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Last month I was walleye fishing on Lake Erie during perfect weather conditions — cloudy weather with a gentle "walleye chop." Rain was forecast for the next day, but the walleye were slamming my offerings on this day. They were nice fish, measuring in the 25- to 26-inch class. I could not wait to get back out the next day.
The next morning appeared to be a carbon copy of the previous day. However, the only exception was that a wet front was following the Ohio Lake Erie shoreline, but we were far north of it — almost in Canadian waters. We were back fishing in the same area as the previous day. The fish marks on our fish finders showed good concentrations of walleye all over the screen. A large pack of nearby charter boats excitedly shared similar sonar readings over their squawking radios. However, it did not take long for this enthusiasm to die.
Trollers, and drifters alike, we were looking for answers to this "dead bite." Only after hooking my first few walleyes on the bottom, in a heavy rock structure, did I realize there was a weather-related problem. Yesterday, the walleyes were pounding my lures and, when hooked, fought extremely hard. Today, though, the fight was sluggish after a very tentative hook-up — a strong barometric indicator when all else is normal. Unfortunately, I was slow on the uptake when figuring out the current weather pattern.
It was mainly a low barometer that most concerned me because of the poor results. Why did fish stop biting during these periods, and what were they feeling? I sure wished I could feel what those fish felt to prepare me for those down days better.
There are certain times when we should not wish for things — mid-October was one of those times. It was the worst hurricane in history ever to hit the Florida panhandle, my winter home away from Port Angeles, Wash. Hurricane Michael came in mean and nasty, leaving few structures standings as it departed for Georgia, still powerful as a category two hurricane. It set the lowest barometric pressure reading at 918 millibars when it firms slammed into Mexico Beach, then Panama City.
I was on the west side of this storm and away from the more serious life-threatening portion of it in Niceville, Fla., three miles due north of Destin, Fla., on the beach. That's when it happened! At least in my mind, I was finally experiencing what I thought fish were experiencing when barometers bottom out. I could barely move. Even though I slept the night soundly before, I was lethargic the following morning and felt that I could sleep all day over the next two days. I was not alone, as my wife and neighbors all felt the same. We had no energy and no appetite. Only after the barometer sufficiently rose did our energy return. Time will tell if this is truly how low barometers affect both fish and humans.
What would be the second-worst condition to fish? I would say a dead saltwater tide. However, I could still catch fish under these difficult conditions when live and dead natural bait were unsuccessful. The trick was to downsize your presentation when jigging through the ice dramatically. More specifically, switch to the smallest Sonic BaitFish to reach your target and slow down the lure's jigging action. Take this action when your boat is anchored over your fishing spot.
The downward flutter of your metal jig triggers strikes that natural bait seldom produces in a dead tide or poor weather barometer. In the Gulf of Mexico, this technique consistently outfished any other technique! Glow Chartreuse was highly effective, especially for yellowtail snappers. Do not overwork your jig during these slack tide periods. At times, sweetening your jig with a small piece of squid or shrimp will increase your strikes.
These are just two examples. The Sonic BaitFish is deadly-effective for just about any species in the Gulf of Mexico. Just don't get in the way of a hurricane!
Thank you for subscribing to the Mack Attack Magazine. We hope to "see you" in the December issue. Happy Thanksgiving to all. — Pete