walleye: A crawler harness is great for catching summer walleye because the fish are hungry and often willing to chase a bait. However, you still need to choose the proper blade design and size. Colorado blades produce the most vibration and noise, making them perfect for stained water and big fish. Willow leaf blades spin faster and produce plenty of flash, which makes them ideal for clear water and fussy fish. Indiana blades are a compromise and the best choice if you can’t decide what to use. Stick with smaller #1, #2 or #3 blades when the walleye are small, the water is clear or a front has passed through. Larger #4 to #8 blades excel when conditions are perfect, the walleye are big and you want to accentuate the characteristics of your blades.
Contrary to popular belief, walleye rarely lie on the bottom of a lake, river or reservoir refusing to eat. This is especially true during the summer, when water temperatures are ideal and the fish are devouring three per cent of their body weight daily. Still, many walleye anglers look at clear blue skies and think the fishing will be tough. Consequently, they scale down their tackle, employ slow, live-bait techniques and self-fulfill their prophecy. In other words, they don’t catch anything. In the summer, you should always start by aggressively casting crankbaits, jerkbaits and five-inch-long paddletail swimbaits around main lake structures. If you’re trolling, pull crawler harnesses and minnowbaits at speeds between 1½ and three kilometres an hour. Slow down and use live bait only if the fish insist upon it.—Gord Pyzer