By Bob Jensen

We’re in the middle of the summer fishing season. The weather is hot, and some anglers believe that hot weather can make fishing difficult. However, pretty much all species of fish that most anglers chase in fresh water in the summer still need to eat. If we give them what they want, they’ll eat, and much of the time, live bait will be what gets them to eat. Here are some ideas for using live bait to catch more fish in the hottest part of the summer.

Wherever you fish during the summer, deeper water will often be most productive for a wide variety of fish. Deep weedlines, sunken islands, reefs and all the other traditional deeper water structures will hold fish. If you’re after walleyes, you’re going to get pecks from bluegills, perch, bullheads, drum, and probably other fish. It’s important to have plenty of fresh, healthy bait available.

Nightcrawlers and leeches are popular across the Midwest this time of year, and both will produce a wide variety of fish. Minnows aren’t as popular in the summer, but that might be because a number of years ago they were hard to keep alive in the summer. However, fish still like to eat minnows in the summer, and you’ll be increasing your odds for success if you try minnows. The key to keeping them healthy is to keep them in water that is aerated. Frabill has several bait containers that do an outstanding job of keeping minnows lively. The 1404 Min-O-Life is favored by many anglers.

Roach Rigs enable an angler to present live bait in the most natural manner, and sometimes that’s important. A Roach Rig is simply a hook on a snell with a walking slip-sinker. You can employ a shorter or longer snell, you can use colored hooks, and you can put a bead on the line next to the hook. These little variations will sometimes help you catch more fish.

Jigs can also be tipped with live bait. A jig/minnow combination worked along a deep weedline will catch anything that swims along that weedline.

If walleyes are the quarry, a spinner-rig like a Crawler Hauler will enable you to cover water quickly, and covering water quickly will allow you to show your bait to more fish.

Some anglers don’t like to use crawlers because of the mess the crawler dirt creates. Frabill’s new Crawler Can eliminates the need for dirt and keeps crawlers cool, healthy, and appealing to the fish.

If you’re fishing from a boat, keep an eye on your depthfinder. It will reveal groups of fish in deep water. Some anglers like to sit right on those fish, others like to slowly troll or drift through them. You’ll need to experiment a bit to see what works best for you.

When you feel a strike, wait about five seconds and set the hook. If you miss the fish, let it go a bit longer the next time. Every now and then the fish will take the hook a little deep in their mouth. If you want to release the fish, don’t try to dig the hook out. Simply cut the line: The hook will eventually come free and the fish will be fine.

If you want to have success in the heat of the summer, live bait is maybe the best way to make that happen.

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