This year's summer is quite mild. The breezes are pleasant, and the temperature, not too incessant. It's perfect for flathead cat fishing, which involving sitting on the shore for long periods of time. And there's few better baits for flatheads than bullhead catfishes, those small catfishes that you often catch on nightcrawlers and bobbers.
Flatheads inhale these things. Bullheads are apparently very tasty to them, because I'm not the only one with my sentiment. I've also caught bass, channels, and even turtles on bullheads before.
Bullheads are better bait than panfishes in that they are very hardy. I left them in the garage overnight in an inch of water, and they have survived, and were back to normal pretty soon (and tasted just as good as fresh ones in the frying pan). In your bait bucket, panfish die pretty soon, but there are days when I go without an aerator in my bucket, and these things were all nice and frisky. They also live very long on your hook, unlike panfishes.
Above: Officer "Ved" Shah shows a student how to catch a bullhead
Catching bullheads is simple. Bullheads are like bluegill. They will readily take a worm on a hook on a hook, split shot, and bobber rig. If it's a live bait rig and catches panfish, it will catch bullheads. Remember, I said live bait. Bullheads aren't much for lures. Live bait has the scent and taste that they can detect. Also, do not get bug spray, sunscreen, or any manmade chemicals on your hands or bait. Nothing scares off bullheads as unnatural scents do.
Bullheads like the dark. If you're fishing by day, consider fishing in the shadows of trees. Or, better yet, fish at night. Keep in mind that you will send the bullheads scurrying off to their little hiding places if you shine down white light (most flashlights). Use red light to rebait your hook, because bullheads can't see red light, apparently.
Small bullheads are a great bait. Catching them is a lot of fun. Try them!
Topwater Tubes for Big Sunfish
Let's stroll down memory lane. Back to the days when your grandpa brought you fishing down to the pond with your trusty spincast combo, a cup of nightcrawlers, and an old pail, which you soon filled up with small and eager-to-bite sunfish, whom you would all invite to dinner. Sunfish hold many memories for us as a first fish, which started you off on a road to fishing other species, whether they be bass trout, or whatever. But sunfish holds a special memory in all of us.
I love fishing for big sunfish. Let no one tell you that all sunfish are easy to catch; small ones, maybe, but the big ones are no less cautious than a wild brown trout. At the slightest vibration, the big 'uns, especially in highly pressured ton lakes, make off like lightning. Make sure to approach the shore quietly when you fish. Big sunfish are also highly suspicious; I have seen them look at a well presented lure and ignore it. Maybe the pond minnows are bit silvery this time of the year, or some of your sunscreen got on your lure; they don't just bite on impulse, unlike their smaller brethren.
Above: Big sunfish caught on a topwater tube as part of the Buddy Program.
However, one way that I've found that drives big sunfish into a frenzy is a weightless be, fish topwater. Simply use a light line, put the tube on a small hook, and cast it out. I prefer the tube to be in a dark color, but the actual color doesn't matter too much. Once it is on the water, jerk the tube on the surface; pause; jerk; pause. Keep fishing it like that. This is very effective in the summer, early fall, and late spring. I think the tube resembles a struggling insect on the water. Fishing a topwater tube is a nice way to get some big sunfish.
Live bait is something that most of us started out fishing with, and then moved on to soft plastics, flies, etc. We usually associate fishing with live bait as something only for panfish. I disagree.
Do yo know about those small creeks that snake behind houses, stores, and in parks? Most people don't fish such small creeks, but I do, and I find them enjoyable. Even in large creeks and rivers, you can use my method of catching smallmouth bass.
Above: A healthy creek smallmouth is caught out of the Middle Patuxent River in Howard County, Maryland.
If you read any of my previous blog posts, you will find that I like using mealworms as live bait. There are many reasons for that, including but not restricted to these:
1. Natural. A mealworm looks natural underwater, like some kind of aquatic insect larvae, or something that fell off a tree branch. It won't spook any fish.
2. Tasty. Fish love them. Not as much as nightcrawlers, but very close. Besides, a nightcrawler doesn't have some of the most important advantages a mealworm has.
3. Strong. Fish can't ripe the off the hook as easily, due to the shell.
4. They are the perfect size for my technique, and for creek fishing
5. They don't easily dry out. They used to live in bags of grain! How dry is that? When you leave them out in the sun, they won't die nearly as easily as worms do, but they still prefer shade.
6. Hardy. I can shake them around hiking, heat them up while in my car, and other ways. They still don't die. Many other types of live bait, such minnows, die extremely easily.
7. You can put the in the fridge, with little care. That's a good way of storing them, and very convenient.
First, put a mealworm (You can get them at feed and pet stores, or online) on a hook in a way that they are on the hook straight, covering the shank, but with the bend and point exposed. Then, put a tiny split shot 8" or so above it, and cast it out in a nice pool. Feel or watch for bites. The mealworm will look like insect larvae to hungry creek smallmouth, and natural, as well. I have got many fish this way, and so will you.
I've always been a bit of a foodie, and since I love fishing, I often decide to sample the fish that I catch. Fish, by the way, is healthy for you. Fish have less saturated fat than most meats. The unsaturated fats that are found in fish have health benefits. Omega-3 fatty acids, found in fish, may reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease. There also are other substances that are found in fish that reduce cancer risk, and other things.
Above: Creek stew, made from organic garden herbs and creek chub and fall fish. It's almost free to make, and delicious Unfortunately, I forgot the recipe.
Wild fish is free, too, and, if you get it from a clean source, it's clean, too, both physically, and environmentally. Many, many farmed fishes, especially tilapia, are crowded together in near cesspool conditions, and heavy doses of medications are added to in to make sure that the fish survive, and many are extremely unhealthy to humans. Many fish farms are located in countries where fish farming drugs are unregulated - as well as methods of getting fish feed and land for the farm. Many mangrove swamps are destroyed in the tropics for aquaculture. Reefs are robbed of life to create fish food. Just search around. This stuff is well documented, and happens on all the time. I buy locally farmed fishes in good conditions and certified farmed fishes as often as I can, as well as sustainably caught wild fishes.
Anyways, I have caught and eaten many fishes in my life - bass, wild tilapia, bluegill, stocked trout, striped bass, etc. I was curious to see how the creek fish tasted in a creek near my house. It looked safe enough anyways.
I had caught 7 creek chubs/fallfish on garden worms, a hook, and a split shot, and went home. The fish were small, and fillet them would be a waste. I decided to gut them, scale them, and cut them up. I then put them in a simmering soup. The soup was pretty good, and the fish was also pretty tasty. I plan on going back to the creek soon for some more fish.
Red Worms vs Nightcrawlers
Whenever I go out in the rain, I see many garden worms laying out on the sidewalk. They come in different shapes in sizes, from different colors and species. There are those long brown ones, those "jumper" worms. You touch them, and they start jumping and wiggling around. There are those sluggish purple red worms, that are sort of fat. There are other species as well. Go take a walk outside after a rain. You will see the variety.
There's no mistake that freshwater fish love worms. I have caught everything from bass to trout on worms. The kids on the Buddy Program (The YFS has a "Buddy Program," where countless kids are taught fishing, and many have gone on to become avid anglers and ambassadors of the sport. You can view the page "Our Work" for more information) love them, as do the YFS officers leading the program. Creek panfish and fallfish are caught in large numbers, much to the glee of those participating in the program. There also are the memories of your first fish, when you were just a kid dunking worms in a pond. I had caught a 2lb bluegill on a worm when I was 7.
As common as worms are on the ground, people still buy nightcrawlers in stores, for around $4 for a pack of 18. I feel like for ordinary applications, that is a mistake. Worms are easily found under logs and rocks, in the rain, or by digging. I have found the "jumper" worms to have a lot of action on the hook, triggering bites from nice sized fishes of all species. If you need a bigger worm for a larger application, however, you may need nightcrawlers, but for ordinary applications, garden worms will do fine.
Hi. I am Ian, an extremely avid bass fisherman living in Howard County, MD. I like to bank fish and fish at local ponds and small creeks. I will explore budget friendly options for people to use in this blog. I hope I can teach you something.